C. B. Watson, April 5, 1916 Medford Mail Tribune
FROM ROSEBURG, OREGON TO YREKA,
CALIFORNIA, THE UMPQUA AND
ROGUE RIVER VALLEYS.
As the completion of the Oregon and California railroad, from Roseburg in Oregon to Redding in California, now a foregone conclusion, a brief sketch of the country through which it is to pass will doubtless be read with satisfaction.
Those of us who have suffered the agonies of a dozen or more trips by the overland stage line have perhaps a more vivid conception of what is in store for "ye traveler" than he who has never braced against the bruises and tribulations of a night stage ride, over the Grave Creek Hills, across the Siskiyou Mountains or down the Sacramento.
He who has gazed with interest, under such circumstances, upon the grandeur, beauty and diversity of the scenery along this route, may well anticipate the satisfaction he will feel when, reclining on the velvet cushions of a "Pullman palace coach," he is rushing over this selfsame country at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour, and inhaling poetic inspiration from the most genial breezes that fan the face of Nature.
Having traversed the greater part of the Pacific Slope from Los Angeles to the Columbia River, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, I can safely assert that nowhere can be found so equable and pleasant a climate, such diversity of scenery and production, more richness of soil or beauty of landscape, than are to be seen on this route.
Roseburg, the county seat of Douglas County, is an enterprising town of nearly one thousand inhabitants. Until a few weeks ago it was the terminus of the O.&C.R.R. It is situated in the heart of the Umpqua Valley on the east bank of the Umpqua River, two hundred miles south from the city of Portland.
It possesses many good buildings and has an extensive trade with the surrounding country. It is also the site of the U.S. Land Office for the Roseburg district, and aspired a few years ago to be made the head of navigation on the Umpqua River. To this end a congressional appropriation of twenty thousand dollars was secured and by dint of perseverance and outlay of money, muscle and steam, a steamboat was landed at its wharf. The event was hailed with joy by the people of the Umpqua Valley. The experiment, however, was never repeated and Roseburg lapsed into its former state of isolation until the advent of the O.&C.R.R. aroused it from its lethargy, revived its spirits and infused new vigor into its varied resources. The temporary terminus of the railroad being fixed at Roseburg created a boom not only among the merchants there, but also among the farmers and wool growers of the valley, and gave to the town an extensive forwarding and commission business for points to the south.
The Umpqua Valley in unlike any other that I have ever seen, and is in fact no valley at all, but an extensive plain bounded on all sides by lofty, timbered mountains and made up of a succession of vales and low half-wooded hills. Its climate is less humid than that of the Willamette Valley and like the Rogue River it is never subjected to the droughts so frequent in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys of California. The ground is seldom frozen so as to interfere with the work of the farmer, and though sometimes whitened with snow it is rarely covered more than a few hours at a time. Frosts scarcely ever injure the crops, and a great variety of fruits and vegetables grow to perfection.
Apples, pears, prunes, plums, apricots, peaches, berries and grapes are produced in abundance and of the finest quality. This valley ships yearly great quantities of wheat, rye, oats and barley. The soil is remarkably productive, and with increased facilities for shipping and travel it is destined to take rank among the most delightful spots on the Pacific Coast. It is remarkably well watered and the timber is so well distributed that little seems needed to complete its adaptability for the farmer, while the hill ranges furnish an extensive pasturage for sheep, horses and cattle.
It is neither a timbered nor a prairie country, but a harmonious blending of the two, that adds as much to the beauty of the landscape as to the convenience of the husbandman. The timber consists of oak, ash, alder, maple, mountain mahogany, pine, fir and cedar, and supplies every demand for fuel, building or cabinet work. The North and South Umpqua are large streams, rising in the Cascade Mountains and flowing in a westerly converging course, until, reaching the center of the valley, they join and thence flow west to the ocean--a broad, beautiful river, but unnavigable by reason of rapids between Roseburg and Scottsburg, the latter being at present the head of navigation, about thirty miles from the ocean. Innumerable other smaller streams flow through the valley, wending their tortuous course among the thousand hills, through the grassy glades and groves of oak, cooling the air and giving vigor to vegetable and animal life. The denizens of the Umpqua have strong hopes of a railroad that will at no distant day connect them with the coast at Coos Bay, sixty-five miles distant. The surrounding mountains are well stocked with a variety of game, among which may be found bear of the grizzly, black, brown and cinnamon species, deer, panthers, wildcats, and occasionally a band of elk.
The streams furnish mountain trout, and salmon are plentiful in the rivers at the seasons for their runs. The railroad survey follows the same general course as the Oregon and California stage line, varied somewhat, of course, as the face of the country demands it. Several thousand men are now at work, and the din consequent to railway construction in this age of steam,, electricity and giant powder wakes the echoes among solitudes hitherto silent since the beginning of the world. All rejoice at this progress of civilization, except perhaps the invincible stage driver, who sighs as he sees his occupation almost gone, and looks with a jealous eye upon the driver of the iron horse, who impels his "fiery untamed steed" with a rush, a roar and a deafening scream over the route where for so many years he has held his half-despotic sway and narrated his adventures with fiendish satisfaction to trembling, frightened novices in stage riding.
Leaving Roseburg we will now follow the old stage road southward. At the edge of the town we commence the ascent of a ridge which crowds its rocky point into the river, forcing the sparkling stream further to the west. Reaching the summit of this ridge, we pause to view the landscape o'er. Roseburg nestles in its little cove at the foot of wooded hills, looking fresh, bright and cozy beside its winding river. Pleasant cottages, prosperous-looking business houses, churches, schools, court house, and all that goes to make up a thrifty western county seat, with a laudable ambition to excel, is spread out to our view, and with its shade trees of oak, alder and maple presents a pretty picture for our contemplation. Bordering either bank of the river, where the hills do not crowd too closely are seen pleasant farmhouses and gardens, with oak- and fir-covered knobs and knolls for a background. The bushes at the roadside tell of one of the chief occupations of the people, bearing as they do stolen fleeces of wool from the sheep that graze among them. Above this point and further south, the valley bordering the river spreads its arms further to the east and west, and furnishes broad farms of level ground and excellent soil. Our road follows the river, and as we traverse its crooked course new attractions are constantly presented. Now we are passing around a rocky point, the road a mere artificial shelf cut in the solid wall, with a mountain above and the roaring river below. Anon we have passed the point of danger, and the sharp crack of the driver's whip rings out on the morning air. We go flying over a fine level road, with fences, farms and orchards on either hand. Thus in and out, now skimming along the water's edge, lulled by its ripple, again at a giddy height on the hillside, with a beautiful prospect below, or stifled in the dust of some neighborhood lane, our journey is sufficiently varied to keep both ennui and Morpheus at a distance. Oak Grove, until recently the first stage station, is 16 miles from Roseburg. Four miles further on, we reach Myrtle Creek, a pleasant little burg, with a prosperous farming community around it. About eight miles south is Riddleburg, at the present time the terminus of the railroad. Nine miles from Myrtle Creek, by stage, we reach Canyonville, at the extreme south end of the Umpqua Valley. This village constitutes the base of supplies for a fine farming country, stretching away for miles up and down the Umpqua River, which passes about two miles to the north and flows west by north. The railroad will cross the mountains through Cow Creek Canyon, about six miles west of Canyonville.
From Canyonville to the southward our route lies over a heavily timbered and mountainous country, until we reach Rogue River Valley. We pass occasional settlements nestling at the foot of high mountains and half hid away beneath the shade of the ever-present forests of fir, cedar and pine. Many of these little vales and valleys possess all the attractions for which Switzerland is famous, except that which time and an industrious people alone can make. The people who dwell in these isolated nooks are necessarily frugal and industrious, and are fast making some of the most attractive homes to be found in the state, and only await the advent of the railroad to complete their comfort and conveniences. The soil in these little valleys is an accumulation of centuries, from the surrounding mountains, and is as productive as any that can be found anywhere. The climate is healthful and invigorating, and all that is needed for domestic use, except such articles as the latitude will not produce, is raised. Cow Creek, Wolf Creek, Grave Creek, Jumpoff Joe and Grants Pass are successively the settlements passed after leaving Canyonville and before we reach Rogue River Valley, a distance of about seventy miles. These settlements are all small and will come under the general description given above. This stretch of country has a great many gold mines which are being worked with profit, principally placer. Without stopping for further observation, I must hasten on to Rock Point, a little hamlet on the north bank of Rogue River just in the northwest corner of the valley of that name. It contains a store, saloon, hotel, school house, blacksmith shop, and is a station on the overland stage line. The river here is a roaring, rushing torrent, deep, clear as crystal and filled with a plentiful supply of trout, and in the springtime with salmon. Its turbulent channel is here spanned by a bridge, though the one crossed by the stage is about two miles farther up the stream, and is a very substantial structure, having crossed which, we are fairly into
ROGUE RIVER VALLEY,which I conceive to be the most pleasant and desirable one on the Pacific Coast. It has an altitude of from one to two thousand feet above tidewater. It seems to be peculiarly adapted to the highest perfection of the apple, the pear, the peach, the plum, apricot, quince, grape, the blackberry, strawberry and raspberry. Almonds are produced in abundance and the fig tree grows well, but does not produce abundantly. The climate is remarkably healthful, and the high mountains surrounding it give off grateful breezes which temper the summer's heat. Rogue River Valley is bounded on the north by the Rogue River Mountains, east by the Cascades, south by the Siskiyous and west by the Coast Range. Its greatest length is from southeast to northwest, and the distance about forty miles. It is irregular in shape but has an average width of about eight miles, though in places it is much wider. The river which gives name to the valley rises among the snow peaks of the Cascade Mountains, and flowing west through the north side of the valley finds its way, after a tortuous course through deep dark canyons and overhanging forests, to the ocean. I venture the assertion that no valley on earth, in its natural state, presents so many delightfully pleasant features of landscape as does this one, or whose surrounding mountains afford more of the grand, rugged, picturesque and sublime, as do the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains that bound the valley on the east and south. Jacksonville, the county seat of Jackson County, occupies a cove at the junction of the Siskiyou and Cascade Range of mountains, eleven miles south from Rock Point. Without describing the delightful ride between these points, through the groves of fir, pine, oak and maple, I will invite the reader through the streets of Jacksonville, and to the summit of the hill at the foot of which it stands. We now find ourselves between five hundred and a thousand feet above the town, and with a magnificent prospect spread out below us. Immediately at our feet, nestling in its little mountain cove, shaded with oak and maple, whose leaves are tinted with the bright colors of autumn, stands the town through which we have just passed. Its neat and tasteful residences, its school houses and church spires, and its solid buildings of brick bespeak wealth and prosperity, and a population of nearly 1,000 people. Its hillsides and ravines furnish an index to its history as a mining town. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been taken from the earth, and yet its gravel beds are not allowed to rest undisturbed, though the attention of the people has long since been directed to other pursuits, and now agriculture forms the chief occupation of the valley, though mining is still carried on to a considerable extent, and but a few miles away is worked the heaviest mining machinery of the state. A great variety of precious metals have been found, and the prospector remaineth not idle during the winter months. Looking now to the north and northeast, the valley spreads out in all its beauty. Bright fields of stubble and groves of oak and fir blend in fine relief. Farm houses and barns, orchards and vineyards, dot the level plain as far as the eye can distinguish these smaller objects. The course of numberless streams are easily traced by their sinuous lines of maple, alder and ash, while in the distance rise the noble Cascades, already whitened by the approaching winter, and Mount McLoughlin, capped with eternal snow, its symmetrical form towering 10,000 feet above the sea, and standing as a monarch of the giants that modestly crowd about his foot. To the northeast are other shining peaks piercing the sky and dimly seen because near 100 miles away. These are the rough jutting points that stand as sentinels guarding that mystic spot, Crater Lake. The Table Rocks stand as natural wonders in this panorama to the north, with a history clustering about them which I have no time here to chronicle. To see all that may be found of interest, one should spend a summer here and explore the hundreds of nooks, crannies and coves that reach out into the surrounding mountains, and the little valleys that are hid away from the casual observer. Every home has its orchard and vineyard, its grain field, its garden and its "woods pasture." I known of no spot where the people live so independently and enjoy such advantages of climate and soil. Seventeen miles southeast from Jacksonville is the town of Ashland, by far the handsomest village in the state. It has a thousand inhabitants, is growing rapidly, and presents advantages which are sure to build up here one of the chief towns south of the Willamette Valley. Ashland has two drug stores, two hardware establishments, four general merchandise establishments, two or three minor stores, two hotels, [a] large and popular flouring mill, a large woolen factory, two large cabinet factories, marble works, one newspaper, two fine church buildings, an excellent college, and a fine public school, but no saloon. It is situated directly on the line of the O.&C.R.R. on a fine mountain stream that furnishes [an] abundance of pure, cold snow water for all purposes, manufacturing and otherwise. The town is more than usually attractive. The lots are large, and nearly every lot has its orchard, its garden, and ornamental shrubs and flowers. The soil is of granite and consequently neither mud nor dust is produced to a troublesome extent. The valley at this point is not more than a mile wide, but the mountains to the north have but little timber, and, possessing an excellent soil, are farmed halfway to their summits. To the south the Siskiyou Mountains rise abruptly and are clothed with magnificent forests. Besides the fruit of this valley, there is no part of the coast that can outdo it in the quality or quantity of its vegetables, its wheat, rye, oats and barley. The mountains furnish an abundance of sugar and yellow pine, from which the finest lumber in the world is made. There also abounds in the streams the festive trout, the joy of the angler, and among the woods and canyons bear, deer, elk, panther, cougar, wildcats, etc. so that the searcher for game and pleasure need not go away dissatisfied. Ten miles farther up the valley is a cluster of soda springs, already a place of great resort, and which promises a wide fame when the R.R. comes along to enable the outside world to reach them. Ashland is the last town in Oregon as you go southward, the first reached from California. Following the proposed line of the railroad, from Ashland to the state line it is about 25 miles, though on a direct course it is only fourteen. Leaving Ashland our course runs to the southeast for eight miles where we commence the ascent of the Siskiyou Mountains; though steep, the distance is not great, and when the summit is reached a magnificent landscape greets the eye. The Klamath and Shasta valleys are spread out before us, and Mount Shasta, 14,440 feet high, seems almost within a stone's throw, though sixty miles distant. Its eternal snow, its glaciers and pinnacles of ice shine like polished steel in the bright sunshine, and all other objects seem dwindled to insignificance. From the summit of the Siskiyou to the California line is about two miles, and we soon find ourselves whirling along toward Yreka, the first town of significance after leaving Oregon. C. B. WATSON.
West Shore, Portland, October 1882, pages 184-185
The Indian Legends of the Springs
By C. B. Watson, Ashland
Long before white men came to this country, so long ago, in fact, that Indian tradition does not fix the date, that wonderful collection of mineral springs, that promises to make Ashland famous, was known and valued by the aborigines for their medicinal properties.Jacksonville--50 Years Ago
I first visited these springs forty-four years ago, and more than forty years ago published a prophecy that sometime a great health and watering resort would be built up here.
I had then only recently arrived from my home in the prairies of Illinois, and everything I saw was new to me and wonderfully interesting. The mountains, forests, game and Indians were a source of delightful study for me. I went among the Indians east and west of the Cascade Mountains and learned many things not published in newspapers nor books. When I came Jackson County embraced all that area known now as Jackson, Klamath and Lake counties, and did not contain as many white people by one-third as the city of Ashland now has.
The country now comprising Klamath and Lake counties was known as the "Lake country" and by the Indians as the "Land of Many Lakes." It was inhabited mainly by the Klamath and Modoc Indians, two powerful and warlike tribes, often engaged in war with each other, but sometimes by treaty combining to fight with the tribes west of the Cascades, also a warlike people, later known as the Rogue River Indians. These last were, however, so depleted by the wars with the whites in 1855 and '56 that they ceased to be a menace to the Lake tribes.
When I first came, there were stories told of the aboriginals' use of the mineral springs, especially those known as the Tolman Springs, now owned by Mr. Lawrence and known as "Buckhorn Lodge," the escaping gases of which were prized by the redskins as "hyas skookum medicine." I visited them and verified some of the stories told. There were the places hollowed out on the banks of the stream where the gases escaped through fractures in the underlying rocks excavated by the Indians and in which they treated their patients. Dead birds, squirrels, snakes, rats and other small animals and reptiles lying in these pits told of the deadly quality of this carbonic acid gas [i.e., carbon dioxide] when not used with caution. In fact, the same thing may still be seen about these gas vents. From these facts the early settlers called them poison springs. The Indians, however, had learned how to use them and to value them accordingly.
Their method was to find a spot where this gas escaped, hollow out a sufficient space, spread fir boughs in it for comfort and place the patient on the boughs, where he remained under watchful care until unconscious. He was then taken into a "wikiup" or tent made of skins and boughs and there put through a course of manipulation and teas until he recovered consciousness. Then would follow a day or two of sweating and incantations by a medicine man. This treatment was repeated until the patient was declared to be cured, or incurable. All this time they drank the water from the springs and used it for vapor baths in their sweat house.
The Modocs and Klamaths were very skillful in the manufacture of baskets. Many of them were made for cooking in and holding water. These watertight baskets were filled and hot stones put into them, filling the sweat house with steam almost to the point of suffocation. The treatment was heroic, but the Indians insisted that it seldom failed to cure the most obstinate case of rheumatism, asthma, kidney disease and stomach trouble. It was not unusual for patients to be strapped onto ponies and brought from distant parts of the "Land of Many Lakes" to be treated.
Forty years ago the old warriors, those that possessed the most wisdom, could seldom be induced to talk on such matters, but I became acquainted with Frank Riddle, who came among these Indians nearly seventy years go, took a wife among them and remained until he died a few years ago. Riddle was a man of much intelligence and grew to be a man of great influence among them. During the Modoc War of 1872 and 1873 he and his wife Toby did great service for the government troops, acting as interpreters and messengers of mediation. Riddle wanted me to write his history, and I agreed to do it if he would prepare the data for me. This he promised to do but never did. Our acquaintance ran through twenty years, and he often related his experiences and adventures to me. It goes without saying that his tales were thrilling. I asked him how long the Modocs and Klamaths had used the mineral springs of the Upper Rogue River Valley [i.e., the Upper Bear Creek Valley]. He said he did not know and that the oldest men of the tribes when he first came among them did not know. They were in use then and appeared to have been for ages. The people had a superstition about them and attributed them and their virtues to the "Great Spirit." The escaping gas was the breath of the "Great Spirit," and was a guarantee of sure cure if the patient had led a worthy life, but sure death if he had not. The place where the "Great Spirit" chose to administer the benefits of his healing breath was considered sacred and for ages was supervised by a great medicine man. Even when the tribes of the "Land of Many Lakes" were at war with the tribes in whose territory these springs were situated, if pilgrims from east of the mountains succeeded in reaching the springs for medical treatment, they were not molested while there, but if they could intercept them before they had passed the great forest they were driven back or killed. In this connection he told me a beautiful romance of two lovers of the dim past. They sought the springs in hope that the maiden might be cured of a malady that threatened her life. This story would be too long for this article, and I may give it at another time.
I asked my friend why the people of the Land of Many Lakes always stopped at this one cluster of springs, why they did not go to the others where there were so many farther down in the valley; where the grass was better and no rugged canyon to hedge them in. He said that in the early time, of which, in their superstition, they spoked with bated breath, this one cluster of springs had by treaty been granted for their use and they were prohibited from visiting any other.
The Wagner Soda Spring was taken up more than fifty years ago by an old hunter who took a fancy to the water as an antidote for some ailment he had. Another man by the name of Samuel Whitmore, who doubtless he remembered as one of the early school teachers of Ashland, visited this spring, and being himself afflicted got permission from the old hunter to stop with him and try the water. After a time the hunter got restless and sold his interests to Whitmore, who afterwards sold to a Dr. Caldwell. The doctor occupied the place when I first saw it in 1871. He had a comfortable house and other improvements and furnished accommodations to travelers crossing the mountains and entertainment for those who visited the springs for health and pleasure. Even at that time this spring was quite a resort, considering the dearth of population then in the valley. Even then it was not infrequent to have visitors from Portland, Salem and other places outside of the valley. The old doctor conducted a sanitarium on a modest scale, and the therapeutical value of these waters was then recognized and discussed. Splendid meals were set, and from that time to the present the Wagner Soda Spring has grown in popularity.
