"Emigrants' Guide to Salt Lake and California," Frontier Guardian, 7 Feb. 1851, 2.
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Mr. Clayton, the original publisher of this Guide, is justly entitled to much credit and great praise for his diligence, care, perseverance and untiring industry in measuring the distances from point to point on this route, in describing the country, in pointing out the streams and springs of water, showing the distances in English miles, from one camp ground to another, so that the traveler may always know, when he starts in the morning, how far he has to go before he finds another suitable stopping place. His statements are to be relied on, as thousands of emigrants can testify. We heard a returning emigrant declare, but a short time since, that every person, crossing the Plains, and who was fortunate enough to obtain Clayton's Guide ought to make him a handsome present when he arrives at the Salt Lake City. This declaration met our approval so cordially that we could not withhold our most favorable response. He published a large edition at first; but other men speculated upon them, and he, a poor man, is left unrewarded for his toil.
This Guide takes the emigrant by the hand at Kanesville, Iowa, and safely conducts him over the Missouri River, and gently leads him out westward on the North Side of the Great Platte river,--that route being decidedly the best, shortest and most healthy. We speak from personal knowledge and experience, having traveled both routes last season. Fuel, grass, and water, are the three staples that constitute the emigrant's inn while crossing the plains. These he will find more plentiful and convenient along the route North of the Platte, than he will on the route South of that river.
This route intersects, at Fort Laramie, all others leaving this Western Frontier; and they continue together to the "Pacific Springs," and a little beyond, being a distance of about three hundred miles. All the Alkali or poisonous springs, marches, ponds, or Lakes on the entire routes, may be found within these three hundred miles, and they are so accurately describe and pointed out that no person need be mistaken. Every emigrant, therefore, ought to have this Guide, let him start from whatever point he may on the frontier; for by its aid, he can prevent his teams and stock from drinking of those waters that prove almost certain death to them, if they are suffered to drink.
It is satisfactorily ascertained that there is a safe and practicable route on the North of the Platte from Laramie Westward; and those who start on the North Side, may continue on, and not cross at Laramie at all, and thus save twice ferrying that stream at a cost of from five to eight dollars a wagon. We have traveled this route the entire distance from the Sweet Water, with the exception of about fifteen miles in the immediate vicinity of Laramie, and found the road far better than on the South side on every account. The Black Hills are avoided, and also much gravel, flint-rock and pebbles, so ruinous to cattles' feet. There were two or three trains that took this route last year, and they pronounced it a good route, with the exception of about five miles through a Bluff Kanyon [Canyon] North, or North-West of Laramie about 12 miles; and even these five miles, they do not consider so bad as many miles on the other route. A little labor will make it quite passable. The outlines of this route will be given in the next paper.
In some places where Mr. Clayton represents plenty of grass, there is little or none at all. Emigrants have all rushed to these places, and their stock have eaten, tramped, and killed it out; though [illegible] at the time he made the statements: Yet there is generally plenty of grass a little off the road on the hills, or on the high bench land. This applies to the route west of Laramie: East of that Fort, there is plenty of grass on both sides of the Platte.
As to sandy roads, they are just about the same on both routes--the streams and water courses are also about equal. Though the extreme Northern route has the following advantages over any other. It is about one hundred miles nearer--it affords more grass and timber; and water is more convenient and oftener found. There are fewer hills, rocks, stones and pebbles in the road, and while hundreds upon hundreds died of cholera on the Southern routes,--of all the thousands that traveled up this north route last year, only three persons died. One accidentally killed, one drowned, and one died of cholera.
Kanesville, then, is the safe and sure starting point for Salt Lake, California and Oregon Emigrants; keeping on the north side of the Platte, the entire distance. Claytons' Guide for sale at this office.