Rocky Mountain Life

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Rocky Mountain Life  (1846) 
by Rufus B. Sage
Rocky Mountain life; or, Startling scenes and perilous adventures in the far West, during an expedition of three years (1857) (14777526545).jpg



Startling Scenes and Perilous Adventures




Dayton, Ohio:



Objects of a proposed excursion. Primary plans and movements. A Digression.


Rendezvous for Oregon emigrants and Santa Fe traders. Sensations on a

first visit to the border Prairies. Frontier Indians. 29


Preparations for leaving. Scenes at Camp. Things as they appeared. Simpli- city of mountaineers. Sleep in the open air. Character, habits, and costume of mountaineers. Heterogeneous ingredients of Company. The command- ant En route. Comical exhibition and adventure with a Spanish compa- ny. Grouse. Elm Grove. A storm. Santa Fe traders. Indian battle. 34


The Pottowatomies. Crossing the Wakarousha. Adventure at the Springs. The Caw chief. Kansas river and Indians. Pleading for wldskey. Hick- ory timber. Prairie tea. Scenes at the N. Fork of Blue. Wild honey. Return party. Mountaineers in California. Adventure with a buffalo. In- dian atrocities. Liquor and tiie Fur Trade. Strict guard. High prices. 45


Country from the frontiers to Big Blue ; its geological character, &c. Novel cure for fever and ague. Indian trails. Game. Large rabbits. Antelope, and their peculiarities. Beaver cuttings. Big Blue and its vicinity. Dangerous country. Pawnee bravery. Night-alarm, (Prairies on fire.) Platte river. Predominant characteristics of the Grand Prairies, and theory explanative of of their phenomenon. Something to laugh at. "Big Jim" and the ante- lope. 54


Deserted camp. Big Jim's third attempt as a hunter. Buffalo and other particu lars. Big Jim lying guard. Butchering. Strange selections. Extraordi- nary eating, and excellence of buffalo meat. Brady's Island. The mur derer's fate. Substitute for wood. A storm. Game in camp. Strange infatuation. Tenacity of buffalo to life, and how to hunt them. Cross S. Fork of Platte. Big Jim's fourth adventure. 63

                                                                     (7) vii CONTENTS.


Ash creek. Pawnee and Sioux battle-ground. Bread-root. The Eagle's Nest. Mad wolf. Number and variety of prairie wolves,—their sagacity. Mad bull. Making and curing meat. Big Jim still unfortunate. Johnson's creek. McFarlan's Castle. Deceptiveness of distances. Express from the Fort. Brave Bear. Bull Tail. Talk with the Indians. Speech of Marto-cog- ershne. Reply. Tahtungah-sana's address. 75


The Chimney. A bet. Spur of the Rocky Mountains. Scott's Bluff. Roman- tic scenery. Mimic city. A pyramid. A monument. An elevated garden. Mountain sheep. An Eden. Death in camp. The wanderer's grave. Horse creek and gold. Goche's hole. Arrival at Fort Platte. Remarks by the way. Prairie travel. Locality and description of the Fort. Indian lodges. Migratory habits of mountain and prairie tribes. Scenes at Fort. Drunken Indians. Tragical event. Indian funeral. Speech of Etespa- huska on the death of his father. 90


Coast clear, and Trade opened. More visitors. Smoking out the natives. Inci- dent illustrative of Indian character. Expeditions for trade. Black Hills. Rawhide. An Indian and a buffalo chase. Deep snow, extreme cold, and painful journey. L'eau-qui-court. Remarks. Lost. White river ; its val- ley, fruits, and game. Building site. The Devil's Tea-pot. Troubles with Indians. Theft and its punishment. Indian soldiers. Christmas extras. Outrageous conduct. Rascality of traders. "That Old Serpent." Indian superstition, religious tenets and practices. Notions upon general morality. 103


Dangers connected with the liquor trade. Difficulty with Bull Eagle. Scenes of bloodshed and horror. Cheating in the fur trade. How the red man becomes tutored in vice. A chief's daughter offered in exchange for liquor. Indian mode of courtship and marriage. Squaws an article of traffic. Di- vorce. Plurality of wives. 116


Tahtunga-egoniska. High gaming. Weur-sena Warkpollo, a strange story. The Death Song, a tale of love. Medicine-men. Extraordinary perform- ance of Tahtunga-mobellu. Wonderful feats of jugglery. 125