Ashland Tidings, December 31, 1914, page 10
To the Editor:
Fifty years ago the Franco-Prussian War was exciting the world. Jackson County, as a municipal corporation, only 17 years old; a shy maiden, Jackson County at that time embraced what now comprises Jackson, Klamath and Lake, and did not have in all this area a white population equal to either Medford or Ashland [today]. Fifty years ago the Modoc Indians, headed by Captain Jack, while not threatening toward the settlers, were violently opposed to going onto, or staying on, the reservation, and two years thereafter were in open rebellion, murdering the white settlers of that part of Jackson County as they made their way to the Lava Beds at the south end of Tule Lake, where they had mobilized supplies for their anticipated campaign. The history of the Modoc War has been written and extensively read. In October, 1873, Captain Jack and three of his pals were hanged at Fort Klamath, which was then a part of Jackson County.
Fifty years ago Jacksonville was the metropolis of all southern Oregon, south of Salem and stood, perhaps, in population not less than third or fourth in the state. Fifty years ago jackrabbits and coyotes held high carnival and sole possession where Medford now stands. At that time there were not more than two houses (farm houses) within what is now the corporate limits of the present metropolis of southern Oregon. Ashland had perhaps a population of 250, and Talent was not in existence, though Wagner Creek Valley was a flourishing settlement and Phoenix was second in size among the villages of Jackson County. Central Point had a blacksmith shop and "Magruder's store," with two or three residences, and miles of uninhabited "desert" separated it from Eagle Point, where Daily and Emery were laying the foundation of a flour mill.
Fifty years ago the county courthouse was a wooden structure standing where the present courthouse stands, and the jail was little more than a dugout banked with dirt. The residents of Jackson County from Goose Lake to Josephine performed the duties of citizenship and responded to summons or subpoena with less complaint than they do today. A visit to the county seat in many instances involved days and nights of travel and camping out to reach Jacksonville when summoned as jurors or witnesses, or in performing other duties and tasks of citizenship. With all of the arduous duties that devolved upon them, as I remember it, a cheerful and uncomplaining attitude was maintained. All were neighbors, though separated by forests and mountains of great extent. There were no thoughts of railroads, and the passing of the overland stagecoach was the chief daily event. Roads were little more than trails. Kerosene lamps and tallow candles furnished the only light, and special messengers on horseback performed the duties now obtained from telegraph and telephone. "Dobie" roads were an abomination and doubled the tasks of the missionary and itinerant preacher in their efforts to diminish the use of spectacular language that was thought not to be orthodox.
For one who had recently arrived as a "tenderfoot" a new world was opened, and his young blood was made to tingle as he tried to come into correspondence with his environment. To such a one there are memories not to be obliterated, and sentimental preferences he would not suppress. To us, old Jacksonville stands as a classic and historic spot. The old hearts that are not wholly shriveled feel ravished when a new scar is made on historic old Jacksonville. Now the old town is told that the county seat with which it has been honored, and as honored thus since March 7, 1853, is to be taken away from it. It is like the heartrending produced by the separation of some loved member of the family, and we all feel deep sympathy.
However, the world is moving with accelerated speed, and we are bound to keep pace with it. Changes are constantly required in the interest of the great majority and we are bound, like good Americans, to bow when the demands are made. The picture that was a living and moving fact 50 years ago comes to me now as one of the results of a good memory. Old Jacksonville, as I first saw it, comes before me now, a moving picture of animation and energy. I am living again in retrospect, in the presence of that picture, such a one as will never again be seen except in memory. In those days many of the people were rough in appearance and action at times, but no class of men and women could outdo them in acts of generosity and mercy. Ready to resent an injury or insult, or to incur danger in defense of one menaced with a wrong. Only courage would venture the life of a pioneer, and only intelligence could survive and build as they have done. In the interest of all the people of the county, I believe the county seat should be changed, not to the glorification of Medford, nor the humiliation of Jacksonville, but in the interest of the great majority to be served. But I suggest that in the interest of a historical fact, if you take away the courthouse, some suitable monument of lasting character should be erected at the old site.
C. B. WATSON.Medford Mail Tribune, September 6, 1920, page 4
Gold Hill, September 3.
Looking at the old pictures of Ashland exhibited in Mr. Simpson's window has put me in a reminiscent mood. On the first day of April 1871 I landed at Ashland, from the old Overland Stage coach that was then the only public conveyance from Tehama, on the Sacramento River in California, to Roseburg, Oregon.
It was a beautiful day, flowers blooming on every side, the mountains redolent with color. The farm houses and farms, though new, looked prosperous, and the people seemed happy and contented. At the summit of the Siskiyous the driver stopped to give us a farewell view of California. I was a tenderfoot and the mountains had a fascination for me. Mt. Shasta seen from this point was the most wonderful scene I had ever witnessed. The Scotts Mountains which I had crossed the day before--my first real mountain experience--with their gleaming crests of snow, were to me a thrilling delight. Turning toward the north, Mt. McLoughlin, shining like gold in the morning sun, towered with the dignity of a giant as representative of the Cascade Range in Oregon. Below us spread out the Bear Creek arm of Rogue River Valley, toward which we plunged with a clatter of hooves and the characteristic vocabulary of an Overland Stage driver. Down, down we sped while my hat tried to resist the upward tendency of my hair, which was plentiful then, for that was 53 years ago. I thrilled with delight at the beauty of my surroundings and in joy pronounced--under my breath--the sacred word "Home," for I had a premonition that such it would be. We entered Ashland with much eclat, for the coming of the stage was the big daily event at this little hamlet of perhaps 200 people.
I am not writing an autobiography, and hence will only mention a few subsequent experiences that punctuated the next 35 or 40 years of my residence in the community which was then known as Ashland Mills. There was little trouble in becoming naturalized among this little gathering of pioneers, who always stood ready to welcome the newcomers.
Three years later I was a partner with Dr. J. H. Chitwood in establishing the first drugstore in Ashland. The only other one was at Jacksonville, the county seat of Jackson County, which then embraced what is now Jackson, Klamath and Lake counties.
During the summer of 1874 [the incident took place October 30, 1873] a small circus came along and set up its tent in the Plaza. A drunken Dutchman annoyed the showmen after they had gone to bed, and one of the men, a great big good-natured fellow, finally got up and chased the drunk man, who when a few rods away, near the old Ashland House, turned 'round and stabbed his pursuer and continued his flight. The wounded man returned to the tent and told his comrades that he had been stabbed. Dr. Chitwood's sign was on our storefront only a few steps away, and a messenger was soon banging away at the door and calling for the doctor. Of course he was not there, but I was sleeping in the back part of the store and answered the summons and told the messenger I'd get the doctor. While I was gone the whole crew belonging to the show turned out to get the stabber. They soon proceeded to secure a rope, which they tied about the culprit's neck. By that time the town was pretty well aroused and J. Q. Latta, a young man who was constable, came and he and I thought it our duty to prevent lynching. Latta was excited and uncertain what to do. I told him to call me "sheriff" as we rushed in, and I'd try to get the rope off the fellow's neck and we'd rush him out before they discovered the ruse. In we went among the mob in the big tent, he calling me sheriff and both of us assuming the swagger and manner of officers as we best knew how rushed in, elbowing and crowding until we reached the culprit, who was begging for his life, while one of the showmen was scurrying up the center pole with the loose end of the rope. We did not lose a minute. John grabbed the fellow by the arms, warning the men that I was the sheriff, while I pulled the rope off the culprit's neck and before the crowd fully realized the situation, we had him out and was scurrying down the street toward the creek. There was a shack built over the edge of the creek where the "Susy Allen" real estate office now is and brush behind it. We dodged into the brush, then into the creek and dragging our man with us we reached a point opposite the shanty and crawled under it, dragging the fellow, who was now pretty well sobered up. We whispered to him to crawl as far in as he could and stay there till we came for him. He was ready to follow direction. We then came out into the brush and by [a] roundabout way we got back to the tent where the mob was holding a council. We acted greatly excited and asked if any of them had seen our man. We told [them] he had got away from us and had started up the creek. It was very dark and the whole country in that direction was a jungle of brush. They started in that direction to get him and we hung around to see that they did not nose out his hiding place.
By and by they gave it up, their schedule requiring them to leave for Yreka at daylight and the managers requiring a pledge from me as sheriff that I'd use my best endeavors to capture him. After the circus had gone we went to his hiding place, got him and took him to Jacksonville, where he was placed in jail. Two days afterwards the wounded man died. The Dutchman was convicted of murder in the second degree and sent to the pen for a long term. This is the only time I ever assumed the authority of sheriff.
In my next I will tell of the visit of General Sheridan to Ashland, and then of the visit of President Hayes and General Sherman, who were entertained at the old Ashland House, where the Ford Garage now stands.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland Daily Tidings, April 17, 1924, page 2
The Jacksonville Sentinel of last Saturday says: "James C. Parker, the man who was stabbed at Ashland on Thursday evening of last week, by August Walters, died on Monday morning last. Walters is in jail here in default of $5,000 bail. He was somewhat roughly handled by the circus men, who threatened to hang him, but was restrained from so doing by John Wilson, proprietor of the circus. None of Walters' injuries were very serious, however."
C. B. Watson, May 18, 1916 Ashland Tidings
From the opening of the toll road over the Siskiyous and up to the building of the railroad, that portion of the stage line from Cole's station, near where the town of Hilt now stands, to the summit of the mountain was greatly afflicted with highwaymen. The stages were frequently held up and robbed, and the names of "Black Bart" and other notorious characters were frequently discussed. The Wells Fargo express company had an agent with every stage who carried a "sawed-off" shotgun as a guard for the mails and express. During the years 1870-71 they were particularly active and the company shifted the guards, bringing a new man from Arizona who had made a reputation for himself as brave and resourceful. This was in the fall of 1871. Several successful robberies had occurred by a very bold bandit, so this new man was put in charge of the "sawed-off" and sent to the Yreka-Ashland run.
On his first trip up the mountain, about halfway between Cole's station [omission], the bandit appeared in the road with his rifle to his shoulder and ordered the driver to stop and throw out the mail and express. The guard had instructed the driver in case of a "holdup" to stop and comply with the robber's request and when permitted to drive on. The road was crooked, with thick clumps of brush on both sides. When the mail and express had been thrown out the robber ordered them to drive on and to "keep going." This they did, and the guard, after passing out of sight of the bandit, jumped off without stopping the stage, which the robber could hear. The guard slipped around the intervening brush and came in sight of the robber as he was commencing to work on his loot and ordered him to "throw up" his hands. The robber, thus surprised, jumped for his gun, which he had leaned against the brush nearby, and the guard let fly a heavy load of buckshot. The driver stopped when he heard the shot. The guard called to him to drive back. They loaded the dead robber into the "boot" and drove into Ashland. I was at the post office when the stage came in. When they hauled the dead, crumpled-up body of the robber out there was excitement and rejoicing, for this bold, bad man had been the subject of discussion around many an evening fireside. He had made many successful hauls and had terrified travel across the mountain for many weeks. His body now occupies a grave in the potter's field corner of the Ashland cemetery.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland Daily Tidings, April 25, 1924, page 3 Jacksonville's Democratic Times is complete for the fall of 1871, and there's no such stage robbery in it. Watson was apparently remembering the October 24, 1876 killing of robber H. S. Hunt/Thomas Hunt by messenger John McNemar--though it took place between Redding and Weaverville.
Pioneer Resident Vividly Recalls Early Days in Ashland
C. B. Watson
In the early '70s Ashland was a small pioneer hamlet with very few sources for the entertainment of the young people, yet I doubt if there is so much of enjoyment and happiness now, with all of the varied sources at hand. There was no railroad and the daily stages drawn by six horses and commanded by that important factotum, the stage driver, who generally had some story of adventure to regale the crowd that invariably gathered at the post office for the day's event, filled the want that is now supplied by the daily paper. In the wintertime dancing, spelling schools and weekly singing school were attended and enjoyed, while everybody attended church at the school house. When I came the oldest inhabitant exploited his experience, proud of the fact that he had been here for twenty years. His experiences with the Indians; adventures with grizzly bears, mountain lions and such things because of the modesty of the narrator [omission].
During the warm Sunday afternoon, Granite Street, which extended a little above where the auto campground is now located, was the line of parade of the happy young people, who would stroll to the Hargadine sawmill located there and back along the "Hargadine grade" which is now, in different dressing, the drive from the auto campground back into town. It was a joyous walk. Where the Chautauqua auditorium now is, Hargadine had a small orchard with a high rail fence about it. We always climbed that fence and came to the bank of the mill race, which now tumbles its water over the bank into the park near the Plaza. The old mill then stood there, and a high flume conducted the water to and above the great "overshot wheel," where it lent its force to assure us of bread. We then walked out on the flume to the door that opened into the upper story of the mill; thence the stairway was utilized to reach the front door and the street.
Our real gala days were those when a crowd rustled up the best "rigs" in town and hied away to Soda Springs, where we were sure of a splendid dinner to be prepared by "The Old Lady Caldwell," who presided at the enjoyable hostelry. We always found something to interest us and occasionally were thrilled with a runaway on the way home. These were really enjoyable days, and the girls in no land were as beautiful and sweet as the Ashland girls, nor more happy.
In the spring of 1872, "Bill" Daily, a carpenter, who now lives on Butte Creek, proposed to me that we build a trap and catch fish at the Hargadine dam at the foot of Oak Street and where the road reached Bear Creek. There was a heavy run of steelheads and I had spent all the time I could sitting on the bank and watching the fish jump over the dam. It was a great sight to me. "Bill" knew how to build the trap, and I was eager to help and have an interest in the enterprise. We got a long fir pole and peeled the bark off and placed it just above and a little in front of where the water plunged over the dam. We then riveted some slats, such as were made for fence pickets; made a frame, V-shaped frame, about three feet deep and eight feet long and nailed our slats for the ends and sides. It was open at the top and about three feet wide. This trap we swung with straps to the pole so that it would swing just below and a little behind the fall. We tied a rope to each end so that we could draw it out and return it to its place again. We put it in place in the evening and returned to it the next morning, after a restless night, because of my anxiety for the venture. In attempting to scale the falls the fish would generally have to make several efforts before they succeeded. Each failure would of course result in their falling back, and our plan was that they would fall into the trap. When we got to the trap the next morning a wonderful sight met our gaze; we had about 50 beautiful fish in the trap, many of them two feet long, some more than that. It was a job to get them up to town, where we gave them away right and left. While the run lasted we practically furnished the town with fish. We charged nothing for them, but required that they must carry them home themselves. Every morning we were sure of plenty of company. In those days Ashland Creek furnished a good many steelheads, and far up the brushy canyon we were sure of an abundance of trout.
Deer were plentiful, and the hunting was good within the present city limits. Bear frequently wandered into town, and sometimes an old grizzly would carry off somebody's calf or shoat. There was no game or fish law to hinder nor restrict the sportsman, and many tales of adventure were reported. "Them days is gone forever."
Ashland Daily Tidings, April 30, 1924, page 3
December 31, 1914 Ashland Tidings
ReminiscentIn the fall of 1874, General Phil. Sheridan, then Lieutenant General of the Armies of the United States, passed through Ashland, where he and his party stopped for lunch and a two or three hours' rest. Information of his coming had been wired ahead to the old Ashland Hotel, which was presided over by "Uncle Jesse Houck," reputed to be one of the finest caterers in the Northwest, who always prided himself on his accomplishments on such occasions.
General Phil. Sheridan's Last Visit to Ashland
C. B. Watson
The stage company always furnished its best equipment and drivers, and at the appointed hour two freshly painted thoroughbrace coaches, with six horses each, and proudly experienced drivers hauled up before the hotel with professional flourish, with the General and his entourage, consisting of himself, Colonel Sheridan, his chief of staff, the Colonel's wife and lady accompanist, a captain and several sergeants.
Ashland's population was largely in attendance at a respectful distance. As the travelers alighted and shook the dust from their clothes, exchanging badinage and jokes, they appeared so much like other folks that the crowd drew nearer. Captain J. M. McCall, who was recognized as the leading citizen, slightly gray and dignified in appearance, acted as spokesman in welcoming the distinguished visitor and introducing such of the audience as ventured near enough. Dr. J. H. Chitwood was his pal, who also was distinguished in appearance, with snow-white beard and hair.
Since we first learned that the General would pass here on his way to San Francisco, the Dr., who was my father-in-law and partner in business, had told me how well he and the General were acquainted, while he commanded, as a lieutenant at a little post in the Willamette Valley about the beginning of the Civil War; but, said the Doctor, of course he will have forgotten all that long ago.
After Captain McCall had broken the ice the Dr. stepped up to be introduced, and as the Captain started to introduce him, the General raised his hand and said: "Hold on, Mr. McCall, I know this man," and, extending his hand, exclaimed: "Dr. Chitwood, what are you doing here? The last time I saw you you were practicing your profession and running a little drugstore at the little town in the Willamette near my station. Don't you remember? I used to spend a good deal of my spare time cracking jokes with you and indulging in neighborhood gossip. By the way, Doctor, you had two little girls that were good friends with me. I used to trot them on my knee and feed them. Where are they?" Of course the Doctor was greatly pleased to be so unmistakably and cordially remembered, and answering the General's question, pointed to me and said: "This young man married the oldest one only a month or so ago, and then introduced me. As the General took my hand he exclaimed, "Why, you rascal, you married my little friend without my consent, or any notice to me at all. Now you go up to your home and bring them down here. Tell them it is my General Order No. 1."
I promised I would try, but was not sure I should succeed. "Well, you'd better succeed." By that time "Little Phil" was a friend to everyone and all were his friends. I had some difficulty in persuading the girls to comply with the General's order, but after some protests, a little primping, powdering and fixin' they accompanied me to the hotel. As we entered, the General stepped briskly forward and extended both hands, took a hand of each, and looking straightly at them exclaimed: "Well, well, well, is it possible that these are the little girls I used to trot on my knee? It makes me feel as though I were growing old." After some pleasant conversation we went onto the veranda, and taking advantage of our separation from the crowd, he turned to the Doctor and asked where his store was, saying that he would like to get into it, just the three of us, and have a quiet chat over old times. The back part of the store was only a few steps away. I pointed to it. I would go around and open the front door and the Doctor [would] go to the back door, and I would let them in. He had said: "Can't we sneak in there without being seen? I want to get away from the crowd for a little bit. In a few minutes we three were in the little drugstore and the General, looking about, gave an earnest expression of pleasure, saying: "Now I commence to feel that I am getting closer to home." He told us how irksome and tiresome the life he was forced to lead was growing; how tired he was of balls, receptions, swallow-tailed coats, plug hats and kid gloves. "Oh!" said he, "If I could only have a little farm of 20 or 40 acres in this beautiful valley, or somewhere, that I could have my pigs, chickens and cows, with a good pair of horses, real steppers, that I could have my own 'vine and fig tree,' could put on a pair of overalls, a slouch hat and a pair of stogies, I am sure Phil would be happy." The way he said it I knew he meant it. He said, further, "In two or three days I will be at San Francisco, and I dread the fuss and feathers."
Looking thoughtful for a moment, he said: "Doctor, I want to recall as much as I can of the old days, and first, as a starter I want to sit on the counter. May I?" The Doctor laughed and said, "Climb right up, General, the whole thing is yours, do what you please with it." He backed his short, powerful body up to the counter. "Now," said he, "I want to crack my heels against the counter and spit away out there on the floor, just once, as I used to." We all laughed and the General said: "You see, Doctor, that Phil is just as silly and boyish as he used to be, and why not? That is the life. Here among friends who knew me then. Away from the gaudy make-believe and pretense, human nature recovers happiness. Oh yes, I want my little garden and pigs."
Recovering himself and looking backward again, he turned to the Doctor and said: "Dr., do you remember when I left for the war? I was on my horse ready to start for Portland, where I was to take [a] steamer for San Francisco. I waved goodbye to the boys who were there to see me off and said, "Goodbye, boys; the next time you see Phil he'll be wearing captain straps." You see, it was the height of my ambition to become a captain. I felt sure I'd make it if I got into a real war. I had been making a strenuous effort to get into the struggle and at last was on my way. What a strange combination life is."
At this point I ventured a suggestion that he must be satisfied, now that he had climbed to the very top and held the highest military position in the U.S. "Not yet," said he, "but if I could now retire to that little farm I think my ambition would be satisfied." I asked him to tell us something of that "Ride to Winchester" that had been immortalized by the poet. He laughed and said: "Poetic license. But," said he, "that was a good horse. The best friend I ever had."
