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Title: In the Oregon Country
       Out-Doors in Oregon, Washington, and California Together
              with some Legendary Lore, and Glimpses of the Modern West
              in the Making

Author: George Palmer Putnam

Release Date: April 28, 2010 [EBook #32164]

Language: English

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By George Palmer Putnam

The Southland of North America

[Pg i]

(See Announcement at Back of this Volume)

The Columbia River Valley and Mount Adams
The Columbia River Valley and Mount Adams
Copyright, Gifford, Portland, Ore.

[Pg ii]

In the
Oregon Country

Out-Doors in Oregon, Washington, and California
Together with some Legendary Lore, and
Glimpses of the Modern West in
The Making

By

George Palmer Putnam

Author of "The Southland of North America" etc.

With an Introduction by

James Withycombe

Governor of Oregon

With 52 Illustrations

G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
1915
[Pg iii] Copyright, 1915
BY
GEORGE PALMER PUTNAM

The Knickerbocker Press, New York
[Pg iv]


Dedicated to
THE EMBLEM CLUB

[Pg v]


INTRODUCTION

HEN one has lived in Oregon for forty-three years, and when one's enthusiasm for his home increases year after year, naturally all that is said of that home is of the most vital interest. Especially is it acceptable if it is the outgrowth of a similar enthusiasm, and if it is well said.

For a considerable span of time I have been reading what others have written about the Pacific Coast. In the general western literature, it has seemed to me, Oregon has never received its merited share of consideration. Just now, with the Expositions in California attracting a worldwide interest westward, and with the Panama Canal giving our development a new impetus, it is especially appropriate that Oregon receive added literary attention. And it is reasonable to suppose that the stranger within our gates will find interest in such literature, provided it be of the right sort, just as Oregonians must welcome a sound addition[Pg vi] to the State's bibliography, written by an Oregonian.

So, because I like the spirit of the following pages, admire the method of their presentation, and deeply desire to promote the success of all that will tend toward a larger appreciation of Oregon's possibilities, I recommend this book to the consideration of dwellers on the Pacific Coast, and those who desire to form acquaintance with the land it concerns.

Governor of Oregon.

Salem, Oregon,
January 20th, 1915. [Pg vii]


PREFACE

FTEN enough a preface is an outgrowth of disguised pretentiousness or insincere humility. Presumably it is an apology for the authorship, or at least an explanation of the purpose of the pages it introduces.

But no one is compelled to write a book; and, in truth, publishers habitually exert a contrary influence. It is a fair supposition, therefore, when a book is produced, that the author has some good reason for his act, whether or not the book itself proves to be of service.

Among many plausible apologies for authorship, the most reasonable is, it seems to me, a genuine enthusiasm for the subject at hand. If one loves that with which the book has to do the desire to share the possession with readers approaches altruism. In this case let us hope that the enthusiasm, which is real, and the virtue, which is implied, will sufficiently cloak the many faults of these little sketches, whose mission it is[Pg viii] to convey something of the spirit of the out-of-door land they picture—a land loved by those who know it, and a land of limitless welcome for the stranger who will knock at its gates.

The Oregon Country, with which these chapters are chiefly concerned, has been the goal of expeditioning for a century and a quarter. First came Captain Robert Gray in 1792, by sea. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, twelve years later, tracked 'cross country from the Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia. In 1810, the Astor expedition, under Wilson and Hunt, succeeded, after hardships that materially reduced the party, in making its way from St. Louis to the Columbia and down the river to the mouth, where was founded the town of Astoria. Finally, after a half-century of horse-and-wagon pioneering, the first railroads spanned the continent in 1869. But the Union Pacific and Central Pacific were more the concern of California than of Oregon, for the Northwest had no iron trail to link it with the parent East until in 1883 the Northern Pacific Railway, under the leadership of Henry Villard, reached Portland.

So Oregon was discovered by sea and land, and[Pg ix] finally, as highways of steel replaced the dusty trails of the emigrants, she has come into her own. From within and without she has builded, and what she has done for her sons, and offers to her settlers, has established a place for her in the respectful attention of the world.

Now, in the year nineteen hundred and fifteen, a new era is dawning for Oregon and for all our Western Coast, through fresh enterprise, this time again by sea. The waters of the Atlantic and Pacific have been joined at Panama, our continental coast line, to all intents and purposes, being made continuous, and the two Portlands, of Oregon and Maine, become maritime neighbors. Our East and our West have clasped hands again at the Isthmus, and comparative strangers as they are, there is need for an introduction when they meet.

Not strangers, perhaps; better brothers long separated, each unfamiliar with the attainments and the developed character of the other. The younger brother, the Westerner, has from the very nature of things changed most. His growth, in body, mind, and experience, is at times difficult for the Easterner to fathom. A generation ago,[Pg x] he was such an immature fellow, so lacking in poise, in accomplishments, and even in certain of those characteristics which comprise what the East chooses to consider civilization; and his country, compared with what it is to-day, was so crudely developed.

The Easterner this year is the one who is coming to his brother of the West, because of the Canal, the Expositions celebrating its completion, and an immediate inclination to "see America first" impressed upon our public for the most part by the present war-madness of Europe.

It would be rank presumption for any one person to pretend to speak a word of explanation to that visitor on behalf of the Coast. As a fact, no explanation is required; the States of the Pacific are their own explanation, and their people must be known by their works. Secondly, the Coast is such a vast territory that what might be a reasonably intelligent introduction to one portion of it would be utterly inapplicable elsewhere.

So this little book does not undertake to present a comprehensive account of our westernmost States, or even of the Oregon Country. It is intended simply to suggest a few of the many[Pg xi] attractions which may be encountered here and there along the Pacific, the references to which are woven together with threads of personal reminiscence pertaining to characteristic phases of the western life of to-day. For the stranger it may possess some measure of information; it should at least induce him to tarry in the region sufficiently long to secure an impression of the byways as well as of the highways. For the man to whom Oregon, California, or Washington stands for home, these pages may contain an echo of interest—for we are apt to enjoy most sympathetic accounts of the things we love best. But for visitor or resident, or one who reads of a country he may not see, the chief mission of these chapters is to chronicle something of their author's enthusiasm for the land they concern, to hint of the pleasurable possibilities of its out-of-doors, and, mayhap, to offer a glimpse of the new West of to-day in the preparation for its greater to-morrow.

G. P. P.

Bend, Oregon,
December 25, 1914. [Pg xii]
[Pg xiii]


ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Some of the material in this book has been printed in substantially the same form in Recreation whose Editor has kindly sanctioned its further utilization here.

For the use of many photographs I am indebted to the courtesy of officials of the Oregon-Washington, and Spokane, Portland and Seattle railways.

G. P. P.[Pg xiv]
[Pg xv]


CONTENTS

      CHAPTERPAGE
I.—"OUT WEST"1
II.—THE VALLEY OF CONTENT9
III.—THE LAND OF LEGENDS19
IV.—THE LAND OF MANY LEAGUES37
V.—HOW THE RAILROADS CAME54
VI.—THE HOME MAKERS64
VII.—ON OREGON TRAILS76
VIII.—UNCLE SAM'S FORESTS90
IX.—A CANOE ON THE DESCHUTES105
X.—OLYMPUS116
XI.—"THE GOD MOUNTAIN OF PUGET SOUND"130
XII.—A SUMMER IN THE SIERRAS153

[Pg xvi]
[Pg xvii]


ILLUSTRATIONS

 PAGE
The Columbia River Valley and Mount AdamsFrontispiece
Copyright, Gifford, Portland, Ore.
"The Man from Boisé Describes God's Country in Terms of Sagebrush and Brown Plains"2
"The Palouse Dweller Pictures Wheat Fields." The Grain Country of Eastern Washington2
From a photograph by Frank Palmer, Spokane, Wash.
A Western Mountaineering Club on the Hike6
From a photograph by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Along the Willamette12
Mount Shasta12
From a photograph by Weister Co., Portland, Ore.
Mount Hood from Lost Lake20
Copyrighted photo by W. A. Raymond, Moro, Ore.
Natives Spearing Salmon on the Columbia22
[Pg xviii]Copyright 1901 by Benj. A. Gifford, The Dalles, Ore.
Coasting on Mount Hood22
From a photograph by Weister Co., Portland, Ore.
The Pacific24
Copyright 1910 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Along the Columbia. "Grotesque Rocks Rise Sheer from the River's Edge"24
Copyright 1910 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Celilo Falls on the Columbia28
Copyright 1902 by Benj. A. Gifford, The Dalles, Ore.
The North Abutment of the Bridge of the Gods28
Copyright 1902 by Benj. A. Gifford, The Dalles, Ore.
Where the Oregon Trunk Railway Crosses the Columbia. "The River Rolls Between Banks of Barrenness"30
Copyright 1912 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Columbia River. The Land of Indian Legends30
Copyright 1909 by Benj. A. Gifford, The Dalles, Ore.
The Dalles of the Columbia32
From a photograph by Weister Co., Portland, Ore.
Along the Columbia River. "A Region of Surpassing Scenery"34
Copyright 1912 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Central Oregon Travel in the Old Days[Pg xix]38
A Central Oregon Freighter. "You will Find them everywhere in the Railless Land, the Freighters and their Teams"38
In the Dry-Farm Lands of Central Oregon. "Serried by Valleys, where the Gold of Sun and Grain, and Vagrant Cloud Shadows, Made Gorgeous Picturings"42
Crooked River Canyon, now Spanned by a Railroad Bridge56
In the Deschutes Canyon. "The River Winds Sinuously, Seeking First One, and then Another, Point of the Compass"56
Copyright 1911 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Along the Canyon of the Deschutes62
Copyright 1911 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Irrigation--"First, Parched Lands of Sage; then the Flow"68
Series Copyright 1909 by Asahel Curtis.
Irrigation--"Next, Water in a Master Ditch and Countless Man-made Rivulets between the Furrows"68
"It Was a very Typical Stagecoach"70
In the Homestead Country70
A Valley of Washington. "The Big Westland Smiles and Receives them All"74
From a photograph by Frank Palmer, Spokane, Wash.
A Trailside Dip in a Mountain Lake[Pg xx]78
"Sliding down Snow-Fields Is Fun, though Chilly"78
On the Trail in the Highlands of the Cascades80
"A Sky Blue Lake Set like a Sapphire in an Emerald Mount"80
The Trails Are not all Dry-Shod84
"Our Trail Wound Beneath a Fairy Forest"84
An Oregon Trail86
From a Photograph by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
"Packing Up" at a Deserted Ranger Station96
Using the Forest Fire Telephone at a Ranger Station96
An Oregon Trout Stream100
From a Photograph by Raymond, Moro, Ore.
Canoeing and Duck Shooting may be Combined on the Deschutes108
On a Backwater of the Deschutes108
Along the Deschutes, the "River of Falls." "It Roars and Rushes, in White-Watered Cascades"112
Copyright 1911 By Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
"Canoeing is the most Satisfactory Method of Travel Extant"[Pg xxi]118
The Pack Train above Timber Line118
From a photo by Belmore Browne
"The Humes Glacier, over which we Went to Mount Olympus"128
"Our Nature-made Camp in Elwha Basin"128
The "God Mountain" of Puget Sound132
Copyright 1910 by L. G. Linkletter
"The Live Oaks of Berkeley's Campus"156
From a photograph by Wells Drury, Berkeley, Cal.
Looking across the Clouds to Mount Adams from the Flanks of Rainier156
Copyright 1909 by L. G. Linkletter
"We Gloried in the Sheer Mightiness of El Capitan"158
"A Vast Flower Garden Maintained Enticingly by Dame Nature"160
Copyright 1912 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Light and Shadow in Yosemite160
Sunrise at Hetch-Hetchy164
The Government Road that Leads to Mount Rainier164



In the Oregon Country


[Pg 1]

CHAPTER I

"Out West"

HAT is the most pronounced difference between East and West?" A Bostonian once asked me that. I was East after a year or two of westerning, and he seemed to think it would be easy enough to answer off-hand. But for the life of me I could find no fit reply. For a time that is—and then it struck me.

