Having perused the foregoing pages, the reader may have determined to emigrate to the one or the other of these countries, if so, his next inquiry is, in reference to the routes, the equipment, supplies, and the method of traveling, all of which will now be noticed, in their proper order. In all there are eight distinct routes to those countries, six of which lie through the different passes, mentioned upon a former page; one of the remaining two is that by the way of New Orleans, Vera Cruz, the City of Mexico, and Matzatlan; and the other is the route by sea, by the way of Cape Horn. There are but five of the above routes, which are worthy of a particular notice; all of which, I will now proceed briefly, to describe. The most northern of them, is that lying through the great gap, between Brown's and Hooker's Peakes, through which the Canadian emigrants, and the far traders of the Hudson's Bay Company, annually pass, in their journeying from Canada, to the lower settlements in Oregon. As this route is very seldom, if ever, traveled by citizens of the United States, it is not deemed important, to enlarge in its description. I shall, therefore, proceed to the description of that lying through the great southern pass, near latitude 42 degrees north. Upon this route, the emigrant sets out from Independence, Mo., and travels thence, five or six days, in a direction, about west by north, to the Kansas or Caw river, crossing which, he proceeds thence northwest, about five days, to the Platte river; thence continuing up the Platte, upon the south side, to the junction of its north and south forks, thence up the south fork, on the south side, one day, to the usual ford; where crossing the river, and continuing thence, in a direction about northwest by north, three days, to the north fork; thence up the north fork about four days, to Fort Larimie, and Fort John. Leaving these forts, the emigrant pursues a course, about west by north, over the Black hills, seven days, to Sweet-water, near Independence rock; thence up Sweet-water, nine days, to Little Sandy; thence west by north four days, to Green river, or the Colorado of the west. Crossing Green river, and continuing thence, down it three days; thence west one day, to Ham's fork, which is a branch of Green river; thence up Ham's, fork, three days; thence west by north, one day, to Muddy river, which is a branch of Bear river; thence down Muddy and Bear three days, to the soda springs; thence north northwest up the two days; and thence west over the high lands one day, to Fort Hall. From this fort, those who go to Oregon, continue down Lewis' river, fifteen days, to Fort Wallawalla; and thence down the Columbia, ten days , to the lower settlement in Oregon. Those who go to California, travel from Fort Hall, west southwest about fifteen days to the northern pass, in the California mountains; thence, three days, to the Sacramento; and thence, seven days, down the Sacramento, to the bay of St. Francisco, in California. The former part of this route, is but one vast concatenation of plains and prairies, of almost unbounded extent. The entire country, from Independence to Fort Larimie is a vast plain. entirely destitute of timber, with the exception of the small portions occasionally found upon, and in the immediate vicinity of the streams. The principal timber; found upon all this portion of the route, is found upon the Kansas or Caw river, and its tributaries; besides which, there is very little found even upon the streams. No scarcity of timber for fuel, is experienced, until you arrive upon the Platte; when, for the first time are you are reduced to the necessity, of substituting the excrement of the buffalo for fuel, which you are under the necessity of doing, the greater part of the distance, this side of the mountains, and, for considerable distance, after crossing the mountains. From Independence, to Fort Larimie, no serious obstructions are found; as upon all this part of the route, you cross neither mountains, nor unfordable streams. The Kansas, and the south fork of the Platte, are the only streams of any importance, which are crossed upon this portion of the route; and they are always; very readily forded, at the season of the year at which emigrants pass through that region. The buffalo are usually seen upon this portion of the route, about fifteen days drive from the States; but they are also found, some seasons, within ten days drive from the States; while, at other seasons, they are not found within twenty days drive. This however, depends much upon the forwardness, or backwardness of the season, and the fact, of their having been hunted by the Indians, who inhabit that region. If the season is backward, they will not have migrated from the south, as early as the season, at which emigrants pass through that country; and if they have come out upon their northern migratory tour, in time for the emigrants, it frequently happens, that the Indians of that section hunt them to such an extent, that they are completely dispersed from all that region. The buffalo are also, generally found upon all portions of this route, from the Platte to the, Rocky mountains, and even, for several hundred miles west of the Rocky mountains, both in Oregon and