A knock on the front door called our attention, and opening it, a sergeant stepped in and, saluting the General, said the Colonel thought they had better be going. "All right," said the General, "tell them to hitch up." The Sergeant went out; I put up a little package for the General, which he said he'd sent the Sergeant for. We had but few words when we shook hands with General Phil Sheridan and accepted his assurance that we had helped to make for him a pleasant spot in a tiresome trip.
In a few minutes the stages passed the door with the General seated beside the driver. He took off his cap and waved it to us with the benediction, "God bless you boys, goodbye." The driver gave a scientific crack of his whip and they climbed the hill in full tilt and accepted style.
This was General Sheridan's last goodbye to Oregon.
Ashland Daily Tidings, May 2, 1924, page 3
President Hayes and General Sherman Visit Ashland
Late in September 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes, and Mrs. Hayes, accompanied by General William Tecumseh Sherman, with their entourage, visited Oregon. Ashland was their first stop, where they took their first lunch at the old Ashland House, which stood where the Ford Garage now stands. The hotel was kept by Jasper Houck, one of the most popular caterers on the line. This was before we had any railroad, and travel was by stagecoach from Redding to Roseburg. The stage company put forth their best efforts in supplying the President and General of the U.S. Armies with the best accommodations that such method of travel could command. There were two large coaches with six horses each and the best drivers on the road. Notice had been received here several days in advance that they would halt here for their noon lunch and would, perhaps, stop several hours. It goes without saying that Ashland put forth its best efforts to please and impress the noted guests and received the compliments of the visitors.
An arch was constructed to span the street opposite the hotel with its words of welcome. Besides what the painter did, the ladies of the little town added the most generous trimming that flowers and fruit could be made to accomplish. The arch was a beautiful structure and was fully appreciated and praised by our guests, as will later appear in this story. We had here some real artists in woodwork, Moss, Marsh and Valpey, who conducted a planing mill and sash and door factory where the soda fountain in the park stands. To them the ladies applied for the construction of a tray of native woods, upon which they intended to present to Mrs. Hayes [the] choicest fruits that could be obtained, and when finished it couldn't have been beaten in the world. The tray was about two and a half feet in length with proper proportions in width. It consisted of every species of wood grown in this vicinity, worked into an artistic mosaic and highly polished, then artistically loaded with the choicest of fruit and flowers obtainable here and in quality and arrangement, brought applause from the whole presidential party. I had the proud distinction of presenting this token from the ladies of Ashland to the first lady of the land.
Mr. W. C. Myer, father of Mrs. G. F. Billings, was a lover of fine stock and dealt extensively in his choice occupation. Among his possessions were six fine Shetland ponies. Beautiful creatures, and all broke to work. He had a fine carryall built for them which had already been exhibited at the state fair. His harness was constructed to set off his unique team in the best style, and the outfit had received the highest prize at the previous state fair. This fine turnout he took pains to have in perfect condition and loading it with beautifully dressed little girls he drove out and met the presidential party two or three miles above town. The stagecoaches were stopped, Mrs. Hayes was enraptured with the beautiful display and the President ordered it to go ahead and lead the party into town. Even General Sherman, who was loath to express high praise for display, shouted his approbation. Every man, woman and child in Ashland and the surrounding country nearby were gathered about the Plaza and added to the welcome. Uncle Jesse Houck was in his glory and had a spread that added to the astonishment and pleasure of the party.
There was a flagpole and a bandstand where the fountain now stands in the Plaza, and after they had brushed off the dust and tasted Uncle Jesse's good things we succeeded in getting the President, Mrs. Hayes and the General on the stand. The President made a happy little speech. Mrs. Hayes followed, and after some urging and some growling by the General he spoke very briefly. Sherman never posed as an orator and was rather bluff in speech; it was not ill nature with him, however, and he made a pleasant talk, and among other things he said, "This is not the first time I have been here," then after telling about his early pioneer visit as an army lieutenant, added as a pleasant irony, "Then I saw nothing but Siwashes and broncos, and don't see that there has been much improvement." After spending several hours here they went on to Jacksonville, where they stayed overnight.
At the time of this visit I was making a campaign as one of the presidential electors on the Republican ticket and was introduced to the President as such. This I mention as pertinent to what will follow later in this story. Mrs. Hayes was so well pleased that when they started to get into the stage, she called for the tray. General Sherman objected that there was no room for it. Besides, said he, "We've eaten about all the fruit, and I don't see what you want with an empty tray." Mrs. Hayes raised her finger and said, "General Sherman, order that tray to be put in the coach, I want it." With a little expression of vexation, the general said, "You see what it is to have a woman boss on an expedition. I have generally had my orders obeyed, but am outranked here by a woman." Then turning to an orderly, he directed him to get the tray, "to keep peace in the family." They carried the tray away with them, and at Jacksonville, their stay being marred by certain vexations, Mrs. Hayes insisted that she would not leave the tray, calling it "an artistic gem that should be an heirloom in the family."
The presidential election which occurred the following November resulted in the election of James A. Garfield President, and I was chosen manager of the vote of Oregon, and as representative at the electoral count at Washington and at the inauguration of Garfield. A few days before the inauguration, Judge Upton, a comptroller of the Treasury, offered to go with me to call on President Hayes. When we reached the White House we found the President alone with his private secretary, and as Judge Upton started to introduce me, the President raised his hand and said, "Hold on, Judge, I've seen his man before. He presented a tray of fruit and flowers to Mrs. Hayes at the first stop we made last summer in Oregon. I shall never forget that day, nor the splendid reception you gave me. It was your wonderful state, and Mrs. Hayes carried that tray to our home in Canton, where it nestles among her treasures." Then Judge Upton finished the introduction, and the President wanted to know if I was acquainted with Crater Lake, saying he had been asked to withdraw it and recommend that it be made into a national park, and he wanted to talk with someone who could tell him something about it. There was no subject that I delighted to discuss more than Crater Lake, and he held us there for an hour and a half while I held forth on the subject of Crater Lake. He then said that Mrs. Hayes would have been delighted to see me again to send her words of thanks to the women of Ashland, but she was at their home in Ohio. We shook hands with the President, when he again referred to our beautiful valley and said that he hoped he and Mrs. Hayes would again be able to visit us.
C. B. WATSON,Ashland Daily Tidings, May 28, 1924, page 3
Ashland, Oregon, May 25, 1924.
ReminiscentAshland Daily Tidings, June 14, 1924, page 2 Watson was the orator in Ashland on July 4, 1874, but Prof. W. T. Leeke read the Declaration that day. The Oregon Sentinel lists Judge Tolman as the "marshal of the day."
Ashland's Celebration Fifty Years Ago
On July Fourth 1874--fifty years ago--Ashland had a celebration of more than ordinary proportions for a pioneer community. A fine flagpole and a new flag decorated the Plaza. A barbecue was staged just beyond where the dancing pavilion now is, and the other ceremonies were put over in the alder grove that occupied the site of the present bungalow, below where the lithia fountain now is. This was really the finest grove on the creek, but has since been cut out. Seats were made of rough lumber placed on logs for support. The Marsh and Valpey sash and door factory had just been completed, but the machinery had not yet been installed. It was situated between the present soda fountain and Granite Street. A part of the program was to be a "grand ball" in this new building. People came from all over the valley, and a very respectable gathering resulted.
A crowd of young men had gathered a dozen horns and formed an embryo band and engaged "Papa [John Adam] Schmidt" of Jacksonville to lead them. For a week or so before, the tooting of horns vied with the singing of the frogs that had taken possession of the puddle occupying the center of the Plaza. The young women gathered varicolored ribbons and paper decorations to embellish the grandstand and dance hall, and patriotic songs were practiced to enhance the entertainment. The writer was chosen to deliver the oration; a marshal of the day pranced about with his red sash and commanding appearance, and the noisy firecrackers kept the little boys busy.
A parade was formed with the band in the lead and "Papa Schmidt" at the head dressed in a brand-new uniform, and the order to march was given. The band struck up with the "Star Spangled Banner" and the Plaza was initiated into a new experience. Mike Nickleson and his brother, Ole--blacksmiths--had rigged up a couple of anvils to make a "big noise" with; women and girls shrieked when it went off and the firecracker boys shouted in excited joy. As the orator of the day--my first experience in that line--I nervously fell in at the place designated for me, beside a beautiful young woman who was to read the Declaration of Independence [see note at end of article]. I had bought a new hat for the occasion, but some joker had swiped it and I had to wear my old one. I had what I thought a fine white linen coat, which I had sent to my laundress a day or so before to put in order. It was returned to me on the morning of the Fourth, clean enough and starched stiff enough, but evidently a calf had gotten hold of it and chewed the bottom of the right-hand corner, and the madam who was to put it in shape returned it without trimming off the fringes made by the calf, but left them stiffly starched and pointing in a menacing way as though threatening to stab anyone who might approach. It may be easily understood that my temper was ruffled, but I concluded to wear it as it was. I had made careful notes of my speech, to which I expected to refer. I fancied I had a fine speech. I climbed onto the platform with as much dignity as the lacerated tail of my coat would permit. After the singing of songs, the tooting of horns and other demonstrations my audience thought it proper to indulge in, I was introduced and amid the usual clapping of hands got to my feet, laid my notes on the shelf before me and proceeded to pour a glass of water which I felt I needed. While doing this there came a little whirlwind that picked up my notes and playfully carried them up among the treetops. For a moment I was nonplussed, but gathering myself together, and pointing at them I seriously said, "There goes my speech. I knew its soaring qualities, but had expected it to wait for me." However, I launched forth and was congratulated to my satisfaction. I have made many Fourth of July orations since, and on each subsequent occasion memory has carried me back to 1874.
The barbecue followed and the dance carried us into the wee-small hours of the next morning. I am very sure that out of the occasion came as much joy as any of the present day. I can visualize it now in all its details, the barbecue with dignified Uncle Jesse Houck presiding, the singing of the water in the beautiful stream, the delightful shade, the beautiful flowers, the fruit and fragrance and the joy and beauty of the girls, with their long, adorable hair of which they were proud. Bobbing was not in fashion, and not a beauty was maimed. Some of these girls are yet here; their locks are gray now, but their eyes and memories are bright, and I venture they will recall that event which at the time was momentous. Then there was no railroad, no electric lights, telephones, radio, automobiles, typewriters nor paved highways, but we did not miss them. Our patriotism and love of country was just as strong and ardent as now, and the simple things we planned for our gala day were just as enjoyable as any of the refinements of the present age.
C. B. WATSON,
Ashland, Oregon, June 12, 1924.
REMINISCENCES OF A PIONEER
EARLY DAYS IN JACKSON COUNTY DESCRIBED BY JUDGE WATSON
The following we reprint from the Oregon Journal, the subject being Judge C. B. Watson, of Ashland, who is a brother-in-law of our druggist, C. C. Chitwood. Judge Watson was a caller in the Post office Saturday, and he is an enthusiastic booster for Oregon. The Oregon Journal says:Being a series of interesting articles dealing with early-day events and pioneer men and women who made history and builded for succeeding generations.
Judge C. B. Watson of Ashland is by birth a '49er. He was born at Time, in Pike County, in Illinois, November 25, 1849. He is one of nine children, and he spent his boyhood working on his father's farm in Illinois. In 1870, when he was 21, he borrowed $100 and started for the Pacific coast. He arrived in Sacramento with a capital of $1.50. He at once landed a job chopping wood on Cash Creek, near Woodland, Cal., and after seven months' work came north and, falling in love with the Rogue River Valley, settled there. He went to school at Ashland in the winter of 1871, doing chores for his board. The next spring he taught a school. After teaching one term, he, with some other young men, drove a band of horses to Boise City. Returning to Ashland, he attended Ashland academy that winter. He taught a term of school the following summer, after which he landed a job in a surveying crew. On September 1, 1864 [sic], he married Ella J. Chitwood, daughter of Dr. J. H. Chitwood. He worked in the drug store for two years, during which time he studied law. In 1875 he was a candidate for prosecuting attorney for the First Judicial District, and was defeated by a narrow margin. In 1877 he was editor of the Oregon Sentinel. In December of the same year he was admitted to the bar and the following March, with his brother, W. W. Watson, he went to Lake County and started a paper called the State Line Herald.
Excerpt, Jacksonville Post, June 27, 1924, page 1
Interesting Reminiscences by a Southern Oregon Pioneer
By C. B. WATSON
An Unusual Struggle for an Education.
During the Civil War I was with the family in my old Illinois home. Like thousands of other patriots my father felt that his duty was at the front. I was the oldest of the boys, and upon me devolved the duty of running the farm. In consequence I had little time for school, but being endowed with the instincts of a student I pursued my studies as best I could, to keep up with the more fortunate. At night I studied as long as my mother would permit it; often until after midnight, with a twisted rag in a saucer of grease for light, and with corn and corn cobs for fuel, so that when the war was over and the other boys had grown able to take my place I borrowed $100 to make the trip to California, which I reached in September 1870. Near Woodland I got a job of wood-cutting, which I continued until the spring of 1871, when I completed my journey to Oregon, which I have partially described in a former article of this series. I mention this to lead me to experiences that followed.
My desires for an education had never forsaken me, so in the fall of 1871, after a summer's employment on a garden ranch at Wagner Creek, I concluded to try "catching up" and came to Ashland for that purpose. A Mr. Flemming was teaching here, and after our garden work was done I concluded to try out the new teacher at Ashland and walked from Wagner Creek to Ashland each morning and back in the evening, a distance of five miles each way, making ten miles for the round trip. This I continued for two months until I satisfied myself that Mr. Flemming was a good teacher. I told him my history and asked if I could not take private lessons from him of evenings, as I wished to start in the minor classes, considering this course as a review and be advanced as rapidly as my qualification would justify. This he readily agreed to at a moderate charge. I was twenty-one, and it was somewhat embarrassing to take my place among the smaller pupils and be subjected to glances from those in the advanced classes in which I sometimes thought I could see expressions of superiority. I kept my purpose to "carry on" regardless of the handicap and before the six months term was finished I had received a satisfactory standing in the highest classes of the school and believe I had secured the good will and respect of all the school and the teacher too. After school was finished I applied to W. D. Stanley for a license to teach and secured it.
I applied for a school at the Durkee school house about three miles north of Ashland--a new school--and began my labors. I "boarded around among the scholars" and fancied I was giving satisfaction. After about six weeks a smallpox scare broke out. Only a few years before, [the] smallpox scourge had infested Rogue River Valley with dire results and a meeting was called to discuss the advisability of closing all schools until the scare was past. It was agreed that this should be done, and for the time being it appeared that I would be without any occupation. This I did not feel that I could afford, so I told the directors that I would see if I could get another job. They kindly expressed the wish that I would be able to finish my term but found no fault with my desire to be busy.
Mr. B. F. Myer, one of the well-to-do stock men of the county, who was also a resident of the school district, was gathering up a band of horses which he intended to send to Helena, Montana. To him I applied for a job and secured it. The thought of so long a trip through the wild Indian country that we'd have to traverse gave me a joyful thrill of coming adventure. In company with the late Eugene Walrad, I rode for weeks over Grizzly Ridge, the Antelope, Butte Creek and Dead Indian ranges, gathering up our band. To ride wild horses became a delight. To chase a band of tricky, slick beauties and land them safely in a corral where they were to be caught, haltered and those selected to be our riding animals "broke" to ride became a delightful passion.
Toward the latter part of June, 1872 we left Ashland via Green Springs Pass with 120 head of beautiful horses. Nearly all of them were coal black, fat and sleek from their bunchgrass range, which at that time was the finest range I had ever seen. I had read many stories of frontier adventure, and in my boyish enthusiasm had wondered if I should ever have the wild pleasure of such experiences. I can now call up the proud thrills that had possession of me on that June morning when taking farewell from the people of this little village, whom I discovered were my friends. The school fellows who seemed to consider me almost a nondescript only a year ago gathered about me and wished they could go too. With many a heartfelt goodbye that greeted us we made our start and that night camped at Green Springs. In my next I'll tell you something about our trip. We were warned that the Indians were not friendly, and the Modoc War was brewing.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, June 30, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 2, 1924, page 2
Our First Camp in the Wilderness, on our Way to Helena, Montana.
It would be difficult for me to describe my sensations when we had prepared our first supper and spread our beds with fir boughs to soften our repose. There was a large corral of logs nearby that had been occupied to corral sheep in during the past season, and this we used to confine our band after they had browsed their fill on the luxurious bunchgrass and wild clover that in these early days carpeted every glade and surrounded the marshy grounds, made so by the numerous springs. Nearby to the east were high cliffs, and looking toward the west as the sun sank behind the Siskiyous was a wonderful vision of beautiful valley and towering mountains. Nearby were great trees that charmed me with their dignity and the thought that they were growing in full vigor before Columbus discovered America.
I have not yet given you a detail of the personnel of our little party who were destined to the closest companionship during many months to come. First was H. F. Phillips, who had charge of the venture; then came Walter Myer, son of B. F. Myer, who owned the band of horses; then Eugene Walrad, Albert Cardwell, Oscar Phillips, son of H. F. Phillips, who had charge of the "bell mare." Walrad and the writer bunked together and generally rode together. We looked after the packs and the packing. Each one had his particular place in this undertaking. In our pack train were three mules and the bell mare. These were practically inseparable and were generally kept in the lead of the band. One mule we called "Pinto" because he was spotted: he was small, but according to the consensus of the party was very closely related to His Satanic Majesty, as will more fully appear during the course of this narrative.
That night at Green Springs was clear and frosty--my first camp under the pines. I lay awake for hours thinking, thinking about Mother and home and this venture which seemed to be bringing my boyish dreams--since I had been old enough to have dreams of adventure--true. I had read about Kit Carson and Fremont, and now was to see the land where some of their thrills were obtained. I was to experience in the wilds, among the Indians, some of the things I had read about. I thought about the pioneers of the plains and wondered if they, like myself, were not moved by some mysterious impulse which they had not fully divined. I had been a devotee to the writings of Emerson, and these lines came to me:
"When I am alone in my sylvan home,I finally slept and was aroused by whoops and imprecations. I was on my feet in a minute, only to learn that we were not attacked by Indians. It was only the pinto mule prospecting among our camp equipment. This mule had been raised by Cash Walker, who is still an Ashland resident, and who had trained him--like Bret Harte's heathen Chinee, in "ways that are dark and tricks that are vain." We were to learn more about Cash Walker as we got better acquainted with Pinto.
I read on the pride of Greece and Rome,
When I'm stretched beneath the pines,
When the evening star so holy shines,
I laugh at the lore and creeds of man,
The sophists' schools and learned clan,
For what are they all in their high conceit,
When man in the bush with God may meet."
In the early dawn we had our first breakfast, and I had my first experience in the art of packing, throwing the ropes and executing the diamond hitch, in which, by and by, I became an expert. Ere long we were in the big timber which has since that time set the lumbering world crazy. As we rode through that wonderful forest of sugar pines towering in majesty two hundred feet into the air, I tried to see the top of every tree and nursed a stiff neck for days afterwards in consequence. For a boy with imagination, reared in the boundless prairies of the Mississippi Valley, this ride through the interminable woods was a revelation, a dream, and it did not occur to me that in time I would become very familiar with this forest; that I would survey much of it as a deputy of the U.S. Surveyor, nor that I should sometime see a million-dollar road built through it with a grand celebration at its summit, a mile high. We were following the blazes of the Applegate party of 1846, slightly improved so that the wagons might be driven through. We were still trail blazers, still moved by that mysterious impulse that was rapidly filling up the great West. We were four days reaching Linkville, now Klamath Falls, and only a few weeks ago I made it by automobile in two hours and fifteen minutes, but such things as these had no part in my dreams.
At Linkville we found the river spanned by a pole bridge, over which we only dared drive a few horses at one time. "Uncle" George Nurse had built the first house there only five years before, and there were now four or five more, including a store, a shack called a hotel, a saloon and a blacksmith shop. Looking to the southeast, only swamp, sage plain and distant mountains were seen. B. F. Myer, the proprietor of our band, had come this far with us, but from this point he returned to Ashland and we headed for Lost River. There were a few Indians sauntering about looking rather glum, and we were advised to keep close watch on our horses at night from there on. The Modoc War was even then brewing and broke in full blast a few months later. Our first camp beyond Linkville was, after we had passed through Lost River Gap, on the bank of that historic stream. Here we formed our party into a night guard, Phillips and his son taking the first watch, Walrad and I the second, Myer and Cardwell the third.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, July 6, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 8, 1924, page 2
Lost River, Plenty of Fish, Alkali Valley.