"Everyone is proud of everything out West," said I. "Local patriotism is a religion—if you know what I mean."

You who have lived on the Pacific Slope will understand. You who have visited the Pacific Slope will half-understand. Did you ever hear of a New Jersey man fighting because his town was[Pg 2] maligned? You never did! Have you yet encountered a York State small-town dweller who would devote hours to proving that his community was destined to outdistance all its neighbors because God had been especially good to it—and ready to back his boast to the limit? No indeed! Yet most of us have seen Westerners actually come to blows protecting the fair name of their chosen town, and I know scores of them who can, and will, on the slightest provocation, demonstrate that their particular Prosperity Center is the coming city of destiny.

"The Palouse dweller pictures wheat fields." The grain
country of eastern Washington "The Palouse dweller pictures wheat fields." The grain country of eastern Washington
From a photograph by Frank Palmer, Spokane, Wash.
"The man from Boisé describes God's country in terms of
sagebrush and brown plains" "The man from Boisé describes God's country in terms of sagebrush and brown plains"

[Pg 3]In short every Westerner is inordinately proud of his town and his country. On trains you hear it, in hotel lobbies, on street corners. The stranger seated at your side in the smoking compartment regales you with descriptions of his particular "God's Country." If ever there was an overworked phrase west of the Missouri, it is that, and the inventor of a fitting synonym should reap royal rewards, in travelers' gratitude if nothing else. The man from Boisé describes "God's Country" in terms of sagebrush and brown plains; the Palouse dweller pictures wheat fields, mentioning not wind storms and feverish summer[Pg 4] mercury; the Californian sees his poppy-golden hills; the eyes of the Puget Sound dweller are bright with memories of majestic timber and broad waterways, unclouded by any mention of gray rain; the man from Bend talks of rushing rivers and copper-hued pines, his enthusiasm for the homeland unalloyed by reference to summer dusts; the orchard owner of Hood River or Wen-atchee has his heaven lined with ruddy apples, and discourses amazing figures concerning ever-increasing world market for the product of his acres; he who hails from the Coast cities, whose all-pervading passion is optimism, weaves convincing prophecies of the golden future. And so it goes. Each for his own, each an enthusiast, a loyal patriot, a rabid disciple. Eastern travel acquaintances produce the latest photograph of their youngest offspring, but the Westerner brings forth views and plats of his home town; no children of his own flesh are more beloved.

Yes, truly, it is a bore. The thing is overdone. There is too much of it. And yet—well, it is the very spirit of the West, a natural expression of the pride of creation, for these men of to-day are creating homes and towns, and doing it under fiercely competitive conditions. They have builded upon their judgment and staked their all upon the throw of fortune. They are pleased with their accomplishments and vastly determined to bend the future to their ends. It is arrogance, no doubt, but healthy and happy, and the very essence of youthful accomplishment. And its very insistency and sincerity spell success, and are invigorating to boot.

The old differences between East and West are no more, of course. Except for a trifle more informality under the setting sun, clothes and their wearing are the same. The Queen's English is butchered no more distressingly in California than in Connecticut. Proportionately to resources, educational opportunities are identical. Music and the arts are no longer strangers where blow Pacific breezes, nor have they been for decades. The West is wild and woolly no more, railroads have replaced stagecoaches, fences bisect the ranges, free land is almost a thing of the past. Yet, withal, existence for the peoples of the two borders of our continent is not cast in an identical mold.[Pg 5]

"Back East" residents are apt to regard the West as a land of curiosities, human and natural. "Out West" dwellers are inclined to be supercilious when they mention the ways of the Atlantic seaboard.

All statements to the contrary notwithstanding, East is East, and West is West, no matter how fluently they mingle. The difference between them is not to be defined by conversational metes and bounds. It is not merely of miles, of scenery, or of manners, or even of enthusiasm. It is, in fact, quite intangible, and yet it exists, as anyone who has dwelt upon both sides of our continent realizes. Aside from the trivialities—which are wrapt up in such words as "culture," "custom," "precedent," and the like—the fundamental, explanatory reason for the intangible differences is one of years. Most of the West is buoyantly youthful, some of it blatantly boyish. Much of the East is in the prime of middle age, some of it senile. Naturally the East is inclined to conservative pessimism—an attribute of advancing years—and the West to impulsive optimism.

Do not foster the notion that the term "extreme"[Pg 6] West really applies, for it doesn't. The West, as I have seen it, is too nervous, socially speaking, to dare extremes. It is too inexperienced to essay experiments, too desirous of doing the correct thing. While it wouldn't for the world admit the fact, socially it is quite content to keep its intelligent eyes on the examples set back East, and even then its replica of what it sees is apt to be a modified one.

A Western mountaineering club on the hike
A Western mountaineering club on the hike
From a photograph by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.

If this bashfulness holds good socially, it emphatically does not commercially. For in things economic there is far more dash and daring, and bigness of conception and rapidity of realization in Western business affairs than in those of the East. Opportunity is knocking on every hand, and those who think and act most quickly become her lucky hosts. The countries of the West are upbuilding with a rapidity for the most part inconceivable to Europe-traveled Easterners, and affairs move at a lively pace, so that the laggards are left behind and only the able-bodied can keep abreast of the progress. And with all the dangers of the happy-go-lucky methods, the pitfalls of the inherent gambling that lies beneath the surface of much of it, Western business life undoubtedly[Pg 7] offers the favored field for the young man of to-day who has, in addition to the normal commercial attributes, the ability to keep his head.

Greeley's advice was never sounder than to-day; revised, it should read: "Come West, young man, and help the country grow."

The start has just been made. Perhaps the days of strident booms are over (let us trust so), and it may be that the bonanza opportunities are for the most part buried in the past, together with the first advent of the railroads, the discoveries of gold, and the exploitation of agriculture, which gave them birth. But the West is getting her second wind. The greater development is yet to come; the Panama Canal, with quickened immigration, manufacturing, and a more thorough-going cultivation of resources than ever in the past, spell that. What has gone before is trivial and inconsequential in comparison with what is to come. Pioneering is along different lines than in the old days, but it still is pioneering, and the call of it is as insistent for ears properly tuned.[Pg 8]

I hear the tread of pioneers
Of cities yet to be,
The first low wash of waves where soon
Will roll a human sea.

The waves have wet the shores, but their true advance has scarce begun.[Pg 9]


CHAPTER II

The Valley of Content

REGON—the old Oregon Territory of yesterday and the State of to-day—is our very own. It was neither bought, borrowed, nor stolen from another nation. It is of the United States because our fathers came here first, carved out homes from the wilderness, and unfurled their flag overhead; through the most fundamental of rights—that of discovery, coupled with possession and development.

The New England States we inherited from Britain, although the will was sorely contested. For Louisiana we paid a price. Texas and California we annexed from Mexico, and purchased New Mexico and Arizona. Alaska was bought from Russia for a song. Alone of all the United States the old Oregon Territory became ours by normal acquisition.

Thence, perhaps, is the compelling attraction[Pg 10] for the native-born of Oregon to-day. Mayhap a touch of historic romance clings about the country; or it may be simply the feeling of bigness, the broad expansiveness of the views, the mightiness of mountains, the splendor of the trees, and the air's crisp vitality that make Oregon life so worth while.

Whatever the explanation, it is assuredly a pleasant place in which to live, this land of Oregon, and the transplanted Easterner cannot but be conscious of its attractions, just as he is of the myriad delights of the entire Coast country. A land of delight it is, from Puget Sound to the riviera of California, from the snow mountains to the sagebrush plains, where rose the dust of immigrants' "prairie schooners" not so many years ago.

The guardian of Oregon's southern gateway is Shasta, and close beside its gleaming flanks rolls the modern trail of steel whereon the wayfarer from San Francisco passes over the Siskiyous into the valleys of the Rogue and the Umpqua.

Shasta displays its attractions surpassingly well. An appreciative nature placed this great white[Pg 11] gem in a wondrously appropriate setting of broken foothills and timbered reaches that billow upward to the snow line from the south and west, with never a petty rival to break the calm dominance of the master peak, and nothing to mar the symmetry of the cool green woodlands. For Shasta stands alone, and from its isolation is doubly impressive. One sees it all at once, as the train clambers up the grades towards Oregon, not a mere peak among many of a range, but an individual cone, neighborless and inspiring. Shasta has a volcanic history, and but a few hundred years ago bestirred itself titanically, casting forth balls of molten lava which to-day are encountered for scores of miles roundabout, weird testimonials to the latent strength now seemingly so reposeful beneath the calm crust of the earth.

Up and still up, into the timbered mountains, you are borne, until the very heart of the tousled Siskiyous is about you. Then all at once the divide lies behind and with one locomotive instead of several the train swings downward and northward into Oregon, winding interminably, and twisting and looping along hillsides and about the heads of little streams, which grow into goodly[Pg 12] rivers as you follow them. Slowly the serried mountains iron out into gentler slopes dimpled with meadows, and here and there are homes and cultivated fields, and steepish roads of many ruts. Then the rushing Rogue River is companion for a space, and orchards and towns dot the wayside. More rough country follows, the Rogue and the Umpqua are left behind in turn, and the rails bear you to the regions of the Willamette.

Along the Willamette Along the Willamette
Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta
From a photograph by Weister Co., Portland, Ore.

A broad valley, rich, prosperous, and beautiful to look upon, is the Willamette, and a valley of many moods. Neither in scenic charms nor agricultural resourcefulness is its heritage restricted to a single field. There are timberland and trout stream, hill and dale, valley and mountain; rural beauty of calm Suffolk is neighbor to the ragged picturesqueness of Scotland; there are skylines comparable with Norway's, and lowlands peaceful as Sweden's pastoral vistas; the giant timber, or their relic stumps, at some pasture edge, spell wilderness, while a happy, alder-lined brook flowing through a bowlder-dotted field is reminiscent of the uplands of Connecticut. Altogether, it is a rarely variegated viewland, is this vale of the Willamette.

[Pg 13]

You have seen valleys which were vast wheat fields, or where orchards were everywhere; in California and abroad you have viewed valleys dedicated to vineyards, and from mountain vantage points you have feasted your eyes upon the greenery of timberland expanses; all the world over you can spy out valleys dotted with an unvaried checkerboard of gardens, or green with pasture lands. But where have you seen a valley where all of this is mingled, where nature refuses to be a specialist and man appears a Jack of all outdoor trades? If by chance you have journeyed from Medford to Portland, with some excursioning from the beaten paths through Oregon's valley of content, you have viewed such a one.

For nature has staged a lavish repertoire along the Willamette. There are fields of grain and fields of potatoes; hop yards and vineyards stand side by side; emerald pastures border brown cornfields; forests of primeval timber shadow market garden patches; natty orchards of apples, peaches, and plums are neighbors to waving expanses of beet tops. In short, as you whirl through the valley, conjure up some antithesis of vegetation[Pg 14] and you must wait but a scanty mile or two before viewing it from the observation car.

As first I journeyed through this pleasant land of the Willamette, a little book, written just half a century ago, fell into my hands, and these words concerning the valley, read then, offered a description whose peer I have not yet encountered:

The sweet Arcadian valley of the Willamette, charming with meadow, park, and grove! In no older world where men have, in all their happiest moods, recreated themselves for generations in taming earth to orderly beauty, have they achieved a fairer garden than Nature's simple labor of love has made there, giving to rough pioneers the blessings and the possible education of refined and finished landscape, in the presence of landscape strong, savage, and majestic.