California; and wherever they are found, they are always seen in the greatest abundance, and are killed with the greatest facility. The only hostile Indians, that are seen between the States and Fort Larimie, are the Pawnees, who are a powerful and warlike tribe, and who are, generally, very troublesome to the emigrants; yet they are, generally south of this route, at the season, at which emigrants pass through that portion of the country. The Cumanches, and the Sioux sometimes visit this region, but they are, very seldom here met by emigrants yet there are several other tribes, inhabiting and visiting this portion of the country, which although much less powerful and warlike, are, at times, very troublesome to emigrants and others. Fort Larimie is situated on Larimie's fork of the Platte, about seven hundred miles from Independence. About one mile South from this fort, there is, also, another fort which is called, Fort John, and which is situated near the same river. These forts are constructed in a manner, quite similar to Fort Hall, which has been before described; and they are occupied by traders and trappers, for similar purposes. The trade, at these forts is entirely with the Indians, which consists in the exchange of dry goods, provisions, guns, ammunition, blankets, and whiskey, for furs, buffalo robes, buffalo beef, and horses; in which, both of these establishments appear to be doing a very extensive and lucrative business. The gentlemen of these forts are the first white persons, with whom the emigrants meet, after leaving the States, unless they chance to meet with companies of traders and trappers on their way to the States.
From these forts, to Fort Hall, a distance of about six hundred miles, the country through which the route lies, is, generally, very hilly and mountainous. The former part of this portion, includes that sections of country, denominated the Black hills, which present a very extraordinary appearance. When viewed from an elevated position, they present one interminous succession of treeless, shrubless, rolling swells and hills, which much resemble the rolling billows of a tempestuous ocean. Traveling over these hills, is attended with much inconvenience and fatigue; as it is but one continued scene of alternate ascension and decension , from morning until night, for several days in succession, and until we arrive at Independence rock, which, from its peculiarity and notoriety, requires a passing notice. It is situated near Sweet-water, about one hundred rods from the ordinary encampment, upon that stream. It is composed of solid granite, covering an area of about five acres, and rising in conical form, about four hundred feet, above the level of the surrounding country; it is seen at a great distance, and, hence, serves as a land mark, both for the mountaineer and the emigrant. Many portions of this extraordinary rock, present an extensive, perpendicular, smooth surface, upon which the various trappers and others, who have passed through that region, have inscribed their names, the numbers of their parties, and the date of their passing. The first party, which noticed this singular rock, in this manner, was a party of American trappers, who chanced to pass that way, upon the fourth day of July, when wishing to be Americans, even in that secluded region of aboriginal barbarism, they proceeded to celebrate that great day, which gave birth to human liberty. This they did, by a succession of mountain revelings, festivities, and hilarities, which having been concluded, they all inscribed their names together with the word "Independence," upon the most prominent, and conspicious portions of the rock; hence its name and notoriety which are as firmly, established, by that act, as that rock of ages itself. Independence rock, thus consecrated, is destined, in all coming time, to stand forth as an enduring monument to civil liberty, and American Independence! A greater part of the distance, from Independence rock to Green river, is comparatively, level, and affords a very eligible wagon way; but from that river to Fort Hall is the most broken and mountainous portion of the entire route. All this portion of the route, from Fort Larimie to Fort Hall, like that east of Fort Larimie, is, usually entirely destitute of timber, but as a general thing, sufficient is found for fuel. On this portion of the route, buffalo are very seldom found west of Green river, but they are very abundant, between that river, and Fort Larimie, especially upon Sweet-water, and in the vicinity of Independence rock; and they are, also, very numerous off the route, west of Green river, and even west of Fort Hall, both in Oregon and California. The only hostile Indians, with whom emigrants meet upon this portion of the route, are the Sioux, the Shyanes, and Eutaws, yet these are not called hostile, by mountaineers, of this, however, the reader, will be enabled to judge, for himself, from what has been said upon a former page. The Sioux, particularly, can, scarcely, be thought to be friendly, if we judge them by their acts; the making of myself and Mr. Lovejoy, prisoners of war, and the robbing of our hunters, whenever an opportunity presented , to say the least, were not very strong indications of friendship.