As stated in my last article, we camped just above Lost River Gap, on the banks of this now-historic stream. For ages Lost River had been a favorite fishing stream where hundreds of Indians gathered at the proper season to gather in their annual supplies of fish. Though I was to gain an unrestricted acquaintance with this stream and the surrounding country in subsequent adventures, at this time it was perfectly new to me. It may not be out of place for me to give information which I afterwards gained about this interesting country and particularly this unique river.
Lost River rises in Clear Lake just across the border in California and flows north into Langell Valley, Oregon, where it sinks, hence its name. Its course thence is by subterraneous course for fifteen or twenty miles in a northeasterly direction, where it again comes to the surface in a large cluster of springs. There is quite a town called Bonanza, though at the date of which I write Bonanza had not yet come into existence. From this point the river bears to the west and within a few hundred yards below the springs it has a width of eighty feet and a depth of eight or ten feet. Its course thence for ten or twelve miles is west with a southerly trend until it has passed "the gap" where it turns southerly and finally southeasterly and empties into Tule Lake, on the south of which lie the Lava Beds destined to be made historic within a year from the date of our camp by the murder of Canby and Thomas in the Modoc War. Clear Lake, the source of the river, is but five miles distant from Tule Lake into which the river empties, yet the river is ninety miles long. Tule Lake has no visible outlet, and at the time of which I write covered about 100,000 acres. Some of the most valuable lands of Oregon occupy this Lost River country, but up to this time it was practically unoccupied. A few hardy stock men had made selections and were building up stock ranches that have since then become famous.
All of the streams of this "lake country" swarmed with fish and were destined in later times to attract fishermen from distant cities. Deer and antelope swarmed over the sage plains rich in bunchgrass, while in the mountains the more adventurous hunters made war upon grizzly, black and cinnamon bears, mountain lions, panthers and timber wolves. Coyotes made the night hideous and jackrabbits were innumerable. As I have said, this was the first night that we put out [omission]--for the nervous and dissatisfied Indians boded trouble. In 1864 a treaty had been made between the government and the Indians, and the Klamath Reservation had been established. The Klamaths and Modoc Indians were not altogether friendly, and it was sought to put them on this reservation together, and there was much opposition to this. The Modocs claimed the Tule Lake country and the lower reaches of Lost River. Lost River had always been a common fishing stream, and both these sections were outside of the reservation, though they were permitted to visit Lost River during the fishing season. The Indians resented the encroachments of the whites, a number of whom had settled about the borders of Tule Lake and along the banks of Lost River. This was about the middle of June that we were there, and in November following the Modoc War broke out at the Stone Bridge on Lost River.
Our night passed without incident, and the morning dawned beautifully. Night noises were hushed with the rising sun, and breakfast and packing were soon accomplished, our horses rounded up and the day's march begun. Our course was now northerly through a couple of miles of yellow pine timber without brush. The horses were learning to follow the bell mare, and there was little to distract attention to the new and changing environment. To the north of this cluster of timber was Swan Lake Valley, but not visible from our line of march. Lucien Applegate afterward located in this valley and acquired a large acreage of splendid meadowland and established one of the stock ranches in the Klamath country. He still lives there at an advanced age in peace and plenty.
Four or five miles from our camp we came into Alkali Valley and there found more stock men already established. Uncle Billy Roberts, Ivan Applegate and the Shook brothers had availed themselves of a beautiful tract of country, splendid springs and an abundance of the finest meadowlands, destined to make them rich. Our road now bore to the north until we reached the Sprague River country where we found Yainax, a sub-agency of the Klamath Reservation. Here we were in the midst of the Klamath Indians, who seemed peaceable enough, though sulky and uncommunicative. This valley was a very beautiful spot with luxuriant grass, springs and clear running streams everywhere. There was only a family or two of white people, who did not apprehend any trouble but suggested that we had better maintain a close watch over our band, as it appeared to attract the attention of the natives and might tempt them beyond their power of resistance. We made our camp at the lower end of the "lower gap" on Sprague River, a wonderful, beautiful spot, covered with wild rye and clover, of so strong a growth as to make it difficult to get about in it. The river was teeming with fish, and the quaking-aspen groves were seductive in their invitation to repose. From this camp our road was to the east for about twenty miles, where we camped at "Round Grove," with good grass and water. On this day's drive we saw but few Indians, and most of them at a distance. From "Round Grove" we plunged into the forest again which continued until we reached Drews Valley. We were now beyond the reservation. Drews Valley was so seductive a spot that I laid the foundation of a cabin and concluded that if we returned that way I would locate my frontier home. We were now nearing Goose Lake Valley, of which I had heard much, and on the following day entered it at the north end. As we crossed the divide a beautiful view was presented. Looking south over the lake the mountains looked very distant. Antelope and deer were plentiful, and the Warner Range rose high to the east. Around the north end of the lake were swamps, outside of which spread out in interminable abundance the sagebrush plains with which I was growing familiar. We crossed the valley and camped at the foot of the Warner Mountains. Here we concluded to stop over the next day, which was Sunday, and visit Uncle Abe Tenbrook, who had settled there a few miles south of our camp, emigrating from Rogue River Valley. There were quite a number of families who had settled along the east shore of the lake and were building homes that have since become wonderfully attractive.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, July 7, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 10, 1924, page 2
We Spend Sunday with the Tenbrook Family and Have a Splendid Dinner.
On this beautiful morning, July 1, 1872, we were camped at the foot of the Warner Range, in the upper end of Goose Lake Valley. From a little eminence nearby I looked south over the valley and lake. The view was a delightful fine one, and I began to realize the justness of the many praises I had heard of the "Goose Lake country." The valley is about sixty miles long and an average of 18 or 20 miles in width. The lake covered the larger part of it and was about four or five miles distant from our camp. A band of antelope grazed quietly half a mile away, and herds of cattle and horses were seen in the distance. The mountains to the north and west were heavily timbered, and the willows marked the streams that fed the beautiful lake, and the glint of early sunshine developed mirages here and there. A margin of splendid land lay between the lake, from half a mile to a mile and a half in width, and the Warner Range to the east. Here most of the newcomers had settled, and small clusters of houses could be seen. The nearest were about six miles away. The Tenbrook family had heard about our entry into the valley and sent an early invitation to us to take Sunday dinner with them. They had been among the early settlers in Rogue River Valley and had immigrated to Goose Lake two or three years later and had personal acquaintances with the Myer, Walrad and Cardwell families. It goes without saying that we did not halt on our manner of going, but went at once. We had been on our journey now for more than a week and were still in Jackson County. We were growing tired of camp grub and were told that Mrs. Tenbrook was a wonderful cook. This statement we fully verified. The most wonderful bread, fresh butter and milk, fried chicken and many delicacies were spread before us, and we did full justice to the fare. Mrs. Tenbrook was one of those wonderful housekeepers who was always apologizing for this, that and the other, notwithstanding that we could not see how any improvement could be made. Mr. Phillips (we called him H. F.) was quite a joker, and when Mrs. T. apologized for her wonderful biscuits, light as a feather, the acme of perfection, he said in a quiet, quaint sort of way, "You ought to see some of the bread I make. It's none of your light, spongy stuff, it's good solid bread." She for a moment registered resentment until others saw the joke and began to laugh, to which she joined in. We had a splendid visit and got first-hand information about the settlement of the valley and the optimism with which they discussed the expected future.
There were several families already settled in the valley, among whom were the Cogswells, Tenbrooks, Snellings, Tandy's [omission] Rogue River Valley, some from the Willamette and some from California. The better part of the valley is in Oregon, but the larger portion in California. Whenever a new family arrived, there was rejoicing. To the north was another string of valleys that were also being settled up. They were, in order, Crooked Creek, Chewaucan, Summer Lake and Silver Lake valleys. The chief lure was "stock business," but they were becoming invested with the knowledge that they had a splendid farming country and only needed good roads to market to assure the full development of a fine farm region.
I soon became delighted with what appeared to me the future of a most promising region. It did not occur to me that I should sometime be a resident of this valley and should publish the first newspaper in Southern Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains. At the time of which I now write there was a store, blacksmith shop and other accessories about thirty miles south of our camp. Between where we camped and the Tenbrook place, the only occupant was the Cogswell place at Cogswell Creek. Now the beautiful little city of Lakeview lies between, and every available place in the valley is taken and many beautiful homes established. A narrow-gauge railroad runs from Reno to Lakeview. Of this growth and the stirring history that has been made there in the past fifty years I will write more fully hereafter. For the present we must pursue our trip toward Montana. I may be permitted to say, however, that in the making of that history I had my own modest part. There is a history of Oregon that, in my opinion, has justly dealt with the building up of this Southern Oregon country, and if I conclude to write about it it will largely be from my own personal knowledge and observation.
We returned to our camp rested, cheerful and filled with the many good things that Mrs. Tenbrook had set before us. We had secured information as to the best route into Warner Valley, which lay just across the range. Bright and early the next morning we were on our way to Camp Warner just over the summit. Here was a small garrison of troops and we camped nearby and secured from the officers information to guide us for the next hundred miles or so. That day we crossed over snow at the summit. It was a hot day, and the reflection from the snow almost blinded us. Here we saw what we thought a phenomenon. Thousands of large crickets were emigrating across the range, and it was interesting to watch them as they came to the snow and tried to pursue their journey. A few rods of advance on the snow seemed to paralyze them. Their motions grew slower and slower until finally they stretched out, stiffened and succumbed. We saw some Indians moving about and on closer inspection discovered that they were gathering up the crickets and stringing them on threads. We asked what they were intending to do with the crickets. Their answer was "eat 'um; heap good, hi-u-muck-a-muck" ["good food"]. The squaws had great strings of these crickets strung on threads and hung about their necks. One of them offered me some. I declined with thanks, and she laughed at me as she filled her mouth with them and champed with gusto.
From our camp near the military post we looked easterly into Warner Valley, in which we were destined to have an experience that remains clear in my mind to this day. Jacob Ish and Dave Jones had some fine hay lands in the valley a few miles from the post and were under contract to furnish hay to the troops. Mr. Ish was a resident near Jacksonville in Rogue River Valley and was reckoned on of the wealthiest citizens in the county. He had in an earlier day settled upon his ranch [near Medford], which is now known as the "Gore Ranch." William Gore, present president of the Medford National Bank, married Mr. Ish's only child and came into a great inheritance. Mr. Jones also came out from Rogue River Valley in partnership with Ish to this enterprise. They had a good thing. Their hay cost them nothing but the labor of making and hauling it. The government paid them a big price and they were making money. They also had a band of cattle and horses that were rolling fat in these splendid meadows. After leaving the post we camped for a day near the Ish-Jones ranch. We traveled slowly to give our horses the benefit of good range and water. We were, at last, out of Jackson County and into Grant. Here we crossed the trail of Fremont and Kit Carson when on their disastrous trip in 1843 from the Columbia River to California. Inasmuch as our Oregon histories make no mention of the most interesting incidents of this exploring trip of the "Pathfinder," in this adventure I will give it in my next chapter, while our horses are reveling in the luxurious grass along the margin of Warner Lake. The "Old Camp Warner" was located in the 'Sixties on the east side of Warner Valley by General Crook, who built what is, or was, known as "The Stone Bridge" across a half a mile of swampy slough which connected the upper and low Warner lakes, by hauling great quantities of volcanic rocks that had broken from the high "rimrock" that bounds the east side of the valley, and dumped them into the water until the deposit reached the surface, and then crossed over to the west side. In further pursuing this narrative I will describe our experience at the "Stone Bridge." Here and elsewhere in Warner Valley we had our first genuine thrills.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, July 10, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 12, 1924, page 2
Fremont and Kit Carson Visit Southern Oregon in 1843;
We Cross Their Trail.
My readers will pardon me I'm sure if I depart from the "reminiscent" to the historical, for at least one chapter. All students of early Oregon history, who have read Washington Irving's Astoria, H. K. Hines' history of the early missions, the explorations of Sublette, Dr. Marcus Whitman, Dr. Fells and others will remember the "Great Immigration" of 1843. That year a caravan of almost one thousand people left Independence on the Missouri River for Oregon. Peter Burnett, who was later the first governor of California, was elected captain of this expedition, but served only for a short time, when William Martin was elected and retained his position while the caravan remained intact. Later it was broken up and different men had command of the divided portions. A large body of these emigrants were directed by Jesse Applegate. Dr. Marcus Whitman, who had come to Oregon in 1835 in the interest of foreign missions and had returned to the states in 1837 and in 1838, in company with Dr. Spaulding and his wife, returned to Oregon in wagons and carts as far as Fort Hall and thence on horseback to the Columbia River. Later Dr. Whitman again returned to the states and in 1843 joined the Applegate contingent for Oregon.
The general understanding was that they would not be able to proceed beyond Fort Hall with their wagons, but Dr. Whitman, who had been over the ground, insisted that he could direct them by a route over which the wagons could be taken. Under his pilotage and the management of Jesse Applegate they were successful in reaching the Columbia River. During the progress of this expedition, Lieutenant J. C. Fremont (later General Fremont), who under direction of the War Department was engaged in western exploration, traveled with them intermittently, finally bearing away toward the northwest, reaching the Columbia at The Dalles. Kit Carson was guide and inseparable companion of the lieutenant. Leaving his party at the Dalles, Fremont and Carson with a small detail proceeded down the Columbia to Fort Vancouver for provisions and information. He had learned that there was a cluster of large lakes lying between the Columbia and California which were called Klamath Lakes. Fremont, in his memoirs, spells it Thlamath. The Indians, even when I first went among them, pronounced the name with [a] kind of guttural click that sounded like the letter "T." Fremont talked with Dr. McLoughlin about these lakes and asked for a guide to pilot him. Dr. McLoughlin thought it rather late in the season for such an excursion, but seeing the lieutenant's anxiety for it, arranged for him to get a Warm Springs Indian, who, for what seemed a large present, promised to go. The Indian, however, warned him that it was late and early snows were likely to defeat his purpose. Returning to his party at The Dalles, accompanied by the guide, they set out. Winter opened early and snow commenced before they had got far on their way. The Indian became discouraged and wanted to go back, but on promise of further pay agreed to go on.
At last they came into a country of open glades and marshy tracts, the snow increasing until it was three feet deep and still snowing. Again the Indian pressed to go back, but Fremont insisted that they go on and they proceeded, sometimes in the timber and again in swamps, until finally they reached the limit they could proceed in that direction. He describes it in his memoirs as a broad savanna covered with great reeds (tules) with here and there open spaces of water. The Indian declared that this was Klamath Lake. Fremont did not believe that he looked upon the body of water that had been described to him. The Indian insisted, however, and refused to go further and demanded his pay, which Fremont reluctantly gave him. The Indian then advised him to go east, through the heavy timber, two days and he would come out on top of a high rock and look down into a deep valley where there would be no snow and lots of good grass and game. Reluctantly he took the Indian's advice and turned toward the east. The point which he had reached was what we now know as "Big Klamath Marsh" twenty miles southeast of Crater Lake and at least twenty miles northeast of the Klamath Lake. At the end of two days he came to the top of a high "rimrock." The snow there was three or four feet, yet below him more than a thousand feet was a beautiful valley with a lake many miles in extent, surrounded by broad green meadows, and through his glass he could see antelope and deer in abundance. After some time they found a place where they could get down and rejoiced at getting away from the snow and into meadows where he could recruit his famishing horses. So pleased was he that he called it Summer Lake Valley, which name it bears to this day. The Klamath marshes and timber he had passed through and this beautiful Summer Lake were, at the time of our excursion, a part of Jackson County and now belong to Lake and Klamath counties.
From the top of the rimrock he could see heavy mountains to the south which, in view of the snow which he could see would retard his progress, while to the east and northeast were broad sage plains, apparently level and free from snow, so he concluded to move in that direction. After resting his horses and men for two or three days, they set out to the east. The Warner Range of mountains seemed to terminate on this great central plain of Oregon, almost east of where he was, and he concluded to pass around it. After a day's travel he reached a location where from an elevated point he could see a valley on the east side of the Warner Range, which on its east was again bordered by high mountains. Looking south between these two ranges appeared a long and narrow valley with no mountains in sight at its southern end. Into this long valley he now directed his course. He had heard of another lake called "Mary Lake." Information of this lake had been given to him and the probable latitude and longitude. As he plunged into his valley he found the north end of it to be a desert but further on he came to a lake and around its margin an abundance of meadowland, at the mouth of a beautiful stream coming from the mountains. This stream swarmed with trout where he concluded to rest up for a day. This spot was the subsequent location of the Ish-Jones hay ranch in Warner Valley. Of course he had no name for the valley and on taking his latitude and longitude concluded that "Mary Lake" which he sought must be slightly to the west. Undoubtedly this lake was Goose Lake, which, had he known it, he might have reached by crossing his narrow Warner Range to his right. However he continued south along this valley [with] its string of lakes for about forty miles, when crossing a low divide he came into another line of valleys extending southward. This was what we now know as Surprise Valley, but new to him. He did not find his "Mary Lake," but did come to another large lake which we now know as Pyramid Lake in Nevada, into which emptied a considerable river which we now know as Truckee River. He captured an Indian which he proposed to use as a guide. It had been his intention to return to Great Salt Lake, which he had left several months before. But the season had advanced into winter, and they concluded to follow the Truckee River and cross the Sierra Nevadas into California. Their Indian guide protested that it would be impossible on account of the snow. Fremont disregarded the warning and proceeded to follow the river into the depths of the Sierra. The Indian deserted them in the night and they proceeded without a guide. After the most heartrending experience, and the loss of many of their horses, they reached Sutter's Fort in a most deplorable condition. His account is one of extreme suffering and escape.
Fremont was not satisfied in his search for the Klamath Lakes and returned to his quest with better success in 1846, of which I will write when I come to narrate further episodes in the Klamath country. In my next chapter we will pursue our course toward Montana.
C. B. WATSON.
Ashland, July 11, 1924.
Ashland Daily Tidings, July 14, 1924, page 2
A Day of Tribulation at the Stone Bridge
and a Hurried Trip Down the Lake in a Snow Storm.
On the morning of July 3, we started for the Stone Bridge three or four miles below the Ish ranch. On arrival we could see nothing but a long gash through the tules. The rocks that had been dumped in by General Crook six or eight years before had settled in the mud at the bottom of the slough until all were out of sight. The water was clear all the way across, but we could not tell how deep. H. F. hesitated to send his son ahead with the bell mare and asked me to take the lead while the others would rush the band in behind me, not doubting that they would readily take the water. The pack mules and sixteen of the band followed the bell mare, but the rest refused.
The "bridge" was not straight but had an elbow turn to it about halfway across. As I approached this the water kept getting deeper until the pinto mule was swimming. One of the other mules, seeing the tule just to his right, thought to have a mouthful. As he turned toward it he plunged off the "bridge"' and into swimming water. He was loaded chiefly with flour, which kept him from going completely under, and with a look of surprise he clambered back onto the bridge, while the swimming pinto seemed to laugh at him. I finally reached the eastern bank with my small contingent while the main band was being rushed back and forth in an effort to get them to take the water.
I took the bell off the bell mare and jingled it furiously in a vain attempt to attract the band, but to no purpose. Finally tying up the bell mare to a juniper tree I left my little bunch and astride of "Jupiter," my little saddle horse, we plunged into the water and returned to the band. We used every endeavor to get the band onto the bridge until long past noon. I crossed and recrossed a dozen times. Finally Phillips concluded to try to cross below the bridge. I went back to the east side so that I might attract them with the bell. People who are not familiar with these tule lakes and swamps need to be told that the tule sometimes grows in water ten to fifteen feet deep and will stand four or five feet above the water. Horses swimming under such circumstances cannot see out, nor be seen, and are likely to become confused and swim in a circle. However, we took the chances. The horses were driven in. For a hundred yards or so they seemed to be getting on all right; then they struck deep water and commenced dropping out of sight like sheep over a brush fence until not a horse could be seen. It was an exciting time and we could not tell what the result would be. We could hear them splashing and nickering, but could see nothing. They were in there perhaps twenty minutes when, circling around, they came upon the trail of broken tules they had made going in and began to appear on the same shore from which they had started. The men on that side counted them as they came out and when one hundred had appeared they sent up a shout and I recognized joy in it. They signaled to me to return and bring my contingent back, which I proceeded to do. It was then two o'clock p.m., and we had been struggling with the band since nine o'clock without anything to eat.