Food for horses. Squaws and their performances. Dogs and dog-meat. Re- turn to Fort Starvation. Travel by guess. Death from drinking. Medi- cine-making. A Burial. Little Lodge and the French trader. A speech eONTENTS. In connciL Journey to White river. High winds and snow Intense guf- feringa and painful results. I35 CHAPTER XII. Another drunken spree. Horses devoured by wolves. An upset. A blowing up. Daring feat of wolves; A girl offered for liquor. Winter on the Platte. Boat building. Hunting expedition. Journey up tlie Platte, island camp. Narrow escape. Snow stonn. Warm Spring. Pass of the PiaiLe into the prairies. A valley. Bitter Cottonwood. Indian forts. Wild fruit. Roct- diggmg. Cherry tea and its usea. Geology of the 'country. Soils, grasses herbs, plants, and purity of atmosphere. Horse-shoe creek, a. j>auiher. Prairie dogs and their peculiarities. 143 CHAPTER XIIL The Creek valley. The Platte as a mountain stream. Canon. Romantic pros- pect. Comical bear story. Perilous encounter with a wounded bull. Ge- ological remarks. Division of party. Safety of spring travel. La Bonte's creek. Remarks by the way. Service-berry. Deer Creek. General observations. Moccasin making. Box-elder. Bear killed. Excellence of its flesh. Different kinds of bears in Oregon and the mountains. The grizzly bear, his nature and habits. jgg CHAPTER XIV. Desperate encounter with a grizzly bear, and extraordinary instance of suffering. Close contest. A comical incident. Cross Platte. Canon camp. Sage trees. Mountain sheep, and all about them. Independence Rock ; why so called, and description of it. Devil's Gate. Landscape scenery. 159 CHAPTER XV. Return route. Oregon trail from Independence Rock through the Soutli Pass. Cross the Sweet Water and Platte. Mountain Fowl. Journey up Medicme Bow. Dangerous country. A fight with the Sioux. Tlie " Carcague." A surprise. Viait to the Crow village. Number and character of the Crow nation. Selling a prisoner for tobacco Descripticm of I^ramie I'laina. 165 CHAPTER XVI. Sibille's-hole. Novel bitters. Chug^vater. Gold. Curiosity. Affaii's at the Fort. Amusements. (Gambling among squaws, and games played. Squaw dres»3s, and riding fasluon. Items of interest to the curious, proving the in- tercourse of the ancient Romans with tlie people of this continent. 173 OHAi^TER XVU. Singulai exhibition of natural affection. Embark for the Stales. Scarcity of proYudonB and consequent hardship and suflfering. Extraordinary daring of JL CSOKTENTV. woItos. Difficulties of navigation. Novel diet Fishing. 4. fish itoiy, and another to match it. A bull story. Hard aground and dismal situation. Extreme exposure. Cold, hungry, and wet. Again afloat Re-supply of provisions. Camp on fire. A picture of Platte navigation. Country north of river. Adventure with a bull. Indian benevolence. Summary of hard* ahipe and deprivations. Abandon voyage. 185 CHAPTER XVm. Bunting excursion. Thirst more painfiil than hunger. G^eological observations. Mournful casualty. Sad scene of sepulture. Melancholy night. Voyage in an empty boat. Ruins of a Pawnee village at Cedar Bluflf. Plover creek. Cache Grove. Thousand Islands. Abandon boat. Exploring com- pany. A horrible situation. Agony to torment. Pawnee village. Exem- plary benevolence of an Indian chief. Miserable fourth of July. Four days* starvation. Arrival at Council Bluff. Proceed to Independence. 193 CHAPTER XIX. The country Detween the Pawnee village and Bellevieu, and from that to Fort Leavenworth. Leave Independence for the Mountains. Meet Pawnees. Indian hospitality. Journey up the South Fork Platte. Fort Grove. Bea- ver creek. Bijou. Chabonard's camp. Country described. Medicine Lodge. The Chyennee ; their character and histoiy. Arrive at Fort Lan- caster. Different localities in its neighborhood. Fatal Duel. Ruins. 200 CHAPTER XX. Old acquaintances. Indian murders. Mode of travelling in a dangerous coun- tiy Mexican traders. Summary way of teaching manners. Fort Lancas- ter and surrounding coimtry. Resume journey. Cherry creek and connect- ing observations. Sketch of the Arapahos, their country, cliaracter, &c. Camp of free traders. Blackfoot camp. Daugherty's creek. Observations relative to the Divide. Mexican cupidity. Strange visitors. The lone trav- ellers. Arrive at the Arkamas. General remarks. Curious specimens of cacti. Fontaine qui Bouit, or Natural Soda fountain. Indian superstition. Enchanting scenery. Extraordinary wall of sandstone. 