Then Portland. Portland, the city of roses and the metropolitan heart of Oregon, stands close to where the Willamette, the river of our valley of content, meanders into the greater Columbia. Were this a guidebook I might inundate you with figures of population, bank clearings, and land values, all of them risen and still rising in bounds almost beyond belief. I might narrate incidents[Pg 15] of the city's building—how stumps stood a half dozen years ago where such and such a million dollar hostelry now rises, or how so-and-so exchanged a sack of flour for lots whose value to-day is reckoned in six figures. But these are matters of business, and business was divorced years ago from the simple pleasures of the out-of-doors.

Portland is a city of prosperity. That fact strikes home to the most casual observer. Blessed above all else—especially in the eyes of an Easterner—is its freedom from poverty. There are no slums, no "lower east side" like New York's rabbit warrens, no Whitechapel hell holes. It is a clean, youthful city, delightfully located on either side of its river and rising on surrounding hills of rare beauty. Its metropolitan maturity, indeed, is all the more remarkable for its youth, as seventy years ago the site of the town was a howling wilderness, set in the midst of a territory peopled at best by a few score whites.

It was in 1845 that the first settler, Overton by name, made his home where now is Portland. Close after him came Captain John H. Couch, who located a donation land claim where is now the northern portion of the city. And from that be[Pg 16]ginning gradually grew the city of to-day which in the California gold rush of the early fifties received her first notable impetus through her position as a commanding supply point for the fast-crowding and lavishly opulent sister State to the south.

Born at the hands of pioneers and weaned with the gold of California, the city was sturdily founded, and to-day the strength of the pioneer blood and the glow of the golden beginnings are still upon her.

The fairest of fair Portland is seen from her show hilltop, Council Crest. The days are not all sunny, but when they are and neither "Oregon mist"—which is a local humor for downright rain—nor clouds obscure the outlook, the easterly skyline from Council Crest is a superbly pleasing introduction to the State. Over the mists of the lowlands you see Mount Hood, and to have seen Mount Hood, even from afar, is to have tasted the rarest visual delight of all the Northwest land. Shasta, to the south, was an imposing welcomer to the empire of surpassing views, but Hood outdoes Shasta and its snow-crowned neighbors of the old Oregon country as completely as the pinnacles[Pg 17] of Switzerland overshadow their lesser companions of the Italian Alps. Hood, somehow, breathes the very spirit of the State it stands for; its charm is the essence of the beauty of its surroundings, its stateliness the keynote of the strength of the sturdy West. It is a white, chaste monument of hope, radiantly setting for its peoples roundabout a mark of high attainment.

A city of destiny its friends call Portland, and a mountain of destiny surely is Hood—its destiny to diffuse something of the spirit of healthful happiness and fuller ideals for those, at least, who will take time from the busy rush of their multiplying prosperity.

And here again, on Council Crest, I venture to turn back to 1860; venture at least again to quote from the literary heritage of Theodore Winthrop, who saw Oregon's mountains then and wrote of them and their influences these lines:

Our race has never yet come into contact with great mountains as companions of daily life, nor felt that daily development of the finer and more comprehensive senses which these signal facts of nature compel. That is an influence of the future. The Oregon people, in a climate where being is bliss,—where every breath is a draught of vivid life,—these Oregon people,[Pg 18] carrying to a new and grander New England of the West a fuller growth of the American Idea, under whose teaching the man of lowest ambitions must still have some little indestructible respect for himself, and the brute of most tyrannical aspirations some little respect for others; carrying there a religion two centuries farther on than the crude and cruel Hebraism of the Puritans; carrying the civilization of history where it will not suffer by the example of Europe,—with such material, that Western society, when it crystallizes, will elaborate new systems of thought and life. It is unphilosophical to suppose that a strong race, developing under the best, largest, and calmest conditions of nature, will not achieve a destiny.

Be that as it may, no man, seeing Hood from Portland for the first time, could but experience a longing to answer the call of the beckoning mountain, and to find for himself the secrets of the land that lies beyond it. And so Hood was the piper which called us to the hinterland of Oregon, where, quite by chance, we stayed, until now we find we are Oregonians, by adoption and by choice.[Pg 19]


CHAPTER III

The Land of Legends

HE nomenclature of the Northwest suffered at the hands of its English-speaking discoverers, for much that was fair to the ear in the Indian names has been replaced with dreary commonplaces, possessing neither beauty nor special fitness.

Two Yankee sea captains tossed a coin to decide whether they would name the city Portland or Boston. The Boston skipper lost, and "Multnomah," which was the old Indian name for the place and means "Down the Waters," became prosaic Portland. Because some Methodist missionaries preferred a name with a Biblical twang to the Indian "Chemeketa," meaning the "Place of Peace," Oregon's capital of to-day became Salem and the title which the red men gave their council ground was abandoned.

The Great River was first known as the Oregon,[Pg 20] just why no authority seems to tell us reliably but later became the Columbia when the ship of that name sailed across its bar. Jonathan Carver's choice in names, however, if no longer bestowed upon the river, soon became that of all its lower regions, and they acquired the lasting title of the Oregon Country.

Mount Hood from Lost Lake
Mount Hood from Lost Lake Copyrighted photo by W. A. Raymond, Moro, Ore.

The old Oregon, the Columbia of to-day, was the gateway to the Pacific for the explorers and the immigrants of yesterday. For Lewis and Clark it opened a friendly passageway through the mountain ranges, and likewise for the human stream of immigration which later followed its banks from the East. So is it too a modern portal of prosperity for Portland, as this greatest river of the West concentrates the tonnage of much of three vast states by water grades at Portland's door, and two transcontinental railroads follow its banks, draining the wealth of the Inland Empire while enriching it, just as the river itself physically drains and adds wealth to the territory it traverses.

To us the Columbia was a gateway to the hinterland, for our pilgrimage upon it was easterly, up into the land of sunshine beyond Mount Hood[Pg 21] and the Cascade mountain range, starting, on an impulse, after viewing the snow-covered barriers from the heights of Portland. And as we journeyed easterly up the great river, whose water came from lakes of the Canadian Rockies distant fourteen hundred miles, we found ourselves at once in a region of surpassing scenery and a land of quaint Indian legends.

A great wall of mountains shuts off the coastal regions from eastern Oregon and Washington. The two divisions are as dissimilar in climate and vegetation as night and day. To the west is rain and lush growth; to the east, drought and semi-arid desert. West of the Cascades are fir forests cluttered with underbrush and soggy with springs, while east are dry pine lands, park-like in their open beauty. The high plains of the hinterland are yellow grain fields chiefly, and irrigation is the right hand of agriculture; in the Willamette Valley, nature brings forth all things in a revel of productivity.

The Columbia cleaves this great wall asunder, breaking through the mountains in a gorge some three thousand feet deep. Here was the mythical bridge of the gods, which, legend narrates, once[Pg 22] spanned the river from one mountainous bank to the other until ultimately it fell and dammed the stream. You come upon the site of the legendary bridge where Government locks now circumnavigate the cascades, a fall in the river of wondrous beauty, hemmed in on north and south by timbered mountains. Sunken forests hereabout indicate that at one time the river's course was checked by some great dam or volcanic convulsion, and every evidence in the geological surroundings points to stupendous natural cataclysms which distorted the face of nature leaving the sublime formations of the present.

Natives spearing salmon on the Columbia
Natives spearing salmon on the Columbia
Copyright 1901 by Benj. A. Gifford, The Dalles, Ore.
Coasting on Mount Hood
Coasting on Mount Hood
From a photograph by Weister Co., Portland, Ore.

As the train or boat bound up the Columbia progresses through this weird portal, fortunate you are if told the myths of this region which so truly is a land of legends, as we were; of the mythical struggle between Mount Hood on the south and Mount Adams on the north, in whose progress Hood hurled a vast bowlder at his adversary which fell short of its intended mark, destroying the bridge; of the quaint fire legend of the Klickitats which later I chanced upon in print in Dr. Lyman's entertaining book The Columbia River.

A father and two sons came from the East to[Pg 23] the land along the Columbia, and the boys quarreled over the division of their chosen acres. So, to end the dispute, the father shot an arrow to the west and one to the north, bidding his sons make their homes where the arrows fell. From one son sprang the tribe of Klickitats, while the other founded the nation of Multnomah. Then Sahale, the Great Spirit, erected the Cascade Range as a barrier wall between them to prevent possibility of friction. The remainder of Dr. Lyman's pretty myth is best told in his own words:

But for convenience' sake, Sahale had created the great tamanous bridge under which the waters of the Columbia flowed, and on this bridge he had stationed a witch woman called Loowit, who was to take charge of the fire. This was the only fire of the world. As time passed on Loowit observed the deplorable condition of the Indians, destitute of fire and the conveniences which it might bring. She therefore besought Sahale to allow her to bestow fire upon the Indians. Sahale, greatly pleased by the faithfulness and benevolence of Loowit, finally granted her request. The lot of the Indians was wonderfully improved by the acquisition of fire. They began to make better lodges and clothes and had a variety of food and implements, and, in short, were marvellously benefitted by the bounteous gift.

[Pg 24]

The Pacific

The Pacific
Copyright 1910 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Along the Columbia—"Grotesque rocks rise sheer from the
river's edge"

Along the Columbia—"Grotesque rocks rise sheer from the river's edge"
Copyright 1910 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland. Ore.

But Sahale, in order to show his appreciation of the care with which Loowit had guarded the sacred fire, now determined to offer her any gift she might desire as a reward. Accordingly, in response to his offer, Loowit asked that she be transformed into a young and beautiful girl. This was accordingly effected, and now, as might have been expected, all the Indian chiefs fell deeply in love with the guardian of tamanous bridge. Loowit paid little heed to any of them, until finally there came two chiefs, one from the north called Klickitat and one from the south called Wiyeast. Loowit was uncertain which of these two she most desired, and as a result a bitter strife arose between the two. This waxed hotter and hotter, until, with their respective warriors, they entered upon a desperate war. The land was ravaged, until all their new comforts were marred, and misery and wretchedness ensued. Sahale repented that he had allowed Loowit to bestow fire upon the Indians, and determined to undo all his work in so far as he could. Accordingly he broke down the tamanous bridge, which dammed up the river with an impassable reef, and put to death Loowit, Klickitat, and Wiyeast. But, inasmuch as they had been noble and beautiful in life, he determined to give them a fitting commemoration after death. Therefore he reared over them as monuments the great snow peaks; over Loowit, what we now call Mt. St. Helen's; over Wiyeast, the modern Mt. Hood; and, above Klickitat, the great dome which now we call Mt. Adams.

[Pg 25]

Up through timbered hillsides, from green fields, from the verdure of the western flanks of the Cascades, winds the great river. The banks become steeper, the mountains behind them more rugged. Fairy threads of silver, falling water, flutter down from cliffs. Grotesque rocks, mighty monuments erected by a titan fire god when the world was young, rise sheer from the river's edge. Cumbersome fish wheels revolve sedately where the silver-sided salmon run in the springtime. The railroads cling close to the stream, perforce tunneling where nature has provided no passageway, and the boat ploughs against the current which here and there is swift and swirling as the cascades are approached. Then through the locks you go, or by them if you travel by the steel highways, and quickly the scenes change, these new ones painted in a vastly different vein from those that have gone before.

The lofty, steep-walled hills become more gentle, and their cloak of green timber merges into brown grass. The river rolls between banks of barrenness as we emerge on the western rim of the land of little rain, for the moisture-laden clouds from the Pacific are thwarted in their eastern progress[Pg 26] by the mountain barrier, along whose summits they cluster weeping, in their baffled anger, upon the wet westerly slopes, while the dry sunny eastland mocks their dour grayness. Close beside the river is the harshest of all this rainless land; sand blows, the cliffs are bare and black, the hillsides bleak and brown. But ever so little away from the barren valley bottom are rich regions of orchards and green fields, and easterly, in the countries of Walla Walla, Palouse, and John Day, far-reaching fields of grain abound. Farming is upon a bonanza basis, and the bigness of it all is reminiscent of the Dakotas, were it not for the majestic mountain skylines, blessed visual reliefs lacking altogether in the continental mid-regions. The volume then, is bound misleadingly, and those who see naught but its unprepossessing exterior gain no inkling of its charming hidden chapters.