It had turned cold, and a storm was brewing, occasional gusts bringing rain and snow. We found a sheltered place and sat down to eat and discuss the situation. We concluded to drive around the south end of the lake, which would entail a sixty-mile trip before we reached the east end of the bridge only a half mile away. We drove four or five miles south along the lake with an increasing storm driving in our faces. Here we camped in a snow storm.
The next day we rounded the lake and by making a forced march came within eight or ten miles of the east end of the bridge. At this time the weather was clear but a cold wind was blowing up the lake so that, leaving the band in a cove of fine meadow, we sought shelter around a point and made our camp. We were tired and knew the horses were tired also and felt it to be safe to leave them without a guard while we prepared our supper and camp. The sun was, perhaps, two hours high when we stopped. After supper I got onto my horse and rode around the point to see if the band was all right. My surprise may be imagined when I tell you that not a horse was in sight. I looked down the lake the way we had come and could see a dust that I concluded was raised by the band. They certainly were making good time, and I felt sure they were being driven. I started after them as fast as Jupiter could travel, but had to slow up after a time. When I did not return to the camp as speedily as was expected, Walrad and Cardwell mounted their horses and came around the point to explore. They saw the tracks of the band going southward around the lake and came on at the best pace they could muster. They overtook me four or five miles away, and we agreed that the horses were being driven by Indians. Soon we came to a canyon that had its course away from the lake and toward the tableland to the east. There we found that fifteen or twenty of the band had turned in. Evidently the thieves had felt that they had not time to follow and kept after the main band. It was agreed that Cardwell should go up this canyon and try to recover his bunch while Walrad and should follow the main herd. It was beginning to cloud up, and thunder could be heard in the southwest and night was coming on apace. We knew that we were gaining on the herd and pushed our tired horses to the utmost. We came near enough that we could hear the pounding of the horses' feet on the alkali ground over which they were being driven. Occasional flashes of lightning revealed the band, and now we saw two men driving them on as hard as they could. We each had a heavy revolver but did not want to shoot toward the horses, so we agree to shoot into the air and then rush them with all the noise we could make. We felt sure that in the dark they could not tell how many there were of us. This we did with the effect that the Indians took to the hills and we hurried around the horses and soon had them turned back. It was then about eleven o'clock. We were tired and so were the horses and we expected that the other members of our party had followed and we would meet them. We reached camp about daylight and were rejoiced to find that Cardwell had recovered the sixteen that had strayed up the canyon. A careful count showed that we had not lost a horse either at the stone bridge nor in this effort of the savages to steal them.
It was only a few miles further to "Old Fort Warner," which though deserted as an army post, we were told was a fine place to camp, and we felt the necessity for a rest. After giving the horses and ourselves a needed rest we started on. We were now going north along the east shore of the lake, which had an irregular margin between it and the high lands that rose at our right hand. This high tableland was bare of timber and rose sheer a thousand feet with a sloping talus at the foot. As the sun rose it lighted up the pinnacles but kept us in the shade. An exclamation from one of the party directed our attention to the highest part of this overlooking rimrock which was brilliantly lighted up by the sun. There on that high jutting crag stood a mountain sheep. With my field glass I could see that he was watching us. Occasionally he would shake his monstrous horns and stamp his feet. We were in the shadow of the cliff and he on its top in the full light of the sun. A more picturesque and noble animal I had never seen before. He was beyond our reach and seemed to know it.
We reached the old fort about noon. It occupied a very beautiful and picturesque spot in a solitary grove of pine, fir and juniper trees. There did not appear to be any other trees in sight. It stood on the very top of this tableland which declined evenly toward the east and gave us a fine view of Steens Mountains to the east and Beatty's Butte, which was a solitary rounded mountain, apparently only a few miles away. The army paymaster at the new Camp Warner had given us written directions for our route, but by mistake had overlooked Beatty's Butte and gave Skull Creek as our next stopping place after Old Fort Warner and said the distance would be about thirty miles, but without water. We made a mistake to our great embarrassment, as will presently appear.
We were surprised to find a lone herdsman at the old fort, looking after a band of cattle he had brought to this spot that spring. He was alone and had fixed up one of the old garrison buildings where he lived in comfort and isolation. There were fine springs of ice-cold water, and he was making butter and putting it away to be carried to a market in the fall. His milk house was a marvel of fitting convenience with its ice-cold water in great abundance. He told us that the Indians came around occasionally but were friendly and he apprehended no trouble from them. He was not surprised, however, at our recent adventure with them. He said that so fine a band of horses as ours would tempt them greatly.
We remained there that afternoon, and the following night and on the next day started out for Skull Creek at the foot of Steens Mountain. This herder told us that from Beatty's Butte we would have a desert of sand to cross without water, but that at Skull Creek there would be an abundance of water and grass. We got an early start the next morning and after traveling about twenty miles reached Beatty's Butte where we found an abundance of grass and water, and relying on our paymaster's directions thought we had only about fifteen miles to reach Skull Creek. Therefore we gave a couple of hours rest and grazing to the band and devoured our lunch. We then started on and were soon in the sand and being scorched by a burning sun. The dust was very dense, and our horses soon showed signs of fatigue and thirst. From then on until ten o'clock the next day our experience was one to remember. Our suffering as well as that of the horses was intense. Of this I will tell you in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 16, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 11, 1924.
We Are Confused with Mirages
and Camp at an Undrinkable Water Hole in the Desert.
The country on both sides of Steens Mountain is noted for its phantasmic mirages. The plain was quite level, with white sage growing flat and but a few inches high. The alkali dust was as fine as powder and in the great heat was suffocating. Two of our horses dropped and we had to leave them. The whole plain for miles seemed in a shimmering heat, and mirages appeared in several directions. We saw lakes sparkling in the distance. Lines of willows appeared as though marking watercourses. Houses, barns and great stacks of hay outlined themselves in the distance, though we knew that they did not exist there in reality. We could see water in several directions and were suffering like the Ancient Mariner, with "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink." Night was coming on and Steens Mountain seemed as distant as ever. Off to the northeast some of the party insisted that they saw a little lake, and Phillips directed me to ride in that direction and see if it was water. After riding about a mile from the herd I came upon the bank of a "water hole." The water was about ten or fifteen feet below the surface with steeply sloping banks. I got off my horse and led him down to it, but after one anxious taste he turned away and refused to drink. I tried it and found it to be an alkali of unbelievable strength. It was ropy with the undrinkable compounds that make it up. I climbed out and when on the bank I discovered that the whole band was coming on a rush. They seemed to have smelled the water and could not be held back. They rushed down the banks, crowding each other into water of sufficient depth to swim them. After a regular bovine riot we got them out. Night had fallen and we did not think it safe to try to go further. There was no grass for the herd, nor sagebrush to make a camp fire. We remained there and watched the horses to prevent them from scattering and wandering away in the dark. At daylight mirages had been dissipated, and Steens Mountain loomed up only a few miles away. We started our herd toward a green spot on the side of the mountain and at nine o'clock were at Skull Creek.
Water and Grass at Last.
It is difficult for one who has never had such experiences to realize the relief of such an oasis in such a desert. The water was delicious, the grass abundant and the spot a regular horse heaven. Here we had a chance to make up for our fast and famishing. Nearby was a lot of wild red raspberries [on] which we gorged for dessert. Walter Myer overdid the thing and a few hours later gave us many hours apprehension lest he perish. We remained there until afternoon, when we concluded to go over the summit and find a camp on the other slope. Walter was complaining but thought he was able to ride. As we climbed the mountain, which had no timber but an occasional juniper tree, we looked back upon the desert of yesterday's suffering and again saw the elusive mirages playing about over the burning sands and alkali. In 1878 and '79 I surveyed much of this same country and grew familiar with a great diversity of mirages. This was the 6th day of July, and our 4th had been spent in rounding Warner Lake and chasing thieving Indians in the evening instead of watching fireworks at the end of a celebration. As we passed the summit we crossed snowbanks of considerable extent.
Myer Grows Ill.Walter Myer seemed to be growing worse, suffering with cholera morbus, and we concluded to camp at the first promising place.
About two miles down the slope we came to a stream of water in the midst of excellent pasturage and made camp. Such simple remedies as we had did not seem to do the sick man any good, and as it grew dark Walter grew worse. I remembered that where I picketed Jupiter I had noticed some wild mint of the variety of which Mother used to make tea for slight stomach troubles. Walrad and I got out our battered lantern and started down the creek to find the mint. Before going I directed that a dozen horseshoes which we carried with us be placed in the fire and heated up. Hunting mint in thick grass in the dark is rather an uncertain undertaking, but we hunted about plucking first one thing and another, tasting and smelling until we found our mint and gathered a good quantity, weeds and all. When we returned to camp we picked it over, separating the mint until we had enough to make a quart of tea. Hot horseshoes were put to his stomach, and the tea, as hot as he could bear it, was given him in good quantity. He declared I was trying to burn him outside and scald him inside. With repetitions of this treatment he grew easier, and by midnight we had our patient sleeping quietly. They dubbed me the "horseshoe doctor," and I held that title for many years.
Indian Is Sighted.Walter was not able to travel the next day so we stayed over and had the celebration that we had missed on the 4th. Leaving Phillips with Myer we went to the top of the mountains to see if we could get a little enjoyment out of the snowbanks. We had a wonderful view from our lofty perch. To the east we looked into Idaho, and to the west the Warner Range loomed loftily. The mirage on both sides of the mountains entertained us with its many whimsies. We saw a beautiful lake at the foot of the mountains in the direction toward which our trail pointed and wondered if we would pass around it to the south or north. The lake appeared to be twenty miles or more in extent and presented a beautiful picture with its shining surface and surrounding meadowlands. The country toward the east, northeast and southeast was an extended sage plain in its somber brown and shimmering heat, bordered in the distance with grim mountains barren of timber. Remembering our experiences of the past two of three days the prospect was not cheering. The day before we had seen what we took to be an Indian on a white pony who seemed to be trailing us. Again today we saw what we took to be the same Indian watching us from a high point on the mountain.
A Slide to Camp.Below us was a sloping bank of snow that extended down the mountain for perhaps a mile. Some of us gathered such brush as we could and prepared them for a coast down the snowbank. Walrad found a flat rock of sufficient dimensions to sit on and concluded to use that instead of brush. As we had come up from the camp we had dug out quite a basin at the lower end of the snowbank to provide water on our return. When all were ready we started on our coasting. It was steeper than we had figured it, and in a few rods Walrad's flat rock got away from him and left him with only his overalls between himself and the snow. We of the brush contrivances fared better, but none of us could stop, and by the time we ran out of snow we had developed astonishing speed. Walrad was headed directly for the basin we had scooped out, which was now filled with water, and into it he plunged with with water up to his armpits. The rest of us lit in a thicket of wild plum bushes, and suffered various bruises, scratches and lacerations; but the worst of it was that our clothes were almost stripped from our bodies and gave us several hours of serious employment after we reached camp patching them up.
Reach Dry Lake Bed.Myer was well on to recovery that evening, and we prepared to move on the next morning. There was no timber on this mountain except a few struggling junipers and now and then a lonely, scraggly pine. We had speculated upon this beautiful lake, about which we had had no information. In the morning we proceeded on our journey apparently toward the middle of the lake in its north and south length. Our horses were strung out on the trail making a procession almost a mile long. Phillips and Oscar were in the lead, Myer and Cardwell about the middle and Walrad and I bringing up the rear. We were surprised as the lake was neared to see that the band did not veer off their course. The water showed ripples on its surface, and on its further shore an astonishing spectacle presented itself. There was a good-sized town with streets coming straight down to the water and terminating at very distinct wharves at which boats were moored. Some of them appeared to be good-sized steamboats. Of course we now know we were again victims of the playful mirage. The head of the band kept steadily on its course and entered what appeared to us, at the rear end of this long procession, to be the water. We could see the ripples and the water splashing as the horses entered it. The water seemed to gradually deepen until only the backs of the horses could be seen and finally their heads and the bodies of the men who were at the front. Then we came to the edge of a white alkali plain that stretched away for miles, so hard that the horses' feet made a ringing as though they were on a cement pavement. We had proceeded for a half mile or so; looking backward, the lake had closed in behind us and we were apparently surrounded with water, in this baked, parched alkali field of heat and drought. I thought of the story of Moses crossing the Red Sea. To us it was an uncanny experience. This dry lake bed was about four miles across when we came out into the sage plain again.
A few miles further on we came to "Old Camp C. F. Smith" where during the Civil War there had been a garrison of volunteer troops whose duty it was to watch the Indians while the regular troops were sent to join the army in the South. The buildings here of course were all empty and the spot abandoned. In the absence of timber the barracks had been constructed of "doby." The roofs were gone and the walls falling in. A mile south of this old camp was a great stock ranch, known as the "Devine Ranch." The owners were possessed of thousands of cattle and horses, and perhaps 25 or 30 vaqueros, many of them Mexicans, had charge of the possessions. The buildings, corrals and great stocks of hay gave the "rancho" the appearance of a town. We camped at the old fort and prepared to rest over Sunday, which would be the next day. We had to change our riding horses and shoe some of them. We had an interesting Sunday among the "buckaroos," of which I will tell in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 18, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 12, 1924.
We Spend the Day Catching New Riding Horses and Breaking Them to Ride.
We went down to the ranch on the evening of our arrival at the old camp "C. F. Smith," which was about a mile away, and asked permission to use one of their corrals in which to catch and halter some fresh riding horses. We were directed to see the madam. We found the "madam" to be the wife of Mr. Devine, the overseer, and one of the owners, who was away on business, and were surprised to see a very handsome young woman, tastefully dressed and apparently well educated. She invited us into her "parlor," which was expensively furnished and presented taste and good management. In fact, everything about the house was as well chosen and arranged as in many city residences. Mrs. Devine had her housekeeper, who was also well dressed and seemed a fit companion to the little lady, who, in the absence of her husband, ruled over a well-appointed kingdom. She seemed satisfied and well informed about the business which they had established in the wilderness. There were no other houses nor white people nearer than the Glenn ranch, situated about forty miles away. Dr. Glenn, who at that time was considered one of the largest farmers in California, and for whom Glenn County in that state is named, had located the largest stock ranch in Oregon on the Dunder-und-Blitzen River at the north end of Steens Mountain, and he and Todhunter and Devine had parceled out practically the greater part of southeastern Oregon between them. The Glenn holdings occupied thousands of acres around the mouth of the Dunder-und-Blitzen, which flowed into a lake that had an outlet and furnished inexhaustible meadows about its border. He also had ranches in the Diamond Valley and other eligible places in that vast region. Each of these great firms had thousands of horses and cattle and little armies of "buckaroos" about them.
Without considering the little army post at Camp Warner, we saw more white men at the Todhunter and Devine ranch than we had seen in our two hundred and fifty miles' travel all together. Here the improvements were on a huge scale suited to the mammoth business engaged in. All springs and water holes for fifty miles were claimed and dominated by these great firms. It was only a few miles south to the line of Nevada and a few miles east of the line of Idaho. The southeastern part of Oregon is known as the "Quinn River country." It is an extended sagebrush plain with oases of meadowlands into which the streams flow and sink. There are extensive tracks of excellent land, and we were told that water could be obtained almost anywhere by moderate digging, while the abundance of wind was used to run their pumps. The absence of large streams or sufficient surface water has held back this excellent section of Oregon, Nevada and Idaho from rapid settlement.
"Busting" Broncos.Mrs. Devine graciously granted the use of such corrals as we required and invited us to take dinner with her the next day, and we returned to camp to spruce up for the coming occasion. Early Sunday morning we drove our band to the corrals and began to select our new riding horses. The buckaroos who were lounging about lent us a hand and we soon had our selections caught, haltered and ready for the saddle. Then the fun began; these horses had never before felt halter or saddle. Walrad was our riata man and could swing a rope as well as any cowboy. When he had caught his horse it was my duty to be ready with the halter. The horses had to be choked down, and as soon as they fell it was my work to drop with my knee on his neck and, catching my fingers and thumb of the right hand into his nostrils, I turned his head upward, in which position he was helpless. The halter was then adjusted and he was permitted to regain his feet. By that time the horse was dizzy with the choking and everybody had to get out of the way. The halter rope was sufficiently long so that I could hold it and keep out of the way until Walrad had removed his lasso. Then all hands went to work to help saddle the new prisoner, and sometimes the bucking animal and his rider gave us real entertainment. The band was of the "Sligart" breed and were not difficult to break. [The stallion "Captain Sligart" was imported into Oregon by W. Cortez Myer in 1865.] By noon we had caught all we wanted and had taken a round of ridings. We then left them to the corral and answered the call to dinner.
A Sunday Dinner.Our own little party together with Mrs. Devine were all who sat at the table. The ranch help ate at their own eating house in another building. The madam had set us a sumptuous repast into which we made raid with little ceremony. She was a city-bred girl and said that she got lonesome sometimes and wished for someone to come from civilization and vary the monotony. She had a piano and played and sang elegantly. We talked with her on many subjects and found that she kept up with current events, and a well-selected library showed that she and her husband were intellectual people. It was fifty miles to the nearest post office, to which they sent their own carrier once or twice a week. A good assortment of papers and magazines decorated her center table, and her talk convinced us that she read them. She told us that she usually went to the city for the winter. I asked if she was not afraid of the Indians. She said that she was not: that they kept from twenty-five to fifty men at the ranch and on the range and were all well equipped for any emergency. The men, she said, though they were mostly uneducated and appeared to be rough, were loyal and kind and she thought would die for her if it were necessary for her protection. The buildings were chiefly of "doby" in the absence of available timber. Of course there was some lumber used, but the distance it had to be hauled over a wild country not yet invaded by roads made the expense and labor almost prohibitive.
A Hidden Ravine.That evening returning to the camp, Cardwell and I indulged in a race. I was riding Jupiter, my own saddle horse. He was a beautiful animal and I took good care of him. Black as a coal, sleek as a button and as nervy as they make 'em, we were great friends and genuine pals. Cardwell was riding a large roan horse and bantered me for a race to the camp. Our race was over a direct line. In our other passage between the camp and the ranch we had not taken this route but had followed a trail that made a detour toward the west. It was a level plain and the sagebrush hid a deep gulch, or ravine, that had been worn in the plain by some torrential rains that sometimes visit the region. We had not been told of this waterway. It had worn to a depth of ten or fifteen feet with vertical banks, and was not discovered until we were on the brink. Cardwell was about one length ahead and his horse had no chance to turn and made a sudden leap, but the distance was too great to be made on this sudden impulse. He struck the further bank with his breast and fell back into the ravine while his rider was thrown clear onto the other bank. Jupiter, being a little behind, whirled to avoid the tumble, but was too close to avoid it and plunged in on the top of the roan with me on his back, and both horses were plunging frantically to get to their feet. Cardwell's tumble had amused me and I was laughing when he yelled, "Get off, you damned fool, he'll kill you." I leaped from Jupiter's back and escaped without injury. Cardwell was badly jolted up and expectorated blood for two or three days. Fortunately neither horse was seriously hurt.
New Horse Ridden.The next morning Walrad saddled up one of the new horses. He had to be blindfolded before he could be saddled and until Eugene had mounted. The blinds were then removed and he proceeded to give us a genuine exhibition of bucking. Eugene Walrad remained on his back for several rounds when the "cinch" broke and rider and saddle lit several feet away in a big bunch of sage, and we had an exciting chase before we recovered the liberated animal.