From Fort Hall to the Pacific, by the Oregon route, a distance of about eight hundred miles, there is but one continued succession of high mountains, stupendous cliffs, and deep, frightful caverns, with an occasional limited valley. There is much less difficulty, in obtaining wood for fuel, upon this portion of the route; yet there are many places below Fort Boisia, where wood, for fuel, can not be obtained, only as it is purchased of the Indians, who always take immediate possession of every stick which they find, either upon the shores, or floating down the streams. Although the Indians appear inclined to monopolize the entire wood trade, yet the course, which they pursue, is highly serviceable to the emigrants; for, if they were here left to their own resources entirely, they would be unabled to procure, either wood, or the excrement of the buffalo. From the dalles to the Pacific, there is ample timber, as much of the country is covered with dense forests. This portion of the Oregon route, from Fort Hall to the Pacific, has always been considered, wholly impassable for wagons, or any other vehicles; yet it is said, that the emigrants of 1843, succeeded in getting their wagons entirely down to the Wallammette settlement. This they may have done , but I am confident, from my own experience that each wagon must have cost the owner of it, more time and labor, than five wagons are worth, even in Oregon. By recent explorations, however, a very good, and much more direct wagon way, has been found, about one hundred miles, southward from the great southern pass, which, it will be observed, lies principally through the northern part of California. The California route, from Fort Hall to the Sacramento river, lies through alternate plains, prairies and valleys, and over hills, amid lofty mountains; thence down the great valley of the Sacramento, to the bay of St. Francisco, a distance from Fort Hall, of nine hundred miles. The Indians are, in many places, very numerous; yet they are extremely timid, and entirely inoffensive. Wagons can be as readily taken from Fort Hall to the bay of St. Francisco, as they can, from the States to Fort Hall; and, in fact, the latter part of the route, is found much more eligible for a wagon way, than the-former. The most direct route, for the California emigrants, would be to leave the Oregon route, about two hundred miles east from Fort Hall; thence bearing west southwest, to the Salt lake; and thence continuing down to the bay of St. Francisco, by the route just described. The emigrants, up to this time, however, have traveled together, as far as Fort Hill, because of this being the only settlement, in that vicinity, at which they are enabled to procure horses, and provisions. The soda springs, however, will, undoubtedly be found to be the point at which the routes will most advantageously diverge, both in reference to directness, and to the obtaining of supplies; for there is no doubt, but that a town, of very considerable importance, will spring up, at that point, in a very few years. The entire distance by this route, from Independence, either to Oregon or California, is about twenty-one hundred miles; and the usual time required in performing the journey, to either of those countries, will be found to be about one hundred and twenty days, exclusive of delays; yet the great disadvantages, under which parties have, heretofore, labored, have caused them to occupy much more time, than that above stated, in performing the journey. It is a surprising fact, that upon this entire route, from the States, either to Oregon or California, there is not a stream that emigrants cross, but that is fordable, at the season of the year, at which they pass through those regions. A much better way, is generally found, the entire extent of this route, than can be found, in any portion of our western States, the same distance, especially from the States to California, by the route just described.