Then come The Dalles of the Columbia, close to the town of the same name, where the river, a sane waterway for a half a thousand miles above, suddenly goes mad for a brief space of lawless waterfall and rock-rimmed cascades. At Walla Walla—whose very name means "where[Pg 27] the waters meet"—the two chief forks of the old Oregon River converge, the Columbia proper and the Snake, the one draining a northern empire, the other swinging southerly through Idaho, "the gem of the mountains" as the Indians baptized it. Thence the great stream flows westerly some one hundred and twenty miles until it reaches the outlying ridge of the Cascade chain, there encountering a huge low surface paved with glacier-polished sheets of basaltic rock. These plates, says Winthrop Parker, who saw them as a trail follower in the early 'sixties, gave the place the name Dalles, thanks to the Canadian voyageurs in the Hudson Bay service. A brief distance above this flinty pavement the river is a mile wide, but where it forces tumultuous passageway through the rocks it narrows to a mere rift compressed, if not subdued, by the adamantine barriers it cannot force asunder. Where the sides grow closest through three rough slits in the rocky floor the white waters bore, each chasm so narrow that a child could cast a stone across.

On either hand are monotonous plains, gray with sagebrush and brown with sunburned grass.[Pg 28] Rough hills rise northerly, in Washington. Eastward roll lower broadening lands, but turbulent with lesser hills. West is the great ridge of the Cascade Range, with Hood rising majestic guardian over all, and the broad Columbia vanishing into the very heart of the shadowed mountains, unchecked on its seaward quest. The summer sunlight is blinding bright and the sky ethereal blue. An Indian hovel, or a ragged home of a fish-spearer beside the rushing waters, furnishes contrast—that of puny humanity in the face of nature at her mightiest. The view is at once compellingly beautiful and weirdly repelling. Few would live along the great river or thereabout from choice; and yet the view of it—the startling, colorful panorama—is golden treasure beyond the dreams of avarice.

Celilo Falls on the Columbia

Celilo Falls on the Columbia
Copyright 1902 by Benj. A. Gifford, The Dalles, Ore.
The north abutment of the Bridge of the Gods
The north abutment of the Bridge of the Gods
Copyright 1902 by Benj. A. Gifford, The Dalles, Ore.

It is this setting which marked the old-time entrance into Central Oregon. Those words "old-time," are characteristic of the swift-moving country; for using them, I refer to but six years ago, when Oregon's hinterland was a wilderness so far as railroads were concerned. These dalles of the Columbia, a milepost on the old transcontinental trail, are a place seen and passed to-[Pg 29]day by those who rush on rails in brief hours where the pioneers of fifty years ago labored weeks. Also were these dalles prominent in Indian life in the quiet midyears of the last century, when beavers were more plentiful than palefaces. Indeed, back to the very beginnings of Northwestern Indian lore their story goes, coming to us, like so much else of the misty past of the Oregon Country, in a quaint legend.

In the late 'fifties Theodore Winthrop made his way 'cross country from Port Townsend, on Puget Sound, to The Dalles on the Columbia. His book, The Canoe and the Saddle, describes that pioneer excursion through Indian land, traversing what was in reality an untrodden wilderness. Its charm of literary expression is in no whit less fascinating than the wealth of its adventurous material, but the two, like the writer, are far behind us, and all of the pleasant account I would refer to here is the last chapter, which concerns the arrival at The Dalles, then an outpost of civilization.

Looking down upon the valley of The Dalles, Winthrop writes a half century ago:[Pg 30]

Where the Oregon Trunk Railway crosses the Columbia. "The
river rolls between banks of barrenness"
Where the Oregon Trunk Railway crosses the Columbia. "The river rolls between banks of barrenness"
Copyright 1912 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Columbia River. The land of Indian legends
Columbia River. The land of Indian legends
Copyright 1909 by Benj. A. Gifford, The Dalles, Ore.

Racked and battered crags stood disorderly over all that rough waste. There were no trees, nor any masses of vegetation to soften the severities of the landscape. All was harsh and desolate, even with the rich sun of an August afternoon doing what it might to empurple the scathed fronts of rock, to gild the ruinous piles with summer glories, and throw long shadows veiling dreariness. I looked upon the scene with the eyes of a sick and weary man, unable to give that steady thought to mastering its scope and detail without which any attempt at artistic description becomes vague generalization.

My heart sank within me as the landscape compelled me to be gloomy like itself. It was not the first time I had perused the region under desolating auspices. In a log barrack I could just discern far beyond the river, I had that very summer suffered from a villain malady, the smallpox. And now, as then, Nature harmonized discordantly with my feelings, and even forced her nobler aspects to grow sternly ominous. Mount Hood, full before me across the valley, became a cruel reminder of the unattainable. It was brilliantly near, and yet coldly far away, like some mocking bliss never to be mine, though it might insult me forever by its scornful presence.

Evidently it was while held captive by the "villain malady" that Winthrop learned from the Indians the legend of The Dalles, which he told so well that to paraphrase it would be folly.[Pg 31] Here I give it, as extracted from the thumb-marked little book whose publication date is 1863:

The world has been long cycles in educating itself to be a fit abode for men. Man, for his part, has been long ages in growing upward through lower grades of being, to become whatever he now may be. The globe was once nebulous, was chaotic, was anarchic, and is at last become somewhat cosmical. Formerly rude and convulsionary forces were actively at work, to compel chaos into anarchy and anarchy into order. The mighty ministries of the elements warred with each other, each subduing and each subdued. There were earthquakes, deluges, primeval storms, and furious volcanic outbursts. In this passionate, uncontrolled period of the world's history, man was a fiend, a highly uncivilized, cruel, passionate fiend.

The northwest was then one of the centres of volcanic action. The craters of the Cascades were fire-breathers, fountains of liquid flame, catapults of red-hot stones. Day was lurid, night was ghastly with this terrible light. Men exposed to such dread influences could not be other than fiends, as they were, and they warred together cruelly, as the elements were doing.

Where the great plains of the Upper Columbia now spread, along the Umatilla, in the lovely valley of the Grande Ronde, between the walls of the Grand Coulee, was an enormous inland sea filling the vast interior of the continent, and beating forever against ramparts of hills, to the east of the desolate plain of the Dalles.[Pg 32]

Every winter there were convulsions along the Cascades, and gushes of lava came from each fiery Tacoma, to spread new desolation over desolation, pouring out a melted surface, which, as it cooled in summer, became a fresh layer of sheeny, fire-hardened dalles.

The Dalles of the Columbia
The Dalles of the Columbia From a photograph by Weister Co., Portland, Ore.

Now as the fiends of that epoch and region had giant power to harm each other, they must have of course giant weapons of defence. Their mightiest weapon of offence and defence was their tail; in this they resembled the iguanodons and other "mud pythons" of that period, but no animal ever had such force of tail as these terrible monster fiendmen who warred together all over the Northwest.

As ages went on, and the fires of the Cascades began to accomplish their duty of expanding the world, earthquakes and eruptions diminished in virulence. A winter came when there was none. By and by there was an interval of two years, then again of three years, without rumble or shock, without floods of fire or showers of red-hot stones. Earth seemed to be subsiding into an era of peace. But the fiends would not take the hint to be peaceable; they warred as furiously as ever.

Stoutest in heart and tail of all the hostile tribes of that scathed region was a wise fiend, the Devil. He had observed the cessation in convulsions of Nature, and had begun to think out its lesson. It was the custom of the fiends, so soon as the Dalles plain became agreeably cool after an eruption, to meet there every summer and have a grand tournament[Pg 33] after their fashion. Then they feasted riotously, and fought again until they were weary.

Although the eruptions of the Tacomas had ceased now for three years, as each summer came round this festival was renewed. The Devil had absented himself from the last two, and when, on the third summer after his long retirement, he reappeared among his race on the field of tourney, he became an object of respectful attention. Every fiend knew that against his strength there was no defence; he could slay so long as the fit was on. Yet the idea of combined resistance to so dread a foe had never hatched itself in any fiendish head; and besides, the Devil, though he was feared, was not especially hated. He had never won the jealousy of his peers by rising above them in morality. So now as he approached, with brave tail vibrating proudly, all admired and many feared him.

The Devil drew near, and took the initiative in war, by making a peace speech.

"Princes, potentates, and powers of these infernal realms," said he, "the eruptions and earthquakes are ceasing. The elements are settling into peacefulness. Can we not learn of them? Let us give up war and cannibalism, and live in milder fiendishness and growing love."

Then went up a howl from deviltry. "He would lull us into crafty peace, that he may kill and eat safely. Death! death to the traitor!"

And all the legions of fiends, acting with a rare unanimity, made straight at their intended Reformer.[Pg 34]

Along the Columbia River. "A region of surpassing
scenery"
Along the Columbia River. "A region of surpassing scenery"
Copyright 1912 by Kiser Co., Portland, Oregon.

The Devil pursued a Fabian policy, and took to his heels. If he could divide their forces, he could conquer in detail. Yet as he ran his heart was heavy. He was bitterly grieved at this great failure, his first experience in the difficulties of Reform. He flagged sadly as he sped over the Dalles, toward the defiles near the great inland sea, whose roaring waves he could hear beating against their bulwark. Could he but reach some craggy strait among the passes, he could take position and defy attack.

But the foremost fiends were close upon him. Without stopping, he smote powerfully upon the rock with his tail. The pavement yielded to that titanic blow. A chasm opened and went riving up the valley, piercing through the bulwark hills. Down rushed the waters of the inland sea, churning boulders to dust along the narrow trough.

The main body of the fiends shrunk back terror-stricken; but a battalion of the van sprang across and made one bound toward the heart-sick and fainting Devil. He smote again with his tail, and more strongly. Another vaster cleft went up and down the valley, with an earth quaking roar, and a vaster torrent swept along.

Still the leading fiends were not appalled. They took the leap without craning. Many fell short, or were crowded into the roaring gulf, but enough were left, and those of the chiefest braves, to martyr their chase in one instant, if they overtook him. The Devil had just time enough to tap once more, and with all the vigor of a despairing tail.

[Pg 35]

He was safe. A third crevice, twice the width of the second, split the rocks. This way and that it went, wavering like lightning eastward and westward, riving a deeper cleft in the mountains that held back the inland sea, riving a vaster gorge through the majestic chain of the Cascades, and opening a way for the torrent to gush oceanward. It was the crack of doom for the fiends. A few essayed the leap. They fell far short of the stern edge, where the Devil had sunk panting. They alighted on the water, but whirlpools tripped them up, tossed them, bowled them along among floating boulders, until the buffeted wretches were borne to the broader calms below, where they sunk. Meanwhile, those who had not dared the final leap attempted a backward one, but wanting the impetus of pursuit, and shuddering at the fate of their comrades, every one of them failed and fell short; and they too were swept away, horribly sprawling in the flood.

As to the fiends who had stopped at the first crevice, they ran in a body down the river to look for the mangled remains of their brethren, and, the undermined bank giving way under their weight, every fiend of them was carried away and drowned.

So perished the whole race of fiends.

As to the Devil, he had learnt a still deeper lesson. His tail also, the ensign of deviltry, was irremediably dislocated by his life-saving blow. In fact, it had ceased to be any longer a needful weapon! Its antagonists were all gone; never a tail remained to be brandished at it, in deadly encounter.[Pg 36]

So, after due repose, the Devil sprang lightly across the chasms he had so successfully engineered, and went home to rear his family thoughtfully. Every year he brought his children down to the Dalles, and told them the terrible history of his escape. The fires of the Cascades burned away; the inland sea was drained, and its bed became a fair prairie, and still the waters gushed along the narrow crevice he had opened. He had, in fact, been the instrument in changing a vast region from a barren sea into habitable land.