The Wells.Our route now lay over a level table of sage for twenty miles to "The Wells," which occupied a depression in the plains of several miles in extent surrounded by a rimrock and gave the appearance of a depression caused by some subterranean convulsion. In fact this whole vast region [the Great Basin] exhibits the greatest lava field in the world. In the center of this depression was an extensive meadow. The many lines of willow and the luxuriant grass, looked at from the high tableland over which we had just crossed, promised both grass and water. When we had reached the source of the water I climbed off Jupiter and led him up to what appeared a spring. A large volume of water was running away from it, but the opening looked small and my curiosity was aroused when Jupiter refused to go close enough to drink from it. The water was very clear and very cold and looked to be deep. I secured a stalk of rice grass which grew in abundance all about and which was four or five feet high. I ran this stalk down into the water but touched no bottom. I then took my riata off the horn of my saddle and tying a rock to it proceeded to sound the hole. Though my rope was forty feet long I failed to touch bottom. There were many of these holes, all of the same character, hence the name "The Wells." Our trail turned toward the north and passed out of this mammoth sink by a canyon through which quite a stream flowed, the combined supply of water from "The Wells." We traveled down this stream several miles and camped. We had been told not to camp in the basin of the well, as there was a large amount of wild parsnip scattered all about. This wild parsnip is a very dangerous poison for stock, and we lost two horses from it in passing hurriedly through the basin.
We had good water and grass at our camp, which I will tell you about in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 21, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 15, 1924.
We Camp in Willow Creek Canyon, Carve Our Names
on the Sandstone Cliff and Fight Mosquitoes
On July 12, 1872, we camped in Willow Creek Canyon, where an expansion [i.e., a spreading of the creek] furnished us with abundance of grass and water. The stream is the outlet for the "wells" that we passed. On the east side of the canyon was a sandstone cliff, perhaps fifty feet high. The stone was soft, and many names had been carved in it. On examination of these inscriptions we discovered that a company of volunteers had camped there in 1866, and many of the names were of residents of Rogue River Valley, who had volunteered to guard the frontier during the Civil War on account of the regular troops, who were guarding the outposts, being called to the service in the armies of the North. Many of the men whose names were carved were known to Walrad, Myer and Cardwell. Emulating the example of these soldiers, we climbed the cliffs and carved our names above them. The camp would have been a very pleasant one had it not been for the mosquitoes. Before coming to the coast I had spent some time along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, which were supposed to rival any portion of the world in the abundance and viciousness of mosquitoes. This night, however, I was led to declare, laid the Mississippi River bottoms in the shade. The mosquitoes were not so large as I had seen, but for numbers and viciousness outdid them all. We could not sleep without covering our heads with flour sacks, in which case we risked being smothered. The sting of these insects left us in welts and fiery splotches wherever they touched. Unrested, but glad to get away, we arose at the break of day and prepared to move. About thirty of our horses were missing, and Walrad and I were detailed to look them up while H. F. and the others said they would move the band slowly until we caught up. Mosquitoes had tormented the band so that they could neither eat nor sleep, and the proposition was to get them out onto the tableland away from the pests and allow them to travel slowly and feed on the bunchgrass that grew plentifully among the sagebrush. It was but a few miles to where we would cross the Owyhee River, and they promised to wait for us there if we did not catch up sooner.
Horses Located.Finally after a couple of hours riding we found the stragglers and started them after the band. There were signs about to indicate that they had been driven away, but of this we were not sure. We overhauled the band at the Owyhee crossing. There was a ferryboat there kept by two trappers at the regular crossing of a road that connected Boise City in Idaho with Kelton, Nevada, the nearest station on the Pacific railroad. A semi-weekly stage was kept on this line for the accommodation of the garrison of troops and the people of Boise City and valley. Already a large amount of mining was being carried on in the Boise Basin, in the Jordan Valley and in the Blue Mountains, and communication was kept up between these mines and the mines in Nevada by this road. We were told that four years before our arrival a bunch of Chinese were massacred on this route by the Indians. They were being taken to Nevada and attacked and butchered about where we came into the Kelton road and about two miles from the ferry.
Ferrymen Exposed.Having reached the river and aroused the ferrymen they came over to direct and assist in driving the band into the river a little below the ferry where the banks were suited to entry and exit. The water was muddy from mining that was carried on at the mines near Silver City, Idaho. We drove them in and watched them swim the turbulent stream. We then put our saddle horses and the bell mare on the ferryboat and unpacked the mules, tried to drive them in with the band. They refused to leave the bell mare and cavorted up and down the bank. The ferrymen were particularly active in trying to get the mules into the swimming water after the band, even after we had urged them to let the mules alone, assuring them that they would cross after we got over. We could not understand why the ferrymen should be so much more anxious about the mules than we were. Finally they gave it up and started the ferry across. The mules tore up and down the bank, braying as mules know how, until we neared the opposite bank, when they plunged in after the boat and trotted all the way across the river, the water not being more than mid-side to them. This was a dead giveaway to the ferrymen. They knew that there was no need of ferrying but were anxious that we should not discover the fact. They sheepishly charged us eight dollars for ferrying us over. Phillips smilingly paid it and we then engaged them in conversation about their experiences here. They were trapping and hunting, using the ferry as a kind of side issue to enlarge their exchequer. They had a comfortable cabin and were well supplied with provisions. Their cabin was well marked with bullets that the Indians had from time to time fired into it. They had had quite a bit of excitement during these playful exhibitions of Indian temper. They had quite a bunch of beaver skins, and I bought two fine ones that I sent home to my mother in Illinois after we reached Boise City.
Snake River.The Jordan River emptied into the Owyhee just above our crossing. About twenty miles above the mouth, in Jordan Valley, was an important mining camp named Silver City. About Silver City we were told that there was quite a settlement of farmers and that they were building up an important settlement. We traveled up the Jordan for a few miles and turned to the left by a trail over the "Whiskey Hills" which materially shortened our road to the crossing of Snake River. These were rolling hills, splendidly clothed with bunchgrass that suited our needs. About twenty miles along this trail we came to "Old Camp Lyons," another abandoned frontier post. This post was located just on the line between Oregon and Idaho, and occupied an excellent site for camping. Nothing of note occurred, and the next morning we got an early start, intending to reach Snake River that day. Before reaching this river we again came into the Boise-Kelton road and followed it to the ferry. Here Snake River is a noble stream and we did not need to be told that our mules would never wade it. We drove the band in below the ferry; it was very swift and we expected that we would lose some of our horses. Our party was divided, some being sent across to the other side to help such horses as might need assistance to get ashore. The river was about a quarter of a mile across and very deep. Some of the band swam very strongly and were not swept very far, while others, becoming excited, were carried downstream half a mile. Several had to be lassoed from the bank and pulled ashore. Our pack and saddle horses were crossed on the ferry. Finally after much labor and excitement we counted up and found the whole band safely landed. We began to appreciate the experiences of the early pioneers, who in crossing the country in the early days were not supplied with ferries nor roads and who in many instances had to travel many days before they could find a crossing that with all their courage and ingenuity they dared to undertake. It was now late in the afternoon, and we drove five or six miles on the sage plain to a grassy place where we were told we could get grass and water. We were now following the Boise-Kelton road and were told that grass and water would be scarce from there into Boise Valley, a couple of days away. This plain was without any occupants. In fact we did not see half a dozen white people between Camp C. F. Smith and Boise City. Those we saw told us they were expecting trouble with the Indians and advised us not to undertake to drive our horses beyond Boise, that two bands had already been taken by the Indians between Boise and Helena that year and the drivers were killed. We saw no Indians but had no doubt that they were watching us. Our first night beyond Snake River was not a comfortable one. The grass was short and the water bad. Notwithstanding that we maintained a diligent guard; a part of our band either wandered or were driven away during the night. We followed the tracks and recovered them a few miles away. It is quite certain that they would not voluntarily have deserted the band and grass to wander away into the alkali plain that surrounded us. From this camp we were two days reaching Boise City, which gave us a delightful change from the lonely days spent in the boundless plains. What we found at Boise and what we did for the next six weeks I will tell in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 22, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 16, 1924.
Boise City, with its Thrift and Many Beautiful Homes,
Constituted a Delightful Change from the Weeks
We Had Traveled Through the Wilderness.
The Town Was Filled with Indians in Buckskin and Feathers,
Impudent and Saucy and Doing as They Pleased,
Notwithstanding the Garrison of Troops Stationed There.
As we approached Boise City from the great sage plains spread out to the south we cheered with the prospect of again enjoying a season of civilization. How quiet and peaceful it looked as we approached it. The river was spanned by a very good bridge, and as we entered the city of perhaps three thousand people we were delighted with thrifty young orchards and splendid gardens. Along the side of every street was a canal carrying an abundance of water and every lot supplied with a water wheel which scooped up the water and poured it into the gardens. Looking beyond the town up and down the river we saw attractive farms. It was harvest time and we noticed the appearance of promise of abundant crops.
Indians in War Paint.As we approached the business streets we were startled with the appearance of a large body of Indians in paint, buckskin and feathers going about as they pleased. Many of them were on horseback doing what white men would have been arrested for. As they were not disturbed we were curious to know something about it. We were told that the Indians had been acting suspicious and within two weeks had taken a large band of horses away from parties who were driving them through to Helena, Montana. In fact two such bands had been taken that season and the people in charge of them had been killed. When they learned that our destination was Helena, we were urged to give up the idea of going further east than we then were, that it was almost certain death to us and, at least, loss of our band. Notwithstanding that there was a garrison of troops at Boise, a good deal of excitement prevailed among the people, and they avoided giving offense to the natives. Of course the Indians were not blind to the fact that the whites were afraid, and this tended to make the savages insolent. The Indians were greatly interested in our beautiful band of horses and seemed to know that we were coming. They asked us many questions, to wit: the price of this horse and that.
We were told that we would stand a good show of selling our herd there and advised that we go no further. After a careful investigation of the situation we concluded to take advice and try selling out where we were. In pursuance of that plan we inquired about a suitable range near the city and were directed to drive onto the bunchgrass hills on the north side of the valley. This we did, and put a notice in the papers that we would drive in Mondays and Thursdays for the accommodation of buyers. We found that our herd was attracting much attention and were soon engaged in selling. As the news spread people came in numbers and surprised us with the readiness with which they selected and bought.
See Rogue River Man.We found several men from Rogue River Valley who had come to Idaho with the wave of mining excitement that spread a few years ago. Sam Clayton was a member of the old pioneer family of that name who had settled in the earlier days at Clayton Creek four or five miles southeast of Ashland. Myers, Cardwell and Walrad were acquainted with Clayton. So well pleased were Clayton and his family at seeing friends from their old home that they gave a dance in our honor at their ranch three or four miles out in the country. It was a regular pioneer occasion with all the necessary accessories.
Writer Gets Employment.Our whole party was not needed to look after their horses so I concluded to vary the employment by getting something else to do. My first attempt took me to a sawmill a few miles out where I was set at "off-bearing" from the saw. It proved too heavy a job for me and I only lasted two days. I then secured a job with a threshing machine, with which I stayed until the band had been sold out and our party ready to return, when I joined them.
When I left Ashland it was not my expectation to return. I had planned to go from Helena down the Missouri River home. This doubtless I would have done if we had gone to Helena as we planned. The "Indian scare" thus perhaps changed the whole course of my life. We were in and out of Boise for about six weeks, during which time we sold all of our stock except our riding horses and pack animals. We seemed to make many friends who expressed regrets at our departure. H. F. Phillips was a very genial, jolly fellow and an excellent salesman.
Fort Boise.Those who have read [of] the early pioneer days will remember that Fort Boise was one of the oldest frontier posts this side of the Rocky Mountains and was on the line of travel of these early adventurers from 1837 to 1847. Their course from Boise was westerly down Boise River to its confluence with Snake River. Boise Valley and Payette Valley were very attractive, and so soon as it appeared safe people settled there. Much of it was yet unsettled when we visited it, but since that day it has become one of the chief garden spots in this great interior basin. The great sage plain we crossed between Snake River and Boise is now booming with population. The Snake River has furnished great irrigation projects, and what appeared to us as a veritable desert is now covered with prosperous farmers and happy homes. The Northern Pacific Railroad now crosses this plain, and the thriving little city of Caldwell is built about eight miles south of Boise, while the latter has grown to be a city in fact and is no longer flouted by an insolent savage horde such as we found there. It is not my purpose, however, to try to depict the progress and growth of the country through which we passed. This I may take up at some future time. We traveled over five hundred miles of genuine wilderness, still dominated by its native wild man and at a time when they were discussing an effort to wipe the white race off of the face of the country between the Cascade Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. In the capacity of a U.S. Surveyor and in other capacities I have kept in touch with its growth for more than fifty years and have crossed it in many directions.
It was our intention to return to Rogue River Valley by a route entirely different from our trip out and to that end crossed central Oregon emerging via the McKenzie River at Eugene in the Willamette Valley. To this journey I will address myself in subsequent chapters of this narrative.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 23, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 19, 1924.
A Retrospective Review of the Country Over Which We Traveled
I have devoted the preceding articles in our movements over five hundred miles of wild, Indian-infested country, giving only our rate of progress with a few of the incidents occurring by the way. There were many things happening each day which, though of temporary interest, I have not attempted to detail. At many of our camps we indulged in pranks and playful games such as a company of young men are likely to turn their hands to. Sometimes it was the catching and riding of one of the wild horses on a banter. We were not dressed for company and were unmindful of the grease and dust accumulated in handling bacon and other freight in our packing operations. I have intimated that the pinto mule was a character whose pranks were to be watched.
This mule seemed to greatly enjoy doing such things as he seemed to know would annoy us. For instance, at one time when on account of loosening of the pack on one of the other mules, and when Myer was stooped over tightening the cinch, Pinto thought it a good opportunity to perpetrate a joke. On such occasions he wore a very seriously innocent look as though he were very tired. He'd sidle around and yawn as though he wanted to take a nap. I watched him on this occasion, knowing that his mental processes were essentially mulish. He walked slowly until just opposite the stooping Myer, evidently measuring distance and the most suitable ground to launch a lighting lash of his dainty hooves at the promising part of Walter's anatomy most suited to such an exploit, when he whirled and landed his punch. Myer was knocked headlong under the mule he was busied with, while Pinto at once awoke and galloped off a few rods when he turned around and enjoyed his joke immensely. There is no question but his radical contortions were brought about as yours or mine when we laugh. We all agreed that Pinto laughed. When we were seated about our camp spread enjoying our "sinkers" and bacon, Pinto would slip up quietly behind someone and then launch his dainty head over his victim's shoulder and with open mouth close down on meat, bread, or any other article of diet in his reach and with a squeal and a whirlwind of feet dash away and enjoy his morsel. He was especially fond of bacon. He was a great bluffer, and we had proceeded several days in the notion that the rascal was dangerous. He landed those hind feet with the skill of a boxer. If one approached him he'd shake his head and squeal in the most threatening manner. In some way, but how I never knew, I discovered that he was afraid of me. From that time on catching, saddling and packing him fell to me and I grew to enjoy it. When ready to tackle him, I gathered up his halter and roughly went at him. He'd squeal, shake his head and threaten me, but I paid no attention: I'd slam on the saddle blankets, then the saddle and grab the cinch under him, put it through the loop and commence to draw up on it. He'd swell himself up like a toad to prevent my tightening it. I would then turn my back to him, stoop down with the latigo strap over my shoulder and draw as tightly as I could and then hold it there until he was forced to let his breath go, when I took up the slack and held on for him to let go again. Each time he would threaten to bite me but never did so. By and by I'd have him "cinched up" and then we'd put on his pack. Pinto and I grew to be good friends. None of the others came to a good understanding with him, and he seemed to know that he had been "hoodooed" and sometimes appeared to laugh about it. I sometimes imagined when he had frightened some of the boys that he turned and winked at me. I must not take more time now in describing Pinto. There will be an incident which he played on us on our way home which at the proper time I will give. This was a joke on the whole crowd with serious consequences.
Much of the country we traveled over and considered to be desert unfit for human habitation has since then shown great value to the world. There was no timber to speak of after we passed Goose Lake; nothing but extended sage plains and alkali flats, with at long distances a meadow surrounding a lake or marshy tract, a sink where some stream or collection of springs sank. The country was by no means level in all of these plains; there were barren, dreary-looking mountains here and there.These mountains were of the nature, generally, of "table mountains," that is an elevation rising hundreds of feet with flat top and sage plain covering many square miles. These table mountains were surrounded by "rimrocks," sometimes a thousand feet high with a talus slope at the bottom. Generally, these table mountains were without water. The country between the Cascade Mountains and Rocky Mountains is admitted by the world's geologists to be the greatest extended lava field in the world. It is unique in its character of "volcanic region"; it is estimated that it is covered with an average depth of lava 2000 feet thick. Geologically it is new, and the early pioneer reckoned it of no value for agricultural purposes, because the soil was white and seemed ashy, while the Mississippi Valley where most of them came from had a deep, heavy black soil. They associated these things as a required condition suited to agriculture. The earlier settlers in all this great sage plain went there because of the vast supply of bunchgrass and its suitability for stock grazing.
Nearly every day we would see great herds of antelope on the plains and many mountain sheep in the rocky fastnesses. These herds of antelope were made to present many freakish pictures by the mirage which is always present in hot, dry weather. Frequently we would see a band, apparently a mile away, loping along in their characteristic fashion, that seemed not to touch the ground but to be moving from ten to twenty feet above it.
In the most barren portions the country is subject to dust storms. Looking to the west you will see what appears to be a heavy black cloud rising and moving forward in a very threatening fashion. By and by it will commence to thunder and occasional flashes of lightning will streak this cloud which as it grows nearer presents a most portentous and threatening aspect. Now it is upon us and we are almost stifled with the dust. The cloud is only dust, but to be involved in it is by no means a pleasant experience. The weather will be stifling hot and the dust almost suffocating. The thunder and lightning will increase and while you are wondering what the result will be you are pelted with mud. It is raining and [with] the heavy drops of water it is raining mud.
The hills to the north of the Jordan River were different from most of the country we had crossed. They were more like the rolling prairies seen in some portions of the Mississippi Valley. They were covered with wild grass of excellent quality. At the time of this writing, those hills are very extended grain fields. The Jordan Valley is not so high in altitude as the plains we have been traversing and are highly suited to agriculture which has been made apparent in the past fifty years since the events I have [been] narrating, and thousands of happy people live there. The younger generation listen to the pioneers tell of the stirring events of fifty years ago.
In my next I will invite you to go with me over a new route and am sure there will be something of interest. Fifty-one years has not dimmed my recollection of it.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 25, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 25, 1924.
Homeward Bound Over Historic Ground
It was a beautiful morning late in the month of August 1872 when we bid adieu to our newly made friends at Boise City, Idaho and turned out faces westward, bound for home. As we rode down the beautiful valley and noted the many new homes and general evidence of thrift and comfort, I could not avoid reflecting upon the first immigrants who only twenty-nine years before had invaded this region with their weary families and the first wagons that had ever risked the wilderness west of Fort Hall.
It was the immigration of 1843, known in history as the "big immigration." Prior to that time no one had ever tried to take wagons west of Fort Hall, but this band of intrepid adventurers, listening to the assurances of Marcus Whitman, reached the Columbia River with their jaded teams and worn-out wagons. That little band traveled the same route we were now taking, as far as the crossing of Snake River. I fancied I could see them as with weariness, yet filled with courage and hope, they braved the dangers about them and pushed on. Then there were no farms, no white settlers and only savage Indians to greet them. The Indians at that time were friendly and did them no injury. As we rode along we were "going home"; they were bound in their jaded condition to a country of which they had only heard rumors. They had no homes there but hoped to make them. I wondered whether some of the savages we saw in Boise had not seen this little band of adventurers. It was only two or three years after their great adventure that the savages murdered the guide of this caravan, and many others. They had burned the bridges behind them and had advanced to a point from which retreat was out of the question. The great plains we had so recently crossed, south of our present line, was a terra incognito to this little band, and perhaps had never been invaded by any white man, except possibly some of the hardy Hudson Bay trappers. They were destined to many hardships ere they reached the Willamette Valley whither they were bound. The terrors of the Columbia were ahead of them, but they were cheered by such hardy souls as Marcus Whitman and the Applegates, whose names are recorded indelibly in the early history of Oregon. They even ventured beyond the bounds of their own country and were destined to become the fathers of a new country to be watched over under the laws and Constitution of their own beloved United States. And it had been less than thirty years since these weary people traversed this same route and mapped out this trail.
In the beginning of the narratives, I told how the Applegate party sought a better route in 1846 for others bound for Oregon and gave the world the first authentic view of our own beloved Rogue River Valley. These were among the most reliable directors of the immigration of 1843 and makers of the trail we were now following. Stirred by that great humanity that was in them, only three years later they blazed that other trail which passed through the lake country and introduced the first wagons into the Rogue River Valley, as in 1843 they were among the first to drive wagons down the Boise River and on to the Columbia. On this trip we have followed these intrepid pioneers over a part of their routes separated by more than five hundred miles. Not much could be expected of accomplishment in the twenty-nine years that had passed since they drove over the country we were now looking upon. Yet we who have read the history of these great struggles and have traveled over the vast regions compassed by them are struck with astonishment at the advances they made.
