"Return from the Valley," Frontier Guardian, 21 Mar. 1851, 1.
- Related Companies
- Company Unknown (1851)
KANESVILLE, Feb. 2d. 1851.
Our little Company again started for the States on the last day of September, with an addition to our number of twelve men. The weather was very fine, pleasant and warm in the valleys, in fact, nice summer weather; but on the second night we experienced a severe rain storm, and as we raised higher in the country the weather became more cool, especially at night. On the ridge of the mountains west of Bear River, we met the last of the emigrating companies-this was Edward Hunter's. We passed on enjoying remarkable fine weather for the country and season.
We met with an unpleasant snow storm near the South Pass, and another gale of snow at the Upper Crossing of the Platte. Here we determined to keep the north side of the Platte the entire way down, and if possible, look out a feasible route for emigrants.
We found abundant timber for fuel. and grass far more plenty than it is through the Black Hills-the roads far evener and a saving in distance of near twenty miles to Laramie. There was a plenty of game consisting of Buffalo, Elk, Deer, Antelope, &c., all the way on this new route; Antelope had also been very plenty nearly all the way.
By taking this route of keeping the north side the entire route will save at least an expensive ferriage of the Platte at the Upper Crossing; from five to ten dollars is usually charged each team. From Laramie down we continued on the north side, finding that the bottoms were much wider; consequently producing a much larger amount of feed, it is also higher and less subject to swamps and low ground, than on the other. There is also a far greater amount of fuel and a larger number of small pure streams from the mountains or Bluffs, to be found on the North, than on the South side.
The Buffalo are abundant all the way to Fort Kearny. Before leaving the country of game we laid in a stock of Jerked Buffalo meat and tallow, this is prepared by slicing and drying in the sun, and also obtained flour at For Kearney.
These Forts, (Kearney and Laramie,) are established by government for the protection and preservation of emigrants. Flour, Bacon, and other necessaries are kept on hand for the relief of the needy and unfortunate, Those who have means to pay for the same are charged the cost and transportation of the articles, but should a person be destitute of the means of pay, he is furnished a sufficient amount of rations to carry him to the Frontiers or to a country where grain can be obtained in the direction he is going, this is a wise provision by government as many an unfortunate traveler is saved from perishing with cold, hunger, or fatigue; and could the line of posts be continued, and placed every twenty-five or fifty miles on the entire route by government, or some private companies, the investment would yield rich per cent, even for stores, necessaries and provisions; and then to this, add the Indian trade, with the raising of grain, which in many places can be produced, I would consider in might be an inducement.
We found our road on the North side to be an almost uninterrupted plain, a few sand hills occur, but not so frequently as on the other side. Most of the way the road is as even and nice as a Macadamized turnpike. There is very little or now Prickly Pear, or Sage east of Laramie, although both are found in abundance further west, nearly the whole way, and in many places the sage is the only fuel that can be obtained.
We were not disturbed in any hostile manner by the Indians the whole way, but the way they cleared our kettles and boxes of grub were a caution to small game; appear all the while very friendly, they stole all the small articles they could conceal, which they could not beg. Emigrants should be friendly to them, yet keep them decidedly at a reasonable distance from their small wares; I believe the Pawnees to be the most troublesome in this respect. As usual the nation had evacuated some very decent towns, and were passing up among the buffalo on their winter hunt. From the appearance of their fields, I should Judge they had raised a considerable amount of corn, but would sell us none. At Kearney we learned with some regret that a company of near twenty persons had been still further up to meet us on our return, with grain, provisions and comforts from home, but from our long delay they had a short time before returned homeward.
We arrived in Kanesville on the 18th of November, all in good health after being out fifty days on our return, and being absent from home four months and a half, and a land travel of about twenty-five hundred miles, including travel in the Valley.
And now a word to emigrants. By notes carefully taken and compared I find the distance about one hundred miles further on the South than on the North side.
Secondly-There is a much greater supply of timber, and feed for stock, on the North.
Thirdly-The wild game is more abundant and also there are many small pure streams emptying into the Platte on the north, while there is scarcely one on the south.
Fourthly-And most important. All the graves we saw or heard of being made on the north side was four. Whilst on the south it was one almost continual burying ground. There hundreds and hundreds of graves strew the plains. About one third of the emigration last season went on the North side, and they got through in much better time, that those on the other side.
Our company having taken much pains to ascertain every fact in connection with the two routes, decided unanimously in favor of emigrating on the North side.
In the course of our trip we saw many interesting scenes, and curiosities, and felt well repaid for our toil and exspenses; as any person would readily admit after taking such a trip.
We were hospitally received in the Valley, and received while we staid there, every bounty, attention and comfort the people could bestow. Long live in prosperity the kind of people of Utah.
One Idea and I have done. Let every emigrant obtain a printed guide; they are really indispensable to show you where you will obtain feed, water, wood, &c., Clayton's is the best I have yet seen. You will learn the propriety of this caution, after once traveling the road.
I am your obedient Servt.
JOSEPH E. JOHNSON