210 CHAPTER XXI. Tkinity of the Arkansas. Settlement. The Pueblo. Rio San Carlos, its val- leys and scenery. Shooting by moonlight. Taos. Review of the country travelled over. Taos ; its vicinity, scenery, and mines. Ranchos and Ran cheros. Mexican houses ; their domestic economy, and filth. Abject poverty and deplorable condition of the lower classes of Mexicans, vith a general review of their character, and some of the causes contributing to their pr^ •ent degradation. The Pueblo Indians and their strange notions. Ancieat tample. Character of the Pueblos. Journey to the Uintah river, and obse^ mtiMu by the way. Taos Utahs, Pa-utahs, Uintah and Lake Utahs. Tha CONTENTS. Diggers ; misery of tlieir situation, strange mode of lying, with a sketch of their character. The Navijos ; their civilization, hostility to Spaniards, ludicrous barbarity, hraver^^ &c., with a sketch of their country, and why they are less favorable to the whites than formerly. 221 CHAPTER XXII. Uintah trade. Snake Indians ; their country and character. Description of Upper California. The Ea.«tern Section. Great Salt Lake and circumjacent country. Desert. Digger country, and regions south. Fertility of soil. / Prevailing rock and inineraJs. Abundance of wild fruit, grain, and game.*^ Valley of the Colorado. Magnificent scenery. Valleys of the Uintah and other rivers. Vicinity of the Gila. Face of the country, soil &c. Sweet spots. 3Iildness of chraate, and its healthines.s. The natives. Sparsity of inhabitants. No government. All about the Colorado and Gila rivers. Abundance of fish. Trade in pearl oyster-shells. Practicable routes from the United States. 232 CHAPTER XXIII. {ffinerala. Western California. The Sacramento and contiguous regions. Principal rivers. Fish. Commercial advantages. Bay of San Francisco. Other Bays and Harbors. Description of the countiy ; tei-ritory northwest of the Sacramento ; llamath Mountains ; California range and its vicinity ; southern parts ; timber, river-bottoms ; Valleys of Sacramento, del Plumas, and ItJare ; their extent, fertility, timber, and fruit ; wild grahi and clover, spontaneous; wonderful fecundity of soil, and its products ; the productions, climate, luins, and dews ; geological and minei-alogical character ; face of the country ; its water ; its healtliiness ; game ; superabundance of cattle, horses, and sheep, their prices, &c.; beasts of prey; the inhabitants, who; Indians, theix character and condition ; Capital of the Province, v.ith other tovras ; advantages of San Francisco ; inland settlements ; foreigners and McfxieaM ; Government ; its full military strength. Remarks. 239 CHAPTER XXIV. VitdtoTs at Uintah. Adventures of a trapping party. The Munchies, or white Indians ; some accomit of Ihem. Amusements at rendezvous. Mysterious city, and attempts at its eiploration,— speculation relative to its inhabitants, I^ave for Fort liail. Camp at Bear river. Boundary between the U. States and Mexico. Green valleys, &c. Comitry en route. Brown's-hde. Geological observations. Suda, Beer, and SteamJ3oat springs ; their peculi- arities. Minerals. Valley of Bear river ; it^ fertility, timber, and abun- dance of wild fruit. Bufialo berries. Superior advantages^ of tliis section ACneral tar. 250 CHAPTER XXV. yipit HaQ ; iti histoiT, and locality. Information relatlv* to Owgom, Booad^ xii CONTEIfrS, uids and extent of the territory. Ita rivers and lakes, with a concise descrip- tion of them severally. Abundance and variety of fish and water-fowl. Harbors and islands. Oregon as a whole ; its mountains and geographical divisions. Eastern Divison ; its wild scenery, valleys, soil, and timber ; volcanic ravages ; country between Clarke's river and the Columbia. North of tho Columbia ; its general character. Middle Division ; its valleys, prai- ries, highlands, and forests. Western Division ; a beautiful country ; ex- tensive valleys of extraordinary fertility ; productive plains ; abundance of timber, its astonishing size and variety. A brief summary of facts. 