At Snake River.I am almost tempted to stop here and compare the then with what we know of the present condition of these vast stretches as they appear in this, the year of our Lord 1924, but I must not break the continuity of my reminiscences. On our second evening we reached the banks of Snake River, and again we turn our thoughts back to the immigrants of twenty-nine years ago. Some of the party had gone ahead to devise the best method of crossing this mighty treacherous river. Here we stood on the banks and speculated upon the courage they had displayed. Here we found a ferryboat and a little cluster of houses. Here was a little store where we could buy the few things we needed, and a blacksmith shop where our horses could be shod. But in 1843 there was no ferry, no human habitation, nothing but the boundless wilderness and the mighty river. We had read how they used their wagon boxes for ferries: how they buoyed them up with inflated skins and such dry logs as the drifts had kindly left them. A few miles below began the terrifying canyon where still-earlier explorers suffered almost indescribable hardships and many perished. Now the crude ferry worked by ropes and pulleys was our friendly assistant, and even that seemed risky.
Sturgeon Landed.We had reached there early in the evening and asked many questions of the three or four men we found there. There were women and children who were still subjected to the hardships of pioneers. They were glad to see new faces and asked many questions. Looking about I discovered very large hooks which had been hammered out on the anvil, and asked what they were for. I was told that they were for catching sturgeon, and that there were many sturgeon in the river. None of us had ever seen sturgeon and urged the blacksmith to see if he could catch one for us. In answer he directed us to go to a skiff that was moored to the bank a short distance away and pull on a rope we would see fastened to the boat. He said there was a small sturgeon tied to the other end of the rope and we could pull him out and inspect him. We went, clambered down the slippery bank and got into the boat. Cardwell and Myer were first to get hold of the rope and commenced pulling. It came along all right until the tail was above water when the fish gave a big flop and almost upset the boat. Myer and Cardwell were almost thrown overboard. After exclamations of surprise several of us got hold of the line and using more caution finally drew the fish into the boat. He weighed more than a hundred pounds and to us appeared as a monster. They are powerful fish and sometimes grow to weigh almost a thousand pounds. They are great enemies to the salmon fishermen, in whose nets they get tangled and often tear to pieces.
Blue Mountains Crossed.The next morning we crossed the river and proceeded northerly for eight or ten miles near the banks of the Snake. Here we approached and forded the Malheur River, which at this point empties into the Snake. Turning now westerly we followed the north bank of the Malheur to the mouth of Willow Creek, where the town of Vale now stands. Water and grass being plentiful, we camped. During the day we saw but one settler, though the country was quite inviting, being a rolling prairie of apparently good soil. Our next day's route was by trail along Willow Creek for many miles until we entered fine forests of yellow pine, fir and cedar. We were now climbing the Blue Mountains and found the country quite different from the dry sage plains further south. On this second day we saw no settlers but found a band of sheep pasturing on the luxuriant grass that covered these rolling hills as far as we could see. This band of sheep was, of course, minded by a herder who told us that he scarcely ever saw a white man, except the mail carrier who traveled this trail on horseback from Boise Valley to John Day Valley on the west side of the Blue Mountains. These mountains reach a high altitude and are bountifully supplied with forests. It was a great and pleasant change, traveling and sleeping in the shade of these great trees, by the side of running brooks of pure cold mountain water. We had for months been wrestling with sagebrush, alkali and mirages, and the change was a very grateful one. We crossed the summit and camped a little way down the western slope in the forest. The indications were that snow fell to the depth of many feet, and we found the wrecks of showshoes, skis and hand sleds, indicating tribulation of the mail carriers in winter time. Leaving this camp near the summit, our course was west down the Blue Mountains into the John Day Valley. Soon after coming into the valley we came to the new settlement called Prairie City. It was a flourishing-looking pioneer village not yet beyond the period of box shanties. A good many settlers had located in the valley but mostly further south toward Canyon City and John Day City, situated near where the John Day River emerges from the mountains that lie to the east. Here is where the 1862 mines were discovered that had set miners wild and caused a stampede from Rogue River to the new "diggin's." This mining camp had been opened up ten years before our visit, and the towns had put on the airs of permanence and a certain degree of opulence. Some of the most eligible cities in the valley nearby had been improved into farms of profit and beauty. The mines furnished a market for the produce of the farmers, who were getting well fixed and apparently satisfied with their new homes, which they exhibited with pride. They had already demonstrated the wealth of their soil and the adaptability of their climate to a great variety of fruits and vegetables. From the time we left the ferry on Snake River until we reached Prairie City, the only white man we saw was the lonely sheepherder. I will tell you more of the valley and country between it and Prineville in my next chapter.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 28, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 25, 1924.
We Camp in John Day Valley a Few Miles South of Prairie City,
at the Ranch of a Former Resident of Rogue River Valley.
Permitted to Smell Ripe Apples and to Thump Watermelons,
But Are Offered None.
After passing Prairie City we traveled southerly up the valley toward John Day City for a few miles and camp at the ranch of a former resident of Rogue River Valley, with whom, again, Walrad, Cardwell and Myer had been acquainted. I have forgotten the name, but remember that the proprietor of the new farm seemed delighted to meet his former acquaintances. He was very proud of his new possessions and took delight in showing us around. He had come here about the time of the gold discovery, and remembering the harvests reaped by his Rogue River brethren who chose farming instead of mining he picked out a most eligible spot and laid his plans for a reward from the miners who would furnish him a market for his product. The Blue Mountains rose grandly to the east and unclaimed square miles of pasture and meadowlands spread out around him. From the mountains he secured the timber for improvements and fuel and a beautiful mountain stream furnished an abundance of pure water. Among his first exploits was to secure a good variety of apple, pear and other fruit trees and berries. His first efforts at agriculture assured him that the had made no mistake, and he calculated upon the day when this beautiful valley would be teeming with population and the valley producing rich harvests for agriculture and horticulture.
When we reached there his little orchard was in its second year of bearing and had a good crop. I remember how proudly he piloted us through this beautiful young orchard and pointed out his variety of fruit with which it was loaded. One tree [was] loaded with a crop of early apples now ripening, great big yellow fellows. He bent down a limb and invited us to smell the delicious fruit, but did not authorize any closer acquaintance with it. It had been many months since we had been so tempted, and our mouths watered for a bite as he turned us away to inspect his splendid watermelon patch nearby. They were ripening also and we were permitted to thump them, but were given no invitation to make a more formal acquaintance. We examined his splendid hogs and cattle and listened to his eloquent words of boosting the beautiful valley. We bought milk and fresh vegetables with which we regaled ourselves and prophesied that in a few years our friend would be a very wealthy man, for he knew how to charge for his produce. I suppose he has long ago passed to his reward without knowing that we had both apples and melons that night. Not much, but enough to awaken that taste we have all known the delight of.
That night we had an all-night serenade from what appeared to be a thousand coyotes. There was, perhaps, but one, but he made up a full orchestra all by himself. In the night I got up and shot in the direction I thought the sounds came from and heard him run away from the opposite direction. These rascals are ventriloquists and will throw their notes in all directions.
The next morning we moved on to John Day City and recognized the activity of a mining camp. Our route from here was west with some points south over a high rolling prairie with an occasional sage plain. Innumerable jackrabbits and coyotes were in evidence everywhere, with occasional bands of antelopes to vary the monotony. I shall not trouble any readers with our various camps, only to say that water was scarce until we struck the headwaters of the Ochoco River. Grass was good all along the route. One camp was Old Camp Watson, another outpost garrisoned in the more troublous days. These vast prairies have since been a great hunting field where thousands of deer and antelopes have been recklessly slaughtered simply for their hides and horns until few have been left. We were drawing nearer to the Cascades day by day and scanning the snowy summits of the Three Sisters, where we expected to cross this mighty range. Traveling the long stretches of the Ochoco, our way was uneventful. We had no band of horses to keep our attention as we had going out, and the hot sun and monotony bred drowsiness, and we slept as we rode. Finally we came to Prineville, a shanty town of four box houses and several "dugouts" that housed the meager population. To the south and immediately across the Ochoco rose Bear Creek Buttes, six thousand feet high and marking the geographical center of Oregon. Many years afterwards I was destined to have experience there and on "the desert" beyond. In this immediate part of the state are remarkable forests of juniper timber. These trees are unlike any other and are very picturesque. Some of the bodies are very large and the branches spread mightily, like the cedars of Lebanon. This timber is valuable chiefly for fence posts and firewood. The bruised foliage is full of odor, and the freshly cut bodies give off a strong pleasant aroma. The tablelands lying to the north were high and covered with bunchgrass and sagebrush. Since then extensive wheat fields have been developed and the higher lands given over to sheep and cattle. Between John Day and Prineville we did not see a white man nor a budding settlement. We stopped at this pioneer settlement only a short time to get directions for our crossing of the Cascades. From this point there was a wagon road which crossed the Cascades to the Santiam River and thence on to the Willamette Valley. We followed this road to the Deschutes River, where we camped.
In my next I will tell of our adventures crossing the mountain.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, July 30, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 26, 1924.
A Lone Woman Our Companion in Camp
The night after leaving Prineville we camped on the bank of the Deschutes River in a beautiful juniper grove. The water was excellent and nearby was a fine patch of grass for our horses. We had just completed our arrangements for supper when we were surprised to see a buckboard driven up, drawn by a span of small mules and driven by a lone woman. She stopped and asked if we would object if she camped nearby. Our consent was heartily given and to our inquiries she told us that she had driven all the way from Salt Lake alone. Her appearance and frankness convinced us that her story was true. We invited her to eat with us and helped her to make up her camp for the night, then we all seated ourselves by the comfortable fire of aromatic juniper and she told us her experience. She had seen very few white people on the way, but was not interfered with by the Indians. They sometimes came to her camp and always wanted to know where she came from and why she was traveling alone. The story she told to them was the same she told us. She said her husband had died at Salt Lake while on their way to The Dalles, where she had a brother. She was about thirty years old and rather comely. She talked like a woman who had been well raised and was not without culture. She said that the Indians had treated her well and sometimes brought fresh venison or antelope to her. They asked her many questions and expressed surprise at her courage in traveling so far through a wild country alone. They asked her if she was not afraid of them. She told them she was not, that the Indians had treated her well and she thought they were good people. They liked to be trusted and complimented, as did their white brethren, and returned kindness for the trust which she exhibited. She said she got very lonesome sometimes but felt that she was getting near her destination, and this made her happy. We all felt great sympathy and admiration for her and did all we could to make her comfortable. In the morning we again invited her to eat with us and before we packed our mules we harnessed hers, hitched them to the buckboard and loaded in her few traps. We were sorry to see her drive off alone, but our ways parted there, we to the west and she to the north. She went away very cheerfully and gave each one of us a hearty handshake and an expression of thanks for our company. She said it was the only night she had not camped alone. I have often wondered if she reached The Dalles safely and if she found her brother.
This is an instance that proves that the Indians were not without a genuinely human sentiment. I have many times been treated generously by the Indians and have grown to feel that the whites were generally to blame for the outrages committed upon them.
We watched this brave little woman until she passed out of sight in the juniper woods, then packed up and turned toward the river, which of course we had to ford.
Deschutes Is Forded.The river is quite an imposing stream at this point. The water is very clear and runs with a strong current. The Santiam road, of which I have spoken, crossed at this ford, which requires good engineering to be safe. Pinto's legs being short, [he] came near being thrown from his feet by the strong current. We finally reached the opposite shore and, as directed, followed the road for about two miles where we turned to the left on a trail for the headwaters of the McKenzie River. This trail led to the top of a high tableland and necessitated climbing the "rimrock." The trail up this rimrock was one calculated to act severely on susceptible nerves, really a dangerous exploit. We made it, however, without mishap and reached the tableland a thousand feet above the road. The trail had been cut out in 1862 for the passage of a band of cattle that were driven by Felix Scott and others from Eugene to the mines at John Day. Many of the people in the upper Willamette Valley donated work and supplies to open up this trail, realizing its importance in connecting eastern Oregon and western Oregon. It had been practically abandoned after the mining rush was over, and in many places was almost obliterated. We traveled for many weary miles over this elevated sage plain in the sweltering heat of an August sun. Not a living thing did we see, except jackrabbits and coyotes. As evening drew on we came to the edge of a magnificent pine forest and to the bank of a beautiful mountain stream, which had been described to us at Prineville as "Squaw Creek."
Phillips had ridden ahead and said he would look out for a camp. He was out of sight when we reached the creek. It looked like an excellent place to camp, and after some discussion, believing that Phillips would presently appear, we unsaddled and proceeded to make camp. As he did not appear within a reasonable time we sent Oscar up the trail to find him. In a little while he appeared in high dudgeon because we had camped without his orders. He had gone about a mile further on where the trail crossed the creek and unsaddled to wait for us. He was very drastic in his comments and finally aroused the anger of Walrad, who resented his attitude. The result was a general row in camp, the only one during the whole summer, and [it] came near being a serious tragedy. We were all tired, and our supplies were running low. Many things which under other circumstances would have been considered trifling were magnified. We were starting on the climb of the Cascades. Above us rose the "Three Sisters," dressed in immaculate white, looking grand and lonely and, apparently, near at hand. We were just entering one of the most imposting forests in the world. Our trail was dim and uncertain; the stream was a splendid one that came leaping, sparkling and singing from its source in the snowbanks above us. Our position was interesting and very impressive, yet bathed in a loneliness that was inexpressible. Our sentiments were aroused to accord with the turbulent stream hard by. As the night came on we seated ourselves by the roaring campfire and remained [as] silent as the darkness that was closing in about us. The atmosphere was one that suggested war. Only a spark was required to start a blaze. We finally rolled into our blankets, but I doubt if much sleeping was done. A panther screamed nearby, but little notice was given to it. A bear came sniffing about and terrorized our animals. All were up in a minute and were ready to make common defense. The spell was broken, some words were spoken and before lying down again all had been aroused to the senselessness of our display of ill nature. It only required a word to start friendly relations and bring about a common understanding. Mutual apologies were exchanged and we retired again and slept sweetly till morning. We called this Quarrelsome Camp and laughed about it the next day.
In the morning we were up early and on our way, climbing higher and higher, the majesty of the forest all about us and the gentle breeze singing a soft lullaby in the tree tops. We aroused many deer by the way and occasionally spied a grizzly. Everything suggested the presence of much game, but not a sign of human life outside of our little party. As we climbed higher we felt the rarity of the atmosphere. We had left the stream and there was no sound save as we made it. That impressive silence so characteristic of high altitudes seemed to press us on all sides with sensations that were indescribable, but are known by every mountaineer. On and on we clambered over a difficult trail, sometimes uncertain if we were still on it. We emerged from the timber into great lava beds that looked fresh, the basaltic lava reflected back the direct rays of the sun until we yearned for the shade. And now we came to the snowbanks, thirty feet deep in these last days of August, and began to realize what we had heard about the intense reflection of the sun from the gleaming surface. We were on the north shoulder of the "North Sister" at an altitude of perhaps eight thousand feet, and had a wonderful view. To the east was spread out immense expenses of the great sage plains with which we had made intimate acquaintance. To the west an interminable forest was spread out, and the canyon of the McKenzie could be traced for many leagues. Still above us toward the higher peaks and all about us was snow and silence. To the north we could see Mt. Jefferson, and in the dim distance to the west we knew lay the Willamette Valley which we thought we could see but would not have sworn to it. These monstrous snowbanks were the sources of many streams, the most valuable possessions of those who had settled in the valleys below. A smoke was seen away down the mountain and caused us some speculation. Our greatest danger now was that of not being able to find our trail when we should leave the snow. The direction we recognized as the one we must follow led toward the McKenzie thousands of feet below us. By and by we had crossed the snow and again came into those wonderful lava beds that even now are far famed. It was a continual wonder to us how that band of 600 cattle had ever been made to negotiate such a route. Finally we reached the timber line again, found our trail and after a mile or so came to the bank of a small crater lake with a margin of grass and camped.
Here we had some more thrills, of which I will tell in my next.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, August 1, 1924, page 2
Ashland, July 29, 1924.
Crater Lake; the Crippled Duck; a Swim that Almost Becomes Tragedy;
Short of Provisions; Pinto Gets into Camp and Destroys the Little We Had.
We Leave Camp Without Breakfast and Find a
Huckleberry Patch; a Long, Hungry Ride Down the Mountain.
Foley Springs; Outing Party and Food.
The little lake beside which we camped is a crater lake of unknown depth. It is almost circular and is surrounded with a margin of meadowland that, in turn, is surrounded with magnificent larch and other trees peculiar to the high altitudes. It was a beautiful spot with the great snowbanks two or three miles above us and in plain view. To the west was an opening through the trees and untold thousands of acres of grand forest covered the rapidly declining mountainside. The situation and view was one to arouse the poet's muse, and
"Around this lonely crater lakeThe sun was a couple of hours high and, realizing the shortness of our commissary, I borrowed Myer's Winchester rifle and tried by luck at a duck that swam quietly out on the lake. I broke its wing and Cardwell proposed that he and I swim out and get it. I demurred that its broken wing would not interfere with its swimming. He continued his banter, however, and I finally consented. Cardwell was a better swimmer than I and the water was almost ice cold. After going out a short distance I balked and turned back. A dry pine log lay on the shore, and I proposed we put it into the water as a support. This we did, Al taking the front end and I the back end where there was a fork in the log.
There lingered not a breeze to break
The mirror which its waters make."
Of course the duck swam way from us as we knew it would. The lake was about half a mile wide and we had reached about half way to its center when Al was taken with cramps and the situation looked critical. I told him to get on the log and I'd try to push it to the shore. He was excited and in pain and in his efforts fell over the log and went under, but came up almost at once and after another effort got on the log. I now let down to see if I could touch bottom. The further down I went the colder it got and when I reached the log again I was shivering. I turned the log toward shore and after great effort landed. Al was so exhausted with the pain and effort that it was some time before he could dress himself. We returned to camp and found a meager repast, it being deemed best to save the residue [for] breakfast. When taking an inventory we found a little bunch of dried apples, a very little sugar and about a quart of flour. These we carried in separate sacks. We twisted up the mouths of the sacks and for better protection piled our pack saddles and other equipment on top.
Provisions Low.We went to bed with some apprehension of a long fast the next day. We had no knowledge of the distance to a place where we could replenish, nor in fact were we sure about our trail. We knew there was game in the forest, but we were not hunters and had but one gun. So it stood us in hand to guard our little supply.
Pinto Turns Robber.Early the next morning we were up, and our first glance at our sacks disclosed the fact that we had been robbed. It was plain who the robber was. Pinto had slipped up and, scattering our packs, got hold of the provision sacks and shaking each in turn had picked up what he would of dried apples, sugar and flour from the grass and dirt. We thought with Bobbie:
"The best laid plans of mice and men
Gang aft agley."
Huckleberries Found.We caught the culprit and throwing him down whipped him with switches till he squealed like a pig. This diversion, however, did not allay the sensations of an empty stomach. The beauty of our camp was no longer visible. Our whole thought was, When shall we get something to eat? We packed up, mounted our horses and headed down the mountain. Occasionally we noticed the smoke we had seen the day before and speculated on the possibility of a dangerous forest fire, a friendly camp or possibly some adventurous hermit clearing up a new home in the wilderness. A few miles down the steep trail we emerged from the timber and entered a space of several hundred acres of brush, high as the horses' backs, in places higher than our heads as we rode along. The brush was loaded with large purple berries. None of us knew what they were, but looked good. We looked ahead where Oscar Phillips rode the bell mare and saw he was gathering them in and munching with gusto. Myer, Cardwell and I concluded to watch him awhile, and if they seemed not to hurt him we would try them, and by and by we were gathering and eating with energy. Walrad thought they were huckleberries but was not sure. We found them to be delicious and filled up on them. A hungry man, however, will not be wholly satisfied with berries, but they were certainly better than nothing. We afterwards learned that they were huckleberries. I have become quite familiar with this fruit since then, but have never seen huckleberries so large, luscious nor in such prodigal abundance as in this patch which I have since learned has become the mecca of annual berry hunting campers from the valley.