The route, which I propose next briefly to notice, is that lying through the pass before described, which is situated, at latitude 34 deg. north. This route is that usually traveled, by the Santa Fe traders and Mexican emigrants, as well as emigrants from our southern States. Because of the very little importance of this route to our people, at present, it is not deemed proper to detain the reader, with a detailed description. Although this route is now deemed, rather unimportant to citizens of the United States, yet, if the time ever comes, when the intermediate country, shall belong to a civilized people, this route will become of the greatest importance, especially to the southern emigrants and travelers, who, traveling almost directly west, would save all the distance to Independence, the present place of rendezvous. Until that happy event, no further description need be given of this route; as, because of the inveterate suspicion and animosity, which the inhabitants of that region, now entertain, of all foreigners, it is almost impossible for them to pass through that country, with any degree of safety. Foreigners, in traveling by this route, are not only subject to the serious effects, arising from the suspicion and animosity of the Mexicans, but they are also, subject to the serious and dangerous consequences arising from their innate thievish and murderous propensities.
The route, by way of Vera Cruz, is among the most important routes to those countries, and hence, will require a more particular notice. The emigrant, who travels by this route, ships, at New Orleans, for Vera Cruz, where, if he sails from New Orleans, he arrives in seven or eight days; thence by stage, three days, to the city of Mexico; thence by stage, six days, to Guadalaxara; thence on horseback, five days, to Tepic; thence on horseback two days, to St. Blas; thence, by water, twelve days, to California, or twenty days to Oregon. By adding about the same time, as that above stated, for delays, we will have, very nearly, the time required, in performing the journey to Oregon or California, by this route, I which will be found to be, about one month and a half, to the former place, and about one month and six days, to the latter place. This is the route, by which I returned to the United States; but I was more than three months, in reaching the States, even from California; yet many of the usual delays, may be avoided. It is very expensive, traveling by this route, the entire expense being, about five hundred dollars. From Guadalaxara, the traveler is not only under the necessity of employing servants, and purchasing horses; but he is also under the necessity, of purchasing and taking with him, such provisions as he requires, as well as a traveling bed; for, without preliminary arrangements of this kind, he would, generally find himself without food, and always without a bed. The principal dangers, to which travelers are exposed, in passing through that country, are those of being robbed , and insulted or murdered, because of their non-conformity to the prevailing religious ceremonies, in which, all things else, appear to be wholly absorbed. Robberies are, most frequently, committed between the city of Mexico and Vera Cruz, which is owing to the opinion, which prevails among the people, that upon the arrival of foreigners into their country, they necessarily have money in their possession; and so upon their departure, the impression is, that they have collected their money, and other property; and hence, that is the most lucrative field for robbers, which, it undoubtedly would be, were it not for the extensive competition. About two thirds of all the robberies, committed upon this route, are committed between those two places. There is no method of guarding against these robbers; for you are not permitted to carry arms, or what is tantamount to the same thing, you are told by the Mexicans, that they will not travel in the stage, if arms are carried; the consequence of which is, that you are under the necessity, either of taking all of the seats in the stage yourself, or disposing of your arms, the latter of which courses you would be most likely to pursue. Having disposed of his arms, the traveler proceeds upon his dangerous journey, throwing himself upon the mercy, of a merciless bandit, of wreckless robbers, he perfectly reconciles himself to his fate, expects nothing else than to be robbed, and he is very seldom disappointed. The stage is seldom robbed, less frequently, than twice or thrice a week; and passengers are, very frequently, shot from the box, as they are riding with the driver, especially it they are foreigners. Several graves are seen, by the road side, in one day s travel, of foreigners, who have been thus shot from the box, or other wise killed, in their attempt, to resist the attack of the robbers, which, by the by, is a very dangerous undertaking, unless there are several foreigners together. These robbers, thus rob and kill, without regard to persons, or to personages, it seems, for our ministers do not escape their avaricious grasp. The only security, which travelers have against the ravages and outrages, of this community of thieves, is, to travel in numbers sufficient to insure their own protection; for which purpose, four or five foreigners, well armed, are amply sufficient.