One great trial, however, remained with him, and made his life one of grave responsibility. All his children born before the catastrophe were cannibal, stiff-tailed fiends. After that great event, every newborn imp of his was like himself in character and person, and wore but a flaccid tail, the last insignium of ignobility. Quarrels between these two factions embittered his days and impeded civilization. Still it did advance, and long before his death he saw the tails disappear forever.

Such is the Legend of The Dalles,—a legend not without a moral.[Pg 37]


CHAPTER IV

The Land of Many Leagues

T was a very "typical" stagecoach. That is, it was typical of the style Broadway would have expected in the production of a Girl of the Golden West or The Great Divide. Very comfortably you may still see them in moving picture land—a region where the old West lives far woolier and wilder than it ever dared to be in actual life.

However, this stage was neither make-believe nor comfortable. It was very real and very comfortless. The time was six years ago and the place the one hundred miles of worse than indifferent road between Shaniko and Bend, in Central Oregon.

"Do you chew?" asked the driver.

I who sat next to him, plead innocence of the habit.

"Have a drink?" said he later, producing a flask. And again I asked to be excused.[Pg 38]

Central Oregon travel in the old days Central Oregon travel in the old days
A Central Oregon freighter. A Central Oregon freighter. "You will find them everywhere in the railless land, the freighters and their teams"

"Don't smoke, neither, I suppose?" The driver regarded me with suspicion. "Hell," said he, "th' country's goin' to the dogs. These here civilizin' inflooences is playing hob with everythin'. Las' three trips my passengers haven't been fit company for man or beast—they neither drank nor chawed. Not that I mean to be insultin'"—I assured him he was not—"but times certainly have changed. The next thing along 'll come a railroad and then all this goes to the scrap heap."

His gesture, with the last word, included the battered stage, the dejected horses, and the immediate surroundings of Shaniko Flats. For the life of me I could see no cause for regret even supposing his prophecy came true to the letter! Twenty hours later, when the springless seat, influenced by the attraction of gravitation in conjunction with the passage of many chuck holes, had permanently warped my spinal column, I would have been even more ready to endorse the threatened cataclysm.

Since that day when the old driver foresaw the yellow perils of "civilizin' inflooences" they have indeed invaded the land for which, until a couple[Pg 39] of years ago, his four horses and his rattletrap stage formed the one connecting link with the "outside." The "iron horse" has swept his old nags into oblivion, and two great railroads carry the passengers and packages which he and his brothers of the old Shaniko line transported in the past.

The change has come in five short years. Those, who, like myself, went a-pioneering for the fun of it, making for Central Oregon because upon the map it showed as the greatest railroadless land, have seen the warm breath of development work as picturesque changes there as ever in the story-book days when the West was in its infancy. We are young men, we who chanced to Oregon's hinterland a few seasons gone by, yet already can we spin yarns of the "good old days" which have a real smack of romance to them and cause the recounters themselves to sigh for what has gone before and, betimes, to pray for their return—almost!

Almost, but not actually. For who prefers twenty odd hours of stagecoaching to travel in a Pullman? or seriously bemoans the advent of electric lights, running water, cement sidewalks,[Pg 40] and other appurtenances of material development? Yet, of course, I realize full well how tame and inconsiderable the "pioneering," if by such a name it can be dignified, of Central Oregon in the last decade must appear in the eyes of Oregon's real pioneers, who came across the plains and staked out the State with monuments of courage driven deep with privation and far-sighted enterprise. Yet, while half our Eastern cousins believe the West utterly prosaic, and half are confident that some of it is still the scene of dashing adventure, and the dwellers of the Coast cities themselves are morally certain that all Oregon conducts itself along metropolitan lines, the fact remains that most of the big land between the Cascades and Blue Mountains was untouched yesterday and is to-day the pleasantest—and the least hackneyed—outdoor playland available in all the West.

Central Oregon occupied an eddy in the stream of Western progress. On the north the Columbia flowed past her doors, and the stream of immigration, first following the water and later the railroads, ignored the uninviting portals. Rock-rimmed toward the Columbia, lined with hills[Pg 41] on the east, hedged in by the Cascades on the west, and remote from California's valleys on the south, this empire of 30,000,000 acres has been a giant maverick, wandering at will among the ranges neglected by development. In 1911 the railroads roped the wanderer, when they forced their way southward from the Columbia up the canyon of the Deschutes. But my stage journey was two years prior to that.

Shaniko was a jumping-off place. It was the end of the Columbia Southern railroad, which began at Biggs—and if a road can have a worse recommendation than that I know it not! Biggs, under the grassless cliffs beside the Columbia, baked by sun, lashed by wind, and blinded with sand, was impossible; and had it not been for the existence of Biggs one truthfully might call Shaniko the least attractive spot in the universe! The transcontinental train deposited me at Biggs and the Columbia Southern trainlet received me, after a brief interval dedicated to bolstering up the inner man with historic ham sandwiches and coffee innocent of history, served in a shack beside a sand dune.

Seventy miles separates Biggs from Shaniko,[Pg 42] and a long afternoon was required to negotiate the distance. For an hour the diminutive train panted up oppressive grades, winding among rain-washed coulees, where the soil was red adobe and the rocks were round and also tinged with red. Stunted sagebrush clothed the hillsides scantily, their slopes serried by cattle trails as evenly as contour lines upon a map. Then, the rim of the Columbia hills gained, away we rattled southward, more directly and with some pretense of speed, across a rolling plateau of stubble fields and grain lands, dotted here and there with homes and serried by rounded valleys where the gold of sun and grain, and the gray of vagrant cloud shadows, made gorgeous picturings. Westerly, beyond the drab and golden foreground and the blue haziness of the middle distance, the Cascade Range silhouetted against a sky whose tones became richer and more cheerful as evening approached.

In the dry-farms lands of Central Oregon In the dry-farms lands of Central Oregon. "Serried by valleys, where the gold of sun and grain, and vagrant shadows, made gorgeous paintings."

With the evening came Shaniko. "The evil that men do lives after them," said Mark Antony, "the good is oft interred with their bones." So let it not be with Shaniko, for then in truth, of this town whose brightest day has gone little indeed would survive.

[Pg 43]

Shaniko was the railroad point for all Central Oregon when I first made its acquaintance, and from it freighters hauled merchandise to towns as far distant as two hundred miles. Stages radiated to the south, and, in 1909, a few hardy automobiles tried conclusions with the roads. The sheep of a sheepman's empire congregated there, giving Shaniko one boast of preëminence—it shipped more wool than any other point in the State. With streets of mud or dust, according to the season, a score or so of frame shacks, its warehouses, livery barns, corrals, shipping pens, and hotels, Shaniko in its prime was a busy lighting place for birds of passage, a boisterous town of freighters, cowmen, and sheep herders. It, like its stagecoaches, was typical, I suppose, of the town found a decade or so ago upon our receding frontiers, and still encountered in the fancies of novelists whose travels are confined to the riotous territory east of Pittsburg.

"Where are you bound?" my table neighbor asked me at supper.

"I'm not sure," said I truthfully.

"Oh, a land seeker. Well, when it comes right down to getting something worth while[Pg 44]—something for nothing, you might say—the claims down by Silver Lake can't be beat. They—" and he launched into a rosy description of the land of his choice which lasted until the presiding Amazon deftly transferred the fork I had been using to the plate of pie she placed before me, a gentle lesson in domestic economy. My informant was a professional "locator" whose business it is to combine the landless man and the manless land with some profit to himself, in the shape of a fee for showing each "prospect" a suitable tract of untaken earth hitherto the property of Uncle Sam.

Another neighbor took me in hand. The odor of gasolene about him—it was even more pungent than the fumes of other liquids, taken internally—proclaimed him an auto driver.

"If you don't know where to go, let me show you," was the offer of this would-be guide and philosopher—I assume him a philosopher on the ground that any pilot in Central Oregon in those days must be one.

In answer to my inquiries he bade me hie straight to Harney County. It was two hundred and fifty miles away. But I lost heart, stuck to my origi[Pg 45]nal half-resolve, and declared Bend my objective point. In later experience it was borne home to me that those pioneer auto men of Shaniko always sang loudest the praises of the most distant point; their rate was ten or fifteen cents per mile per passenger, and on the face of it their business acumen is apparent!

One hundred miles of staging—five hundred and twenty-eight thousand feet of dust, if it be summer, or mud, if it be winter; Heaven knows how many chuck holes, how many ruts, how many bumps! The ride, commencing at eight one evening, ended about six the next. No early Christian martyr was more thoroughly bruised and stiffened at the hands of Roman mobs than the tenderfoot traveler on the memorable Shaniko-Bend journey! And there were so many rich possibilities—nay, probabilities—of diversion. Winter blizzards on Shaniko Flats were to be expected, while after thaws the heavy stages "bogged down" with aggravating regularity. The steep villainous road of the Cow Canyon grade upset many a vehicle, and well I recall one January night, when a two-day rain had turned to snow, when the air was freezing but the mud[Pg 46] was soft, how the up-stage and the down-stage met in the awful hours where there was no turning out: clothing was ruined that night, and dispositions warped beyond repair, while passengers labored and swore and labored again until at last one stage had been snaked out of the way on a hand-made shelf, so to speak, and a passing effected. Later, we, who were Shaniko bound, were capsized in the mud. Half-frozen, wholly exhausted, we finally reached the railroad one hour after the day's only train had departed! But those were incidents of the road.


I think I never before saw a man lose his eye and recover it. Yet that was the optical antic played by my companion "inside." He was a horse buyer, and I attributed his leer to a cast of character one naturally connects with horse-trading, until all at once he was groping on the floor.

"Lost something?" I inquired politely.

"My eye."

On bank holidays I have heard 'Arry say that to 'Arriet at 'Ammersmith, but as an exclamation, not an explanation. "My eye, he's lost[Pg 47] something valuable, and is British in his expression," thought I innocently. So I inquired if I could help him in the search.

"And er—what was it you lost?" I added.

"My eye!" He glowered up at me, and the flicker of the match I held showed a one-eyed face—the eye that had stared at me askew a few minutes before was missing!

Finally the glass optic was recovered, and he explained that the dust, working in about it, irritated him, so that occasionally he slipped it out for cleaning with his handkerchief. During such a polishing it had slipped to the floor. "I never get caught," he added with a touch of pride, "here's number two, in case of accidents," and he fished a substitute from his pocket. That second eye, I noted by daylight later, was blue, while his own was brown. No doubt it is difficult to get eyes that match.

As we bumped along a valley bottom, shrouded in our tenacious cloud of dust, the driver, with whom I rode again, pointed out a couple of ultra-prosperous appearing ranches.

"Millionaires row," he chuckled. "They don't pay interest, but they're real wild and western[Pg 48] when it comes to frills. Further up the line you'll see somethin' rich, perhaps."

The promised attraction was a young gentleman in a silk shirt and white flannels following a plow down a furrow, and in turn followed by an aristocratic-looking bulldog. "The dawg," explained my companion, "is blue blood Borston. His pedigree's a heap longer than mine and valued at more thousand dollars than I dare tell. His boss there has a daddy worth a million or so, and when he himself ain't farmin' he scoots around in a five-thousand-dollar ortermobile. But mostly he plays rancher an' makes hay an' beds down the hawses an' all the rest of it. It's a queer game. Crazy's what I call it. There's a whole nest of 'em hereabouts."

So we saw the un-idle rich laboring in the fields. In the nature of things the old-timers regard the species with amusement, figuring, now and then, how many cuttings of alfalfa it would take to pay for the Boston bull, and attempting to determine why anyone with an income should elect such an existence, with the wide world at their beck!