258 CHAPTER XXVI. Climate of Oregon ; its variableness ; its rains ; a southern climate in a ricrth- em latitude. Productiveness ; grain, fruits, and flowers, wild and culti- vated. Geological characteristics. Soils and prevailing rock. Minerals, &c. Variet)- of game. Wolves. Horses, and other domestic animals. Population, white and native ; Indian tribes, their character and condition. Missionary stations, and their improvements. Present trade of Oregon. Posts of the Hudson Bay Company. Settlements. Oregon City, its situa- tion and advantages ; about Linnton ; about Wallammette valley, Fualitine plains and Umpqua river ; Vancouvre, and its superior advantages. Kind- ness of Hudson Bay Company to settlers. 269 CHAPTER XVII. The manufacturing facilities of Oregon. Commercial and agricultural advan- tages reviewed. Rail Road to the Pacific. Route, mode of travelling, and requisite equipment for emigrants. Importance of Oregon to the United States. Incident in the early liistory of Fort Hall. Why the Blackfeet are hostile, and bright spots in their character. Mild weather. Leave for the ( , Platte. Journey to the Yampah, and sketch of the intermediate country. New Park. Head of Grand river. The landscape. Different routes to Fort Lancaster. Old Park. 277 CHAPTER XXVra. From Grand river to Bayou Salade. Observations by the way. Description of the Bayou. Voracity of magpies. Journey to Cherry creek. Country en route. Crystal creek. Abundance of game. Antelope hunting. Remark- able sagacity of wolves. Snow storms and amusement. Ravenn. Move camp. Comfortable winter quarters. Animal food conducive to geneiul health and longevity. A laughable instance of sound sleeping. Astoiiish- ing wol fine, rapacity, Beaver lodges and all about beaver. Hunting excur- Bion. Vasques' creek, its valleys, table lands, mountains, and prairies. Camp. Left alone. Sensations, and care to avoid danger. A nocturnal viaitor. Thrilling adventure and narrow escape. A lofty specimon oi •*f«ttindovm stairs." Geological statistica. 287 CONTENTS. X» CHAPTER XXIX, Kttom to the Fort. Texan recruiting officer. Nev/ plans. Volunteer. Th«  Chance Shot, or Spacial Providence. Texan camp. Country contiguou* to the Arkansas, from Fontaine qui Bouit to the Eio de las Animas. Things at rendezvous. A glance at the company. Disposal of force. Marck up the de las Anhnas. The country ; Timpa valley, and its adjoining hills, to the de las Animas. The latter stream ; its canon, valley and enchanting scenery. Tedious egress. Unparalleled suffermg from hmiger, toil, and cold. Wolf flesh and buifalo liide. Pamful consequences of eating cacti. A feast of mule meat after seven days' starvation. Camp at the Taos trail. The adjacent couirtry. Strict guard. A chase. The meet reward for treason. 300 CHAPTER XXX. March dovm the Cunarone. Junction of the two divisions. Country between the de las Animas and the Cimarone. Perilous descent. Canon of the Cimarone. Soil and prevailing rock. A fort. Grandeur and sublimity of scenery. Beauty of rocks. Cimarone of the pain. Fruits and game. Wide- spread desolation. A dreary country. Summer on the. Desert. Remarks. Encounter with Indians. Nature's nobleman. Wild horses and diflerent modes of catching them. Failm-e of expected reinforcements. March into the enemy's country. Ancient engravings upon a rock. Boy in the wolf's den. A man lost. Forced march. Torment of thirst. Remarks. Th«  lost found. Expulsion for cowardice, — its efiect. 309 CHAPTER XXXI. Mexican camp. Pursuit. Advance upon Mora. Enemy discovered. Coub- try between the Rio de las Animas and Mora ; its picturesque beauty. Ad- mirable point of observation. Fortified position. Battle of the pass ; order of attack, passage of the river, storming the enemy's camp, and number of killed, wounded and prisoners. Council of war. Prisoners released. Message to Amijo. Return march. Mexican army. Attacked, and results of action. Mexican bravery. Retreat. Cross the Table Mountain. New species of wild onions. Pilarch down the de las Animas. Discouragements accumulate. Disband, Sketch of factions. Texan prisoners. Arrival of , reinforcements. Battle of the Arroyo: killed, wounded, and prisoners. Retreat of Amijo. '' Stampede." Frightful encounter with the Cumanchei and Kuyawas. Discharge of troops. Affair with Capt. Cook. Surrender •o U. S. Dragoons, and failure of expedition. Return to Texas. Journey to the Platte. Country betv»een the Arkansas and Beaver creek. Feastinf at camp. Crows' eggs. Lateness of season. Snow-storm in June. An Indian fort Serio coraico adventiure with a wolf. IndJauB. Sonf ef Hm pigltt-bird. 811 Page:Rocky Mountain life.djvu/18

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.