An armed escort of about fifteen soldiers, is furnished by the government, ostensibly for the purpose of protecting travelers; yet this escort is always, composed of the most wreckless, and efficient robbers of the whole land. These soldiers always travel with the stage, on horseback, for which service they are not only paid by the government, but also by the passengers; yet their innate ungratefulness, treachery and cowardice, are fully displayed, upon the approach of the robbers, when they, at once, flee for their own security, and leave the passengers, to the mercy of a horde of inhuman banditti. Several instances of this kind, were related to me, by the drivers, who are generally Americans, and who, by the by, are jovial fellows. One of these drivers informed me, as an extraordinary instance of this kind, that in driving the stage from the city of Mexico to Vera Cruz, he was attacked by a band of robbers, who ordered him to dismount, and hold his horses, and at the same time, ordered the escort to secure a retreat, while it was practicable; both of which commands, were readily obeyed, when the robbers advanced with drawn guns, and swords, and ordered the passengers to prostrate themselves, one by one, upon the ground, with their feces downward, which, as they were unarmed, they, of course, readily did; when the robbers immediately proceeded, to break open their trunks, and valises, and to search their persons. Having done which, and having secured all the money, and other valuable property, of those who were fortunate enough to have either, and most cruelly, and inhumanly beating those, who had neither, they then ordered, their impoverished victims, to prepare for their departure, which they did, with very little delay. The brave escorts, observing this, now gallopped up, and demanded a portion of the spoils, a part of which, they said, they were entitled to, as they had given way, in order to enable the robbers, to accomplish their criminal purposes. But the robbers having the organs of acquisitiveness, and destructiveness, equally as fully developed as the brave escort, and having the possession, had greatly the advantage, in this contest for the spoils; being aware of which, they now ordered the government robbers, to desist in their contest for the spoils, and to avail themselves of a speedy flight; and thereby, save their lives, which they were assured, any further contest would greatly jeopardize. Knowing that there was much more "truth than poetry" in the above, the government robbers, now, immediately made good their retreat; and thus, the illegal succeeded, and triumphed over the legal robbers. There really appears to be a connivance, at these repeated, and wanton robberies, by a great majority of all the Mexican people; of which, I was fully convinced, by numerous instances, which were related to me, by several gentlemen, both foreigners and Mexicans, of Mexican gentlemen's, being stationed at the various public houses, whose duty it is, to keep the operatives in villainy and crime, duly advised, of all favorable opportunities, which may present for the accomplishment of their sinful purposes.
The greatest dangers, to which foreigners are exposed, in traveling by this route, are those of being insulted or murdered, for a non-observance of the interminable, and extremely annoying religious ceremonies, with which they are everywhere surrounded. At the ringing of a certain bell, or rather a volley of ringing, from scores of bells, which occurs about eleven o'clock, of each day, all things human, everywhere in view, as well as many things that do not appear to be exactly human, fall upon their knees, where they remain for a few minutes, uncovered, when they are permitted again to engage in their ordinary avocations. Upon the passing of a certain "black coach," which is called by the foreigners, in derision, the "gocart," which is said to contain the "Holy Ghost," all persons, whether male or female, black or white, brown or yellow, prostrate themselves in a proper attitude of man worship, and thus remain upon their knees, whether in the mud, or on the pavement, until the sacerdotal corps, shall have passed away; when they retire to their respective places of abode, business, amusement or lounging, amid the most confused and tremendous thunderings, of hundreds of bells, which are now tossed and thrown with unusual energy. The black vehicle, above alluded to, instead of containing the "Holy Ghost" as said, contains nothing more nor less, than one of those superhuman dignitaries in black, who is said to be on his way, to the residence of some person, who is very ill, with the view, of administering to him, the last propitiatory, clerical aid. Because of the non-conformity of the foreigners, to these unmeaning, superstitious ceremonies, of this priest ridden people, they are very frequently publicly and grossly insulted, knocked down in the streets, and even killed. Numerous instances of foreigners having been slain, for the above reason have, frequently, occurred in the different portions of that country, and, even, in