This was my introduction to the land of great[Pg 49] distances—twenty odd hours of toil over rolling plains of sagebrush, green-floored valleys, timbered hill lands, always—their indelible influence is the first impression of the newcomer whose outlook is a fraction higher than the earth he treads—always with the mountains of the western skyline dominating whatever panorama presented itself. Peaks turbaned with white, tousled foothills, olive green, their limitless forests of pine surging upward from the level of the sage-carpeted, juniper-studded plains. The land of many miles, and of broad beautiful views, is Oregon's hinterland.

Many miles? Aye, truly. My friend Kinkaid drives his auto trucks to Burns, one hundred and fifty miles to the southeast. Southwards to Silver Lake is another truck line, ninety miles long, which daily bears Uncle Sam's mails to the inland communities, a notable example of the pioneering of this age of gasolene. Each morning automobiles start from Bend, the railroad's end, for paltry jumps of from fifty to three hundred miles, and the passengers drink their final cup of coffee with the indifference a Staten Island dweller accords a contemplated trip across the bay.[Pg 50]

Viewed sanely, the contempt for distances is appalling—at least as distance is measured elsewhere. An instance, this: Burns is one hundred and fifty miles from Bend; a year or two ago, through the enterprise of citizens of the two communities, a new road was "opened" between—scarcely a road, but a passageway among the sagebrush navigable with motor-driven craft. It is to celebrate! So some forty citizens of Bend, in a fourth that many cars, make the little jaunt to Burns. They leave at dawn: they reach Burns that night: they are dined and wined and the road-marriage of their town is fittingly celebrated; then, another dawn being upon them, they deem it folly to waste time with trivialities like sleep, they crank their cars, and they are back at Bend, and lo! it is but the evening of the second day!

The past, naturally, was worse than the present, so far as the difficulties of great mileage are concerned. The little town of Silver Lake in south-central Oregon, to-day is in the lap of luxury, transportationly speaking, being but a beggarly ninety miles from a railroad. But in the early 'nineties no one but a centipede would have considered frequent calls at Silver Lake with any[Pg 51] equanimity. Then all the freight came from The Dalles, two hundred and thirty miles to the north, and the tariff often showed four cents a pound, which must have contributed fearfully to the high cost of living, not to mention the cost of high living, with wet goods weighing what they do. When the roads were good and teamsters moderately sober the round trip occupied forty days, one way light, the return loaded. In all the two hundred and thirty miles Prineville was the only town, and some of the camps were dry.

"Th' town couldn't help but grow," an oldtimer confided to me. "Yer see, it was such a durn fierce trip, after a feller tried it once he never wanted ter repeat—so he stayed with us!"

Burns, over in Harney County, in the southeastern portion of the State, is another example of what the long haul means. During the summer of comparatively good roads the one hundred and fifty miles to the railroad isn't especially serious, but when winter comes the "outside" is far away indeed, and often for two months no freight at all contrives to negotiate the gumbo, snow, and frozen ruts. So, late in the autumn the Burns merchant lays in a winter stock, while the[Pg 52] auto trucks hibernate, and the burdens of such forehandedness, no doubt, are shifted to the shoulders of his customers.

Modernity has not swept the field clean, even to-day, and gasolene scarce yet outranks hay as a fuel for the mile makers. The settler and the land looker move on their restless rounds in the white-canvassed prairie schooner of old, and the great freighting outfits, which have borne the tonnage of the West since there was a white man's West, still churn the dust with the hoofs of their straining horses and the wheels of their lurching wagons. You will find them everywhere in the railless lands, the freighters and their teams. They are camped by the water-hole in the desert, or where there is no water, and they must depend upon barrels they bring with them. The little fire of sagebrush roots or greasewood shows the string of wagons—two, three, or four—strung out by the roadside with the horses, from four to twelve, munching hay. They are in the timber, in the country of lakes to the south, on the grassy ranges. In fact, you find the freighters where there is freight to be hauled, and that is—where men are.[Pg 53]

But to-day all of Central Oregon is not railroadless land, the trail of steel has pushed to the heart of the country, and what a contrast to the old Shaniko stage days it is to roll smoothly into Bend over ninety-pound rails! Picturesque, too, was the sudden breaking of the long spell when the transportation kings constructed their lines up the Canyon of the Deschutes. Twice, as they built, I walked the length of that hundred-mile-long defile, seeing the dawn of progress in the very breaking, and viewing what is to me the most stupendously appealing river scenery in all the Northwest—this same Canyon of the Deschutes.[Pg 54]


CHAPTER V

How the Railroads Came

HEN the West moves, it moves quickly. The map of Oregon had long shown a huge area without the line of a single railroad crossing it. This railless land was Central Oregon, the largest territory in the United States without transportation. Then, almost over night, the map was changed.

Normal men, if they are reasonably good, hope to go to Heaven. Westerners, if they are off the beaten track, hope for a railroad; and if they have one road they hope for another! You who dwell in the little land of suburban trains and commutation tickets have no conception of the vital significance of rail transportation in the Land of Many Miles.

In Central Oregon the railroad question was one of life and death. The country had progressed so far without them, and could go no farther.[Pg 55] Farm products not qualified to find a market on their own feet were next to worthless, timber could not be milled, irrigation development was at a standstill. The people had seen so many survey stakes planted and grow and rot and produce nothing, and had been fed upon so many railroad rumors, that there was no faith in them.


"I think it's a railroad!" gasped the telephone operator as she called me to the booth. Her eyes were bright. It was as if a Frenchman had said, "Berlin is taken!"

But I, a skeptic hardened by many shattered hopes, smiled incredulously. Nevertheless, I took the receiver with a tremor born of undying optimism—the optimism of the railless land.

"It's long distance," whispered the operator, torn between a sense of duty and a desire to eavesdrop.

"Hello!"

The only answer was a grinding buzz; a mile or two of Shaniko line was down—it usually was.

Then Prineville cut in and The Dalles said something cross and a faint inquiry came from Portland, far away. Yes, I was waiting.[Pg 56]

Crooked River Canyon, now spanned by a railroad bridge Crooked River Canyon, now spanned by a railroad bridge
In the Deschutes Canyon. "The river winds sinuously,
seeking first one, and then another, point of the compass"
In the Deschutes Canyon. "The river winds sinuously, seeking first one, and then another, point of the compass"
Copyright 1911 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.

"Hello, Putnam?" The speaker was the managing editor of a Portland newspaper. "Gangs have broken loose in the Deschutes Canyon," said he. "One of 'em is Harriman, we know, but the others are playing dark. Think it's Hill starting for California. You go—" then the buzz became too bad.

Finally The Dalles repeated the instructions. I was to go down the Canyon of the Deschutes and find out all about it. The head and nearest end of the Canyon was fifty miles away, and the Canyon itself was one hundred miles long. Glory be! But it was a railroad, and before I started the town was in the first throes of apoplectic celebration.

I went to Shaniko by auto, and thence by train to Grass Valley, midway to the Columbia. From Grass Valley a team took me westward to the rim of the Canyon of the Deschutes. There were fresh survey stakes and a gang of engineers working with their instruments on a hillside. Very obliging, were those engineers; they would tell me anything; they were building a railroad; it was headed for Mexico City and they themselves were the owners! Below was a new-made camp,[Pg 57] where Austrians labored on a right of way that had come to life almost over night. This was a Harriman camp; orders were, apparently, to get a strangle hold on the best line up the narrow Canyon—to crowd the other fellows out. But the mystery surrounding those "other fellows" clung close. From water boy to transit man they knew nothing, except that they were working for a famous contracting firm and that they emphatically were not in the employ of Hill interests.

This, which was no news at all, I 'phoned to Portland, and then set about visiting the suddenly awakened Canyon.

It is the only entrance from the north to the plateaus of Central Oregon, a deep gorge cut by the river through the heart of the hills. So one fine morning in July, 1909, after a generation of apathy, suddenly the two great systems, whose tracks follow opposite banks of the Columbia, threw their forces into the field, attempting to secure control of this strategic gateway. Altogether, it was a very picturesque duel; the quick move was characteristic of the country, and the very unexpectedness of it somehow was half-expected. And in the end, after all the[Pg 58] strategy and bluff and blocking tactics with shovels and with law briefs, the duel was a draw, and to-day each railroad follows the waters of the Deschutes.

During my observation of this picturesque battle of the Canyon, I walked its length twice, and saw amusing incidents in plenty.

At one point the Hill forces established a camp reached only by a trail winding down from above, its only access through a ranch. Forthwith the Harriman people bought that ranch, and "No trespassing" signs, backed by armed sons of Italy, cut off the communications of the enemy below. At a vantage point close to the water both surveys followed the same hillside, which offered the only practical passageway. One set of grade stakes overlapped the other, a few feet higher up. The Italian army, working furiously all one Sabbath morning, "dug themselves in" on the grade their engineers had established in most approved military style. But while they worked the Austrians came—these literally were the nationalities engaged in this "Battle of the Hillsides," unrecorded by history!—and hewed a grade a few feet above the first, the meanwhile[Pg 59] demolishing it. That angered Italy, whose forces executed a flank movement and started digging still another grade above the hostiles, inadvertently dislodging bowlders which rolled down upon the rival workers below. Then a fresh flanking movement, and more bowlders and nearly a riot! And so it went, until the top was reached, and there being no more hillside to maneuver upon, and no inclination to start over again, the two groups called quits and spent the balance of the day playing seven-up, leaving settlement of their burlesque to courts of law. And there were times when "coyote holes"—which are tunnels of dynamite—exploding on one side of the river, somehow sent shattered rock and pebbles in a dangerous deluge upon the tents across the stream.

The struggle for transportation supremacy was bitter enough, and comic, too, in spots. But the stage set for its acting was superb beyond compare.

Not without reason, the defile of the Deschutes has been called the "Grand Canyon of the Northwest." For a full one hundred miles the river races at the bottom of a steep-walled canyon, its sides here and there pinching in to the water's very edge, and often enough with sheer cliffs[Pg 60] towering mightily, their bases lapped by the white foam of rapids. Great rounded hills, green in spring, brown in summer, and white under the snows of winter, climb into the sky a thousand feet and more on either hand. Their sides are ribbed with countless cattle trails, like the even ripples of the wind and tide on a sandy beach. Strange contorted rock formations thrust forth from the lofty slopes, and occasional clutters of talus slides spill down into the water. Rich hues of red and brown warm the somber walls, where prehistoric fires burned the clay or rock, or minerals painted it. White-watered, crystal springs are born miraculously in the midst of apparent drought, offering arctic cold nectar the year around. The river winds sinuously, doubling back upon itself interminably, seeking first one, and then another, point of the compass, a veritable despair for railroad builders whose companion word for "results" must be "economy." Despite the stifling oppressiveness of that canyon bake-oven in July, with breezes few and far between and rattlesnakes omnipresent, the ever-changing grandeur was enough to repay for near-sunstroke and foot weariness.[Pg 61]

However, enjoyment of the scenery was not my mission. I was supposed to discover, authentically, who was backing that other road—where the millions were coming from. If it was Hill, it meant much to Oregon, for as yet the "Empire Builder" had never truly invaded the state, and if now he planned a great new line to California the railroad map of the West would indeed be disrupted. But at the end of ten days I knew no more than on the first.

At the farmhouse where they took me in to dinner mine host was highly elated, for the survey crossed the corner of his southern "forty" and he saw visions of a fat right-of-way payment and of a railway station. Later—his optimism was characteristic—surely a city would spring up, with corner lots priced fabulously. "Then," said he to Mandy, "we'll go to Yerrup." It was, of course, long before Yerrup became a shambles.