A Camp and Provisions.As we reached lower altitudes through this wonderful forest we were kept busy following the trail. It was very steep in places and had been overgrown with brush and cluttered by fallen [omission] glimpse of the smoke we had seen from the summit. The day was wearing away and our hunger not appeased. Finally the smoke seemed close at hand and we could see that we were nearing the river. Our trail led us around some cliffs that hid the river from us. On passing these cliffs, and without any warning we came into a camp where several families; men, women and children, [were] romping about or lolling in the shade. I have never seen calico that looked so gorgeously fine in my life. They were as much surprised to see us coming out of this towering wilderness as we were to see them camping on its border. A few words were sufficient to enlighten all hands. We were at what now is known as "Foley Springs," which has grown to be a great summer resort. This was the first year that wagons had been enabled to reach the springs, or families to be taken there. They were improving the conveniences and attractions of the spot, and the burning of their refuse had caused the smoke we had been watching.
We soon made our wants known and were generously and promptly supplied. Among other things they furnished us with magnificent trout just taken from the water. We forgot our tribulations in the enjoyment of a banquet supplied by dainty hands, garnished with the welcome voices of women and children. It was luxury which, under the circumstances, [was] most to be appreciated.
The river here is a beautiful stream, clear as crystal, with the bodies of myriads of fishes clearly to be seen. The men had built a suspension foot bridge across the river with long fir poles which was a work of genius and engineering skill.
We tarried an hour or so in this friendly company, and as the sun was yet a couple of hours high concluded to go on down the river to make our camp. We were told that a settler had appropriated a tract of attractive land about two miles below and had a stack or two of hay where it was thought we would be able to get feed for our horses. We were also told that we would not strike much in the way of settlement the next day, so we purchased enough from these kindly people to carry us over the next day and pursued our way.
We found the settler and learned that he had been here for several years having nothing but a pack trail connecting him with civilization until the enterprising people of the valley had cut the road to "The Springs." We got what hay we wanted and a few vegetables he had procured. He was a bachelor and was waiting until he might have some neighbors when he intended to get him a wife. This we thought was considerate. Such men form the backbone of a new country We camped with comfort and had hay to sleep on, a luxury for us. We felt that we were now getting within calling distance of "home." What a wonderful word is "HOME." It seemed that we had been away years, and now we had a road instead of the uncertainties of a trail through the wilderness.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, August 4, 1924, page 2
Ashland, August 1, 1924.
The Scene Changes Rapidly as We Near the Willamette Valley.
A Beautiful Land Emerging from Savagery to Civilization.
As civilization advances into nature's wilds, the recovery is indexed by the roads that are pushed out further into the wilderness. The outposts are manned by the most hardy and adventurous who must have roads to connect them with marts of trade and keep them in touch with the progress of the age. The roads we were on, like all pioneer roads, were not much more than a trail, but pointed the way to centers that were rapidly building. One thing I could not avoid noticing, that hardy sons of adventure were always hearty in their greeting, royally unselfish and cheerfully divided their possessions with the needy traveler. They lived and communed with nature, and the lessons they learned tended to develop that humanity that acknowledges the Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. Our host of the night bid us Godspeed and invited us to stop and see him if we passed that way again. There is always more than mere words in these sympathetic greetings and partings. The sentiments disclosed are such as the experiences of pioneers necessarily cultivate. If we were to pursue our inquiry on this line we would discover why the great Northwest has so rapidly grown into important states. Among these early adventurers were the cream of many lands. It required a hardihood to venture and a deep intelligence to accomplish what they did under such vast vicissitudes. Many started across the great plains as youths just entering manhood and reached their destination prepared to take on the work of statesmen.
As we plodded our way by the side of this beautiful river, listened to the music it made and communed with each other and with our surroundings, I could not but feel that some mysterious impulse was directing purposes toward higher things. We passed an occasional cabin in a small clearing, or noted the choice of a beautiful glade with a musical stream and tried to visualize what that spot would disclose a half century afterward. Babes unborn then would be men and women fifty years hence, and the clearing responded to the efforts of more than a generation would represent a splendid home of plenty and comfort, its inmates recognized forces in the operation of a great state.
Hog Joins Company.About the middle of the afternoon, a lonely hog came grunting from the brush at the roadside and, falling in behind us, followed until we camped near the river in an open glade. He seemed contented and accepted such meager scraps as we could spare him and rooted around to fill out his evening meal. In the morning he was still there and greeted us with friendly grunts. When we started on he fell in behind and followed as he had done the day before. About noon we encountered a forest fire that had crossed the road and we had to dodge burning brush and shy around burning logs. This was very embarrassing to the hog, who in efforts to avoid the fire sometimes got several rods behind. On such occasions he would squeal as though his heart was breaking, apparently begging us to wait for him. When finally he succeeded in extricating himself from the apparent danger he would sprint up until he had caught up with us where he'd fall in with a grunt of contentment and trot along beside us. Toward evening we came to the most pretentious place we'd seen. There was a good house and barns, quite a field in cultivation, with hogs, cattle and chickens about. Here our hog turned in with a grunt of satisfaction and bade us goodbye, saying by his swinish actions that he had got home at last. My readers will be just as able as I to figure out how he had got so far away, and to account for the "hunch" which he evidently had that prompted him to follow us back. We noticed among the other hogs what we interpreted as a rejoicing at the prodigal's return.
Scene Changes.The scene was rapidly changing. The mountain growths were giving way for the growths of the valley; groves of oak, madrona, ash and other hardwood. The continuous forests were surrendering to open glades and the hillsides were spotted with grassy slopes covered with the succulent bunchgrass. While there were may eligible spots not yet claimed, the recurrence of farms with grain fields and meadows were more frequent, and bearing orchards were in evidence, the roads were growing better with many side roads leading to settlements that were not in sight. A great state was in its early growing stage, and sign boards gave information of communities that we could not see.
Another Camp.The sun was growing low in the west when we came to a place more pretentious than any we had seen before. A good house, freshly painted, barns, corrals, broad fields, stacks of hay, extensive stubble fields from which the grain had been cut with stackyards indicating a heavy yield, together with an orchard in bearing and a garden to gladden the heart of a hungry man. We concluded to camp nearby and feed our horses with fresh hay and, perhaps, a little grain. They had traveled far and were commencing to show the result of hardship. Mr. Phillips hailed the proprietor and asked if he could supply our wants and was answered cheerfully in the affirmative. As is usual in such cases many questions were asked and answered from both sides. Asked about meat he invited Phillips and me into his smokehouse; the rest of the boys were making camp. Here was a great abundance of splendidly cured meat. We selected a fine ham, and then listed the things we wanted, bread (we'd only had sinkers cooked by the campfire since we left Boise and yearned for good, old-fashioned bread). The wife said she had just baked up a lot and could spare us several loaves. That sounded good, and we were hungry. We got fresh butter, two gallons of fresh milk, coffee enough for supper and breakfast, some potatoes and other vegetables. We asked about the orchard and were told to go in and help ourselves. We thought about our enthusiastic friend out in John Day country, especially when this farmer filled a basket with apples and plums and would take no pay for them. His charges for the other supplies were absurdly low. We got plenty of hay and bought a good feed of threshed barley. It was good to see how our jaded stock went after it. As you may judge we had a jolly banquet around our campfire that night and discussed our crater lake experience.
Eugene Is Reached.The next day we reached Eugene City about noon. We crossed the Willamette River on a rope ferry and saw a steamboat lying at the wharf. This began to look as though we were getting back into civilization. The town had about two thousand or twenty-five hundred population and looked businesslike. Everybody we talked with was optimistic about the future. It was my first view of the Willamette Valley, and I was surprised and delighted at its magnitude, beauty and apparent productiveness. There Indian troubles were over but only a few years had passed and many of the actors in the early trials were still there and ready to tell their experiences. We went on to Creswell, where we camped for the night. The Oregon and California Railroad had been completed to Comstock, a few miles south of Creswell. There were perhaps half a dozen houses at Creswell and not more than that at Cottage Grove. This was a very beautiful country and was rapidly filling up. The next day we passed through Pass Creek Canyon, so named because it was the pass across [the] Calapooia Mountains, through which all the early travel from north to south had to pass. This was the old stage route between Portland and Sacramento. When we passed through it the railroad was not yet completed, though a construction track had been laid as far as Oakland, sixteen miles north of Roseburg, where we camped the second night after leaving Creswell. The next day after leaving Oakland we passed through Roseburg, which was the most important town after leaving Eugene. That night we camped at Roberts Hill, a few miles north of Myrtle Creek, where a few houses and a flour mill stood. We were traveling through Umpqua Valley, which possessed a varying beauty differing from all other sections we had seen. This valley, like the Willamette, was rapidly filling up, and even then gave evidence of the importance it has since achieved. We left the Umpqua at Canyonville, a village even then of some importance. We were now following the old stage line and met the stages each day. From Canyonville our course was up the "Canyon" to the crossing between the Umpqua and Cow Creek, the same route now traveled by the Pacific Highway. We found no one between Canyonville and Cow Creek and but few houses there. Then over the Wolf Creek Hills and the Grave Creek Hills, camping wherever night overtook us until we reached Grants Pass. Here was a stage station about a mile east of where the city of Grants Pass now is, but there was not a house where the present city is.
Home Again.Leaving Grants Pass we traveled up Rogue River on the north side to Rock Point, where there was an eating station on the road and a bridge over the river. There were no houses where Gold Hill now is, and the stage road skirted the foot of the mountains to Willow Springs, an important mining camp, and thence to Jacksonville, a town then of extreme importance to Southern Oregon. Phillips and Cardwell lived at Jacksonville and were now at "HOME." Walrad, Myer and I lived at Ashland, but remained overnight at Jacksonville, and were welcomed by our Ashland friends the next day.
It was now the middle of September, and on the 29th of November following the first overt act in the Modoc War was committed, and for many months all of Southern Oregon seethed with excitement, which if my readers desire it I will presently tell them about.
C. B. WATSON.Ashland Daily Tidings, August 7, 1924, page 2 This was the last installment of the series.
Ashland, August 2, 1924.
ReminiscenceIt was Sunday morning, May 20th, 1877, in the town of Ashland. The crowd were watching the motions of a man who was intently engaged in packing away to the best advantage the detached portions of that interesting machine known as the "Linkville Stage Coach." The portions being secured inside and on top of another interesting machine and one with which I was so soon to form an acquaintance the remembrance of which will be coexistent with my memory, and undoubtedly be incorporated with my midnight dreams. This last-named "machine" is most familiarly known as a twelve-hundred-pound, four-horse lumber wagon; none of your light, springy vehicles, but one that when under way forcibly impresses him who takes passage thereon that he's traveling, and one that is not doomed to the fate of the wonderful "one-hoss shay." The man engaged, before mentioned, is also familiarly known as "Bob," the stage driver, a fine, jolly, intelligent and genial gentleman grown fat with fun and good living, round and rubicund with jollity, though on this occasion a sad expression suffused his usually smiling face and a sense of uneasiness and dread hung upon every movement. In explanation of these strange things I was informed that an incident had occurred on the day before known to stage men as a "breakdown," and if I intended to take a trip to Linkville next day I there beheld the mode of conveyance and it was incumbent upon me to make my preparations accordingly. Four o'clock a.m. was the time for starting. Distance 62 miles, route over the Cascade Mountains; elevation 6,000 feet or more; rocks not sufficiently softened to make our contact with them comfortably pleasant.
BY C. B. WATSON
In the fall of 1872, the "Ashland Academy" was organized, with Professor J. H. Skidmore as president. In that early day Ashland was laying the foundation for its present reputation as a school town. I had just returned from my trip to Boise City, Idaho, heretofore published in the Tidings. The late Wesley Mitchell, my uncle, in partnership with B. F. Reeser, had opened a combination grocery and hardware store in Ashland, and I was installed as a clerk to look after the store nights and mornings while I attended the Academy and slept at the store.TO KLAMATH FALLS IN 16 HOURS
The Academy had not yet opened when one day there came into the store a young man, twenty-five or six years old. He was convalescing from a serious illness suffered somewhere on the coast in California and had come on horseback via Crescent City and said he was teaching penmanship and desired to get a class at Ashland. This being somewhat in my line I undertook to help him organize a class. He was a very fine penman and soon became popular. He wanted to get into the Academy as a teacher and was engaged to take charge of the commercial department and classes in elocution, and will be well remembered by the oldtimers as Professor W. T. Leeke.
Mr. Leeke taught there for several years. He was very efficient and became very popular at the school and in the community. He and the writer became pals and took a very active part in the affairs of the little town and in social affairs. In 1874 Mr. Leeke married Miss Anna Farlow, sister of our fellow townsman E. J. Farlow. Miss Farlow was a very beautiful and talented young woman, but died within a year after their marriage, and her body now rests in the old cemetery. Some years later Mr. Leeke married a Miss Quigley, also a teacher in the Academy.
For some years the school was very popular and drew its students from Northern California and from as far north as Roseburg and beyond. From time to time changes were made in the management and students and teachers were scattered, some never to meet again, others only at long intervals. Mr. Leeke took charge of the Indian schools at the Klamath Agency and subsequently became sub-agent at Yainax. In this occupation he spent five years.
L. S. Dyer had been Indian agent at the Klamath Agency in 1872 and '73, and was present at the assassination of General Canby and Commissioner Thomas during the Modoc War. After Mr. Dyer quit the agency he came to Southern California and became one of the pioneer community that settled the Ontario district near Riverside. He was enthusiastic about this new settlement and persuaded Mr. Leeke to invest at what is now Uplands. He quit the reservation and came to Southern California. He became active in the community, but was soon offered a superintendency of the Indian schools of the Northwest and spent two years in that capacity, gaining high recommendation for efficiency.
At the close of his superintendency he returned to his interests at Uplands and began the planting of an orange grove on the tract he had purchased. All of this country was at that time a desert pure and simple, but it had been learned that with water the soil was wonderfully productive, and these men who had settled there were men of nerve and vision. A great irrigation project was started, and W. T. Leeke was made president of the company, which position he held for fourteen years, and under his supervision the desert was "made to blossom as the rose." A more beautiful region is not found in the confines of Southern California, and W. T. Leeke, at the age of eighty years, has a beautiful home at the little city of Uplands, two miles from Ontario, on Euclid Avenue, one of the most beautiful drives I have ever seen. An avenue fourteen miles long, two hundred feet wide, shaded with gigantic pepper trees throughout its length and bordered its whole length with beautiful homes, surrounded with fruit, flowers and fragrance.
Mr. Leeke's second wife died 35 years ago, leaving him with three small children, two boys and a girl. His daughter, Edith, has been his housekeeper for many years, and his boys are married and doing for themselves. One of them is superintendent of a large plantation and factory in Mexico, of which he and his father own the controlling interest.They have 1500 acres, and Mr. Leeke visits the plantation once or twice a year and is treated like a nabob. He is president of a bank at Uplands and vice-president of another at Ontario. His ranches produce an abundance of oranges, grapes and grapefruit.
I wrote to him a few weeks ago, and he came at once to Laguna Beach in his car and remained with me for two days and took me back with him, where I spent almost a week and was driven by him all over the wonderful country. We visited Ontario, Pomona, Chino, Riverside, Redlands, Colton, San Bernardino and other places. We passed through one vineyard of 9,000 acres and vineyards that in the aggregate are said to cover more than 30,000 acres. Many of these vineyards are planted in clear white sand, but are wonderfully productive.
I passed through this country in the spring of 1881 and then it was nothing but desert everywhere, and oh, what a change! I had not seen my old friend for forty years, and our days together were red-letter days for two old men who were boy pioneers together. We had much to talk about, and many incidents long forgotten were brought to memory and discussed. He brought me back to Laguna Beach and stayed two days again. I talked much of Ashland, its improvements and its beautiful park and schools, and he and his daughter have declared their intention to visit Ashland. If and when he does come, I bespeak for him a reception of cordial greeting and attention due to him.
Laguna Beach, Cal.Ashland Daily Tidings, August 6, 1925, page 4
August 1st, 1926.
STAGE OVER MOUNTAIN WAS ONLY ROUTE THEN.
Known as Linkville.
[In] First Volume of Ashland Paper in 1877 Appeared Following Story from a Traveler.
At 4 on Monday morning I was aroused from slumber and informed that the stage was ready and soon found myself seated beside "Bob," the stage driver, contorting my countenance to conform as nearly as possible [to] the condition of the road and the speed of our four grays as they whirled us away toward breakfast at the rate of ten miles an hour. The air was sharp and bracing and the stars seemed to wink, smile and sparkle with an expression of sarcastic delight at the prospects before us. This of course we did not relish, but as protest was useless and also most inconvenient, we used our utmost endeavor to keep the perch and our seats also.
Soda Springs was reached in good time, and we felt much cheered and reassured to behold "little faces at the window" and larger ones smiling at the door. Hot coffee, ham and eggs gave us new strength to encounter the perils ahead. We are now at the foot of the mountain, and a fresh team was pawing at the rack to bear us on. This team consisted of six strong specimens of the equine race, two of which had never been hitched but once or twice before; consequently five men were brought into requisition not so much to help us start as prevent our starting too soon; for some time driver and assistants were kept at a respectful distance by the lavish use which our young bay made of his rear defenders, but by a judicious manipulation of expletives, superlatives and some of the most soul-stirring and emphatic expressions known to the Oregon vocabulary, all things were righted and I found myself again seated beside "Bob the stage driver." A flourishing of the driver's arm, the discharge of a bombshell from the end of his whip cracker, a lunge, a jar and a desperate effort to prevent being hurled off into space brought back to mind the important fact that "we were traveling." Impressions were made on all sides and one in particular struck me very forcibly, viz., that 'twas our province to crumble all the rocks found on or in the vicinity of the road "to Linkville." A strange jumbling of sounds and sights seemed to surround us, and only one of the five senses appeared to remain intact, and that the sense of feeling, and I could only gain consolation in the thought that probably philanthropists in after ages might hear of this sacrifice to appease the wrath of the traveler's god and eulogize our unselfish offering, but whether we were being crushed beneath the wheels of Juggernaut or pounded to death in a quartz mill I was unable to determine.
We had advanced to a considerable distance with naught to relieve our situation, which was growing monotonous in spite of the great variety of our movements, when we met the pleasant and affable gentleman from Fort Klamath who we were informed was on his way to the house of the girl of his choice and only a couple more suns were to rise ere he should fold his blushing bride to his heart and be overwhelmed with happiness. A halo of joy seemed to encircle him, and we saluted with a smile, intended for encouragement, but I was sorry for the effort, for I fear 'twas too sickly to be appreciated. We were now nearing the summit of the mountain and moving among the clouds, but I failed to observe that the rocks were softening. Noon came and with it dinner, a change of horses and again we were moving on. Some relief came in the shape of a snow storm, but we were now on the down grade and had no time to speculate upon the mutability of human affairs or the changefulness of climate. "Business is business," and when my pilot, the commander of our craft--"Bob the stage driver"--cried "Down brakes" I complied with unerring certainty and [never] missed my aim.
We descended to better roads, the excitement wore away, my load of brake-tending responsibility dropped off. I lapsed into silence, finally to slumber, and at 8 p.m. I was grasped by the hand of Linkville's accommodating hotel keeper, smiled at by the boys, warmed at the stove, fed by the cooks and at the earliest convenience rolled myself into the arms of Morpheus and dreamed that I was transformed into the head of a battering ram and used to demolish the walls of ancient Troy.
Now, stranger, reader, traveler, I have one request to make of you. If in the course of human events "it becomes necessary" for you to travel over the Linkville stage route and you see an opportunity to roll a rock out of the pathway of "Bob the stage driver," I beg of you in the name of justice and mercy don't, I beg of you, don't neglect to do it, and if the Hon. County Court of Jackson County would for a short time turn their attention toward the rising sun and administer the imperative duty demanded of them by the interests of its people and the traveling public in the way of improving the Linkville stage road, future generations will bless them, "Bob the stage driver" will bless them and if they ever have occasion to cross the mountain with him, his jolly good-natured and mirth-loving disposition will be pleasant to recall in after life. Your years will be lengthened, by it your prospect for the future will be brighter and remembrance of the past more pleasant, and I can assure you that you'll be carried through on time. But two things are necessary to keep in order to enjoy it, viz., your seat and temper.
C. B. W.Ashland American, April 1, 1927, page 1
Last revised January 31, 2020