the city of Mexico. A short time since, a countryman of ours, was inhumanly, butchered in the city of Mexico, although he was kneeling, in conformity to the, above superstitious practice. Being a shoe-maker, he was in his shop, engaged at his business, when, he was informed by a Mexican. that the "Holy Ghost" was passing, and understanding, that, he was desired to do reverence to the "man in black," he arose, and knelt upon his seat; but he was informed, by the Mexican, that he must come entirely out of his room, and kneel in the street. As he did not, immediately, comply with this request, but remained kneeling in his room, the Mexican rushed upon him , stabbed him to the heart, and laid him at his feet, a lifeless corpse, an unoffending victim of barbarous superstition, and tyrannical priestcraft. The foreigners, being much exasperated, at this atrocious act of barbarous inhumanity, held a public meeting in reference to it but being interrupted by the rabble, they were soon compelled to disperse, not, however, until they had made arrangements for the interment of the body, which they, immediately, proceeded to do; but as they were moving in solemn procession to the grave, they were assailed by a mob, with clubs, brick bats, and all manner of deadly missels. So furious was the assault upon them, that they were under the necessity, of leaving the corpse in the street, and applying to the civil authorities for protection. A few soldiers were now sent to their aid, when they again moved on to the grave, where, as they were in the act of performing the ordinary religious rites, they were again assailed, and driven from their purpose; but finally, the mob was partially dispersed, when. availing themselves of the favorableness of the moment, they, in great haste and confusion, consummated the interment and immediately retired, in order to secure their own personal safety. These are a few among the many dangers, to which foreigners are exposed, in traveling by this route, as well as a few, among the numerous instances, that might be given, of the enormous evils and oppressions, which necessarily arise, from unrestrained priestcraft and religious intolerance.
The route by sea, is the well known route around Cape Horn, by which there is, latterly, very extensive travel to those countries, bordering upon the Pacific ocean. Opportunities are, annually, presented of obtaining passage, by this route, either from Boston or New York, to Oregon, California, or the Sandwich Islands; and passage is readily obtained, from either of the latter places, to the other, twice or thrice, annually. Those wishing to return, from either Oregon or California, to the States, find very frequent opportunities, as vessels sail, frequently, each season from both those countries, to the Sandwich Islands, from which place, passage can be obtained, at almost any time, to Boston or New York, and as vessels sail regularly, every autumn from Oregon to California, and from California to the States. The latter opportunity, can be the more certainly relied upon, as the arrangements of the merchant vessels are such, that several of them arrive and depart annually. Leaving Boston or New York, in the month of August or September, they arrive in California, in the month of December or January; and on their return to the States, they leave California, in the month of November or December, and arrive at Boston or New-York, in February or March. The usual time required, by this route, is about one hundred and twenty days; and the expense is about three hundred dollars, exclusive of all expenses, previous to departure. The doubling of Cape Horn, was, formerly considered a very hazardous undertaking; latterly, however, it is not so considered, by experienced navigators. The greatest objections, which can be urged against traveling by this route, are the unpleasant, cheerless monotony, and the irksome confinement, incident to this method of traveling. Now, having taken this cursory view of the different routes, perhaps it would not be uninteresting to the reader, to briefly examine, the comparative advantages, and disadvantages of each, in reference to safety, time and expense. Upon a full review of this subject, we shall find that the route lying through the southern pass, near latitude 42? north has a decided preference, in all the above particulars. It will be observed, that traveling by this route, is much less hazardous, that but about the same time is required as in traveling by the route by sea, and very little more than is required, in traveling by the route, by the way of Vera Cruz and the city of Mexico; and that the expense is much less, by this route, than by either of the others, must be very evident. As nothing is required upon this route, but such teams and provisions, as the farmer must necessarily have at, home, it may be truly said, that it costs him nothing but his time; for he can expend no money, as he travels entirely among tribes of barbarous Indians, who know nothing of money or its value.
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