The old man was reminding me of the growth of Spokane—that universal example of the West!—which expanded from nothing to more than one hundred thousand in thirty years, when Mandy interrupted the universal pastime of counting your[Pg 62] lots before they are sold by producing a soiled printed form.

Along the Canyon of the Deschutes
Along the Canyon of the Deschutes
Copyright 1911 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland. Ore.

"Can you tell me if this has any value now?" she asked.

It was a voucher of the Great Northern Railroad.

"Where did you get it?"

She narrated how a crew had laid out the preliminary survey, now followed by the mysterious workers, coming through there secretly the previous autumn.

"They told us they was surveyin' water power," said she. "The papers never said nothing about it, and neither did we. They bought buttermilk here, an' when the Ol' Man cashed in the slips he forgot this one. Wonder if it's too late to get it paid?"

I told her it wasn't. In fact, I bought it myself, paying face value. It was $1.40.

Then I made tracks for the 'phone, eighteen miles away. Here, at last, was positive evidence that the Great Northern, the Hill system, was the power behind the new line. Six months ago while Oregon slept, they had made the secret survey upon which they were now constructing. A very pretty scoop, as western newspapering[Pg 63] goes! I offered my driver an extra dollar for haste's sake.

The managing editor listened while I outlined my beat over the wire. His silence seemed the least bit sad.

"Dandy story," said he. "If we'd had it yesterday it would have been fine. But—" There was no need for him to go further; I knew the worst.

An afternoon paper had wrecked my yarn. The emissary of the Hills, who had traveled secretly and under an assumed name all through the Interior determining whether or not the new line should be undertaken, had that morning told his story. The Hills were in the open as the backers of the Oregon Trunk. By a matter of hours a precious scoop was ancient history!

That man built much of the Panama Canal. He is one of the world's best-known construction engineers and railroaders. But I shall never forgive his tell-tale interview—it was premature. And some day I shall present for payment that voucher for $1.40, mentioning also the dollar I gave the driver, to John F. Stevens.[Pg 64]


CHAPTER VI

The Home Makers

HE horses are ill mated, the wagon decrepit. Baling wire sustains the harness and the patched canvas of the wagon top hints of long service.

"How far to Millican's?" says the driver.

He is a young man; at least, his eyes are young. His "woman" is with him and their three kiddies, the tiniest asleep in her mother's lap, with the dust caked about her wet baby chin. The man wears overalls, the woman calico that was gaudy once before the sun bleached it colorless, and the children nameless garments of uncertain ancestry. The wife seems very tired—as weary as the weary horses. Behind them is piled their household: bedding, a tin stove, chairs, a cream separator, a baby's go-cart, kitchen utensils, a plow and barbed wire, some carpet; beneath the wagon body swings a pail and lantern, and water barrel and axe are lashed at one side.[Pg 65]

We direct them to Millican's.

"Homesteading?" we inquire.

"Not exactly. That is, we're just lookin'."

There are hundreds like these all over the West, "just lookin'," with their tired wives, their babies, their poverty, and their vague hopefulness. They chase rainbows from Bisbee to Prince Rupert. Some of them settle, some of them succeed. But most of them are discontented wherever Fortune places them, and forever move forward toward some new-rumored El Dorado just over the hill.

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

That, of course, is rather picturesque, and, taken all in all, your average wanderer of the wagon road merits little heroics. His aspirations are apt to be earthy, and too often he seeks nothing loftier than a soft snap. In the final analysis[Pg 66] some of our western gypsies desire nothing more ardently than a rest.

The wanderer is the shiftless land seeker, and is to be distinguished from the sincere home seeker who fares forth into strange lands with his family and his penates, and who finds vacant government land and proceeds to "take it up." The best of all the free acres went years ago, along with the free timber and the other compensations for pioneering, but here and there remote areas worth having still remain. About the last of these, and by all odds the greatest, was in Central Oregon when the railroads opened the doors of immigration a few years ago.

Before the railroads came I went from Bend southeasterly through what is now well called the "homestead country," and in all the one hundred and fifty miles traversed we saw three human habitations: the stockman's, George Millican, the horse breeder, Johnny Schmeer, and the sheepman's, Bill Brown. The rest of it was sagebrush and jack rabbits, with a band of "fuzz-tails" stampeding at the sight of us and a few cattle nipping the bunch grass. My companions were a locator and a man who took up one of the[Pg 67] first "claims" in all that country, at Hampton Valley, one hundred and thirty miles from a railroad.

To-day there are schools out there, homes, fences, and plowed fields. Some of it is very good land, and the modern pioneers are prospering. Some of it is not so good, and there have been failures and disappointments as in all the homestead districts of all the West, past and present. For there is truth in the old saying that for the most part the first crop of homesteaders fails, and the success of the late comers is built upon the broken hopes of the pioneers. However that may be, the battle against the odds set up by a none too bountiful nature is often enough pitiful, and occasionally heroic.

Picture an unbroken plain of sagebrush. Low hills, a mile distant, are fringed with olive-green juniper trees; all the rest is gray, except the ever blue sky which must answer for the eternal hope in the hearts of the home makers—God smiles there. In the midst of the drab waste is a speck of white, a tent. A water barrel beside it tells the story of the long road to the nearest well—no road, but a trail, for this is well off the beaten[Pg 68] path and such luxuries as surveyed highways are yet to come. The tent is the very outpost of settlement, a mute testimonial of the insistent desire to possess land of one's very own.

Irrigation—"First, parched lands of sage; then the flow"
Irrigation—"First, parched lands of sage; then the flow"
Series Copyright 1909 by Asahel Curtis
Irrigation—"Next, water in a master ditch and countless
man-made rivulets between the furrows" Irrigation—"Next, water in a master ditch and countless man-made rivulets between the furrows"

Our car stops to inquire the way, and a woman appears. Yes, it is forty miles to Brookings' halfway house, as we had guessed.

"And to Bend?" We ask what we already know, perhaps because the woman—a girlish woman—so evidently would prolong the interruption to her solitude.

"About one hundred and twenty—a long way!" She smiles, adding, simply, "John's there."

Small wonder she clutches at us! John has been gone a fortnight, and for two days she has not even seen the Swansons, her "neighbors" over the hill, three miles away. Like a ship in the night, we all but passed her—passed with never a greeting for which her heart hungered, never a word from the "outside" to break the hard monotony. She is utterly alone, except for the rabbits and the smiling sky. Her husband is wage earning. And she sticks by their three hundred and twenty acres and does what she can with a mattock and a grubbing hoe. They have[Pg 69] a well started, and some fence posts in the ground. Some day, she says, they will make a home of it.

"We always dreamed of having a home," she explains a bit dreamily. "But it never seemed to come any closer on John's wages. So when we read of getting this land for nothing it seemed best to make the try. But of course it isn't 'free' at all—we've discovered that. And oh! it costs so much!"

We commiserate. We would help, and vaguely seek some means.

Help? Yes, gladly she will accept it, says the little woman—but not for herself. "Good gracious, why should I need it?" Nor have we the heart to offer reasons. But if we have a mind to be helpful, she continues, there is a case over in eighteen-eleven—she names the section and township—where charity could afford a smile. She tells us, then, of a half-sick woman with three infants, left on the homestead while the husband goes to town. There, instead of work, he gets drink, and fails to reappear with provisions. But the woman will not give up the scrap of land she has set her heart on, and doggedly remains. When the neighbors find her, she and the children have[Pg 70] existed for five days solely on boiled wheat. "And we needed it so for seeding," is her lament.

"It was a very typical stagecoach" "It was a very typical stagecoach"
In the homestead country In the homestead country

Our hostess of the desert stands by the ruts, waving to us through the dust of our wake, the embodiment of the spirit of pioneering, which burns to-day as brightly as ever in the past, could we but search it out and recognize it.

Such as she are home makers. However, the free lands are overridden with gamblers in values, with incompetents, with triflers. They are the chaff which will scatter before the winds of adversity. The others will succeed, just as they have succeeded elsewhere on the forefronts of civilization; the pity of it is that their lot may not be made easier, surer.

Returning from that trip I read a chapter in a book, newly published, dealing with this selfsame land. Concerning the homesteader I found these words:

I have seen many sorts of desperation, but none like that of the men who attempt to make a home out of three hundred and twenty acres of High Desert sage.... A man ploughing the sage—his woman keeping the shack—a patch of dust against the dust, a shadow within a shadow—sage and sand and space!

[Pg 71]

The author is a New Englander, who had seen Oregon with scholastic eyes. The harsh frontier had no poetry, no hope, for him—only hopelessness. But the woman in the tent, the Swansons over the hill, and the hundreds of other Swansons scattering now, and for many years gone by, over the lands of the setting sun, know better, though their grammar be inferior and their enthusiasm subconscious. Men saw and spoke as did the New Englander when Minnesota was being wrested from the wilderness, when people were dubbed insane for trying conclusions with the Palouse country, when the Dakotas were considered agricultural nightmares. In the taming of new empires unbridled optimism is no more prevalent than blinded pessimism.

Closer to home I know another woman, a farmer, too. Hers is an irrigated ranch, and she works with her shovel among the ditches as sturdily as the hired man. Poor she is in wealth, as it is reckoned, and her husband poorer still in health, for he was rescued from a desk in the nick of time. He is fast mending now, and confesses to a rare pleasure in making two blades of grass grow where none at all grew in the unwatered[Pg 72] sands. And in truth, simply watching the accomplishments of irrigation is tonic enough to revive the faint. First, parched lands of sage; the grub hoe and the mattock clear the way, and then the plow. Next, water, in a master ditch and countless, man-made rivulets between the furrows. Finally—presto! the magic of a single season does it—green fields of clover and alfalfa smile in the sun!

But Heaven forbid that this should smack of "boosting"! (There, by the way, you have the most-used, and best-abused, word in all the West.) It is not so intended, for the literature of professional optimism is legion, and needs no reinforcement. The Oregon country is no more wedded to success than many another, nor is it a land where woman can wrestle with man's problems more happily than elsewhere. The incidents of these pages mean simply that beneath the dull surface may be found, ever and anon, a glow of something stirring; prick the dust, and blood may run.

The West, which is viewed here chiefly as a playland, is a mighty interesting workaday land, too, and numberless are the modern tragedies and comedies of its varied peoples at their varied[Pg 73] tasks. Rules and precedents are few and far between; it is each for himself in his own way. The blond Scandinavian to his logged-off lands, the Basque to his sheep herding; the man from Iowa dairies, and the Carolinian, who never before saw alfalfa, sets about raising it; the Connecticut Yankee, with an unconscionable instinct for wooden nutmegs, sells real estate; the college man with poor eyes or a damaged liver, as the case may be, becomes an orchardist at Hood River or Medford. Somehow, some place, there is room for each and every one, and the big Westland smiles and receives them all, the strong to prosper and the weak to fail, according to the inexorable way of life.

Some come for wealth and some for health—a vast army for the latter, were the truth always known. The highness and the dryness of the hinterland draw many to it in their battle against the White Plague, and while victory often comes, there comes, too, defeat.

An empty shack I know could tell such a tale—the tragedy of a good fight lost. They were consumptives, both of them, and they lived in a lowland city, west of the mountains. The Doctor gave the old, old edict: the only chance was to get[Pg 74] away from the damp, to live out of doors in a higher, sunnier climate. The boy—he was scarcely more than that—bade farewell to his sweetheart and came over the mountains, where he found land and built the shack that was to be their home and their haven—where they were to become sun-browned and robust. The self-evident conclusion outruns the tale, I fear. The girl, who smilingly sent her lover eastward, dreaming of the happiness so nearly theirs, was distanced in her race for the sunny goal by Death. To-day the shack stands vacant.

A valley of Washington. "The big Westland smiles and
receives them all"
A valley of Washington. "The big Westland smiles and receives them all"
From a photograph by Frank Palmer, Spokane, Wash.

A friend, who knew the girl and the story, and loves the land she hoped to see, wrote this to hearten her when the doctors realized that the home upon whose threshold she wavered was far, far distant from the one her lover fashioned "over the eastern mountains":

Over the eastern mountains
Into a valley I know,
Into the air of uplands,
Into the sun, you go.

Warm is a day in the upland;
Warm is the valley, and bright;
Glittering stars are shining
[Pg 75]Over the valley at night.

Here in the western lowland
Patiently I remain,
Under the clouds, in darkness,
Under the dismal rain.

Patient I wait, well knowing
The joy that is to be:
Into the east you're going
To build a home for me.

Rather would I go with you,
But, staying, I smile and sing,
For winter is almost over,
And soon will come the spring.

Then to the home you have made me,
Singing, still singing, I'll go
Over the eastern mountains
Into a valley I know.
[Pg 76]


CHAPTER VII

On Oregon Trails

T Shaniko I denied being a land seeker. Yet such I actually was, although seeking

Oregon, a land of plenty
Where one dollar grows to twenty

not because of the financial fruitfulness the verse implies, but rather because it was a land where outdoor pleasures are readily accessible. The logical outcome of land seeking is home making, and so in due course we became Oregonians; and now from our Oregon home we pilgrimage along the varied trails of the Pacific Playland, whose beginnings are but across our doormat, when fancy leads and the exchequer permits.

All of us read with envy of the "big trips," the splendid outings to the ends of the earth, made[Pg 77] by scientists and sportsmen, and those who are neither but possess the instincts, income, and the inclination. Simply because we cannot follow such examples is no reason to suppose they appeal to us less than to the fortunate adventurer de luxe for whom African expeditioning, Labrador or Alaskan game trails, mountain scaling in Peru, or hunting along the Amazon are matters of every-year routine. Some day, we, too, hope for such mighty vacationing—when our ship comes in, or the baby gets big enough to be left behind, or the boss lengthens our vacation, as the case may be. But for the present there is a "when" or an "if" not to be ignored.

So we content ourselves with lesser adventures in contentment, which after all, for solid pleasureable happiness, are perhaps the best. And we who live in the Pacific Playland find mountain, forest and river, fish and game, to our hearts' content; with a modicum of enterprise it is no trick at all to devise trips worth taking, whether viewed from the standpoint of woodsman, mountaineer, hunter, or fisher, and all within a hundred miles of home.

Therein, indeed, lies the answer to this query,[Pg 78] which a transplanted Easterner hears ever and anon:

Why do you live in the West?

For when it comes right down to the truly important things of life, like fly-fishing, mountaineering, and canoeing, the Pacific Coast is a region of unsurpassed satisfaction. Out-of-doors is always on tap, and when the hackneyed call of the red gods comes, it is easily answered.

A trailside dip in a mountain lake A trailside dip in a mountain lake
"Sliding down snow-fields is fun, though chilly" "Sliding down snow-fields is fun, though chilly"

Adventures in contentment truly—the utter content of simplicity and isolation. Also, ventures in optimism, for where the trails wind mountainward there is just one place for the pessimist, and that is at home.

The infallible Mr. Webster defines success as "the prosperous termination of an enterprise." Mr. Webster is wrong, however, when it comes to camping, as my friend Mac and I recently demonstrated beyond possibility of argument. The prime object of the trip in question was game. We were out ten days and returned with no game; the venison we counted ours still roams the hills, and the grouse are sunning themselves—except the half-dozen the puppies ate! It came about in this wise. We started in sunshine and forthwith[Pg 79] encountered the business end of a storm, comprised, in about equal parts, of blizzard, tropical downpour, and tornado. It continued for four days, soaked and half-froze us, and swept the highlands clean of game, in preference for sheltered valleys, far away and inaccessible to us. We hunted persistently, however, and walked countless miles. Incidentally, we lost our horses, and spent one strenuous day tracking them. Finally Fortune relented a trifle and we bagged a half-dozen grouse, which we treasured and bore homeward for our family tables. But a persistently unkind fate elected that we sleep beside a forest ranger's cabin where also reposed a litter of spaniel puppies, who forced an entrance to our packs in the night and devoured every vestige of grouse except a few of the less nutritious feathers.

Assuredly that enterprise had no prosperous termination; yet, somehow, in the illogical way of the woods it seemed to us a success—we had enjoyed it so!

After all, camping is a queer game, totally inexplicable to the uninitiated. As with some kinds of sinning, the more you do the more you desire. Assuredly it is a madness—a species of midsummer[Pg 80] madness, in whose throes the sufferer renounces most of the comforts of civilization, assuming instead all the discomforts of the wilderness. These campers are lovers of the Open, and like lovers the world over, there is no reason in them. In the wooing season they hie in pursuit of their beckoning mistress, who permits closest approach, seemingly, where the trails are the least trodden, the timber the tallest, and the mountains the mightiest.

On the trail in the highlands of the Cascades On the trail in the highlands of the Cascades
"A sky blue lake set like a sapphire in an emerald
mount" "A sky blue lake set like a sapphire in an emerald mount"

There are many delightful methods of taking such pilgrimages, but none more alluring than a-horseback, with all one's worldly goods lashed to the back of a pack-horse, so that freedom of movement is limited only by one's will and one's woodcraft.

Typical of western mountain lakes is Cultas, which nestles on the eastern flanks of the Cascades not far from the summit. A wooded mountain of its own name rises from its southern rim, and elsewhere it is bordered by sandy strands as white as Cape Cod beaches, by stretches of marsh and meadow and by higher banks studded with giant pines, whose trunks nature painted golden copper and the sun burnishes each day. There we cast adrift from civilization; the trail ended and[Pg 81] our riding horses took to the water at the lakeside, knee-deep wading over round, slippery rocks being preferable to battling through the thickets of lodgepole pine which cluttered the bank.

A lake of trout and sky-blue water is Cultas, where the leisurely may pitch permanent camp to their hearts' content, and revel in the luxuries of perfect outdoor loafing, tempered to suit the taste with fly-casting excursions 'round on rafts, and hunting tramps through the timber, where one need go no great way to spy the tracks of deer and occasional bear, or surprise grouse perched fatally low. Further westerly, though, the grouse-shooting is better, and an average rifle-shot can bag a plenty of the big fat birds in September. Poor grouse! "The good die first," said Wordsworth, and so with birds; for the good are the fat, who, through an excess of avoirdupois, lag in flight and alight on lower branches and are easiest shot.

From Cultas there was no trail other than such a one as mother sense advised and the compass indicated was properly directioned. Our objective point was the north and south trail reputed to follow the summit of the Cascade Range, up[Pg 82] whose eastern flanks we were laboring. Finally we found it, though of trail worthy of the name there was none; a scattered line of aged blazes alone indicated where the trail itself once had been. With some floundering over down logs, many a false start and mistaken way, and a deal of patient diligence, we contrived to hold to the blazes, winding beneath a fairy forest of giant fir, tamarack, spruce, and pine, here and there skirting a veritable gem of a sky-blue lake set like a sapphire in an emerald mount, and occasionally tracking across a gay little mountain meadow, until at last we hunted out tiny Link Lake, where we camped beneath trees whose trunks were streaked with age wrinkles long before Astor pioneered his way down the Columbia.

And so it went for several days; there were miles of pleasant trails, each mile unlike its predecessor and each holding in store some of those always expected unforeseen surprises which make trails, fly-fishing, and (reportedly) matrimony, so fascinating. There were camp places by lake, stream, and meadow, each and every one delightful, all entirely attractive either by the glow of the camp-fire or viewed in the dawn light as one peered out[Pg 83] from the frosted rim of the sleeping-bag—frosted without, but deliciously warm within. Trails and camps, indeed, so satisfying that any one of them might merit weeks of visitation, instead of hurried hours.

A word concerning trails, here—offered with the diffidence of an ardent amateur! Primarily, I suppose, trails are made to be followed; that, at least, seems the logical excuse for their existence. Yet my advice is to lose them as speedily as possible—temporarily, at least. So long as there is grass and water (there is always fuel, and your food is with you) no harm can befall, and assuredly losing the trail, or letting it lose you, is an admirable way to drop formality and get on an intimate footing with the country traversed. One method is like rushing along the highways of a strange land in an auto; the other approximates a leisurely following of the byways on your own two feet. The comparison is overdone, no doubt, but it has the virtue of fundamental truth.

People who "never lose the trail" and always proceed on schedule are to be regarded with suspicion and pity; suspicion because they probably prevaricate, and pity because they don't know[Pg 84] what they miss! A schedule should be left behind, in the world of business appointments, time-tables, and other regrettable impedimenta of civilization. So long as you know when mealtime comes, to plan further is folly.

The trails are not all dry-shod The trails are not all dry-shod
"Our trail wound beneath a fairy forest" "Our trail wound beneath a fairy forest"

Maps, also, are not to be taken over-seriously, or followed too religiously. Despite their neat lines, and scale of miles and inherent air of authority, they are deceivers ever, and apt to prove hollow delusions and snares when given the acid test of implicit confidence. Sometimes only annoyance results, but occasionally the outcome of misplaced trust is serious.

Every one who has been above the snow line, under his or her own power, so to speak, understands that there is no satisfaction quite like that of getting to the top of a mountain. The most leisurely and unambitious mortal, once he finds the 500-foot contour lines slipping away behind him, acquires something of the true mountaineering itch. We inherited that itch from previous attacks of the mountain malady. So standing knee-deep in the rank grass of the Sparks Lake prairies, and seeing the snow fields crowding down close to us, seemingly just behind the timber[Pg 85] which fringed our meadow camping place, we realized full well that to-morrow's work held for us some five thousand feet of climb.

Once, in Central America, I stood upon a peak whence were visible both the Atlantic and the Pacific. Again, in western Washington, from the summit of Mt. Olympus, I have seen the silver waters of Puget Sound to the east and the Pacific Ocean westward. From the South Sister we saw no ocean—no water other than the myriad lakes nestling broadcast among the foothills. No water, but two seas—eastward a brown sea of sagebrush and grain lands, the plateau of Central Oregon, and westward the billowing sea of smoky Willamette Valley lowlands, blue and hazy and softly tinted as any soberer canvas of the color-master Turner. Two vast panoramas of land reaching to the horizon, the one bounded by the truly blue Blue Mountains that marked the whereabouts of Idaho, the other by the low cloud banks hovering over the coast hills flanking the Pacific—those we gazed down upon to the east and west, while north and south straggled the great ridge of the Cascade Range, cleaving the old Oregon country into two astonishingly dissimilar halves.[Pg 86]

An Oregon Trail
An Oregon Trail
From a photograph by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.

South we glimpsed the pride of California's mountains, glorious Shasta. North, a filmy white spectre, harassed by a turmoil of darker cloud, was the peak of Mt. Adams, some two hundred and fifty miles distant. Nearer—yet scarcely close at hand, for almost two hundred miles separated us—stood Hood, guardian of the Columbia, whose valley could be guessed by the shadowed depressions in the hill lands. Nearer were Jefferson, Squaw Mountain, Broken Top, and lesser peaks. As mountain views go, it was perfection—and all mountain views are perfect.

We ate our snack of lunch, drank our canteen dry, smoked our pipes, and reveled in viewing the world below us. Then, like the hackneyed army of the Duke of York, we marched right down again. Only be it noted that the descent was a marvel of rapid transit, especially where the long snow slopes were concerned. If you have done it, you know. If you haven't, suffice it to say that one sits upon a portion of one's architecture designed for general repose, and upon it slides to lower altitudes with a speed that often takes breath away and always materially dampens that afore-mentioned anatomical por[Pg 87]tion, if not one's ardor. Snow sliding, however negotiated, is exhilarating and great fun—even if the slider becomes tangled with the attraction of gravitation, completing his descent head foremost!

At dusk, we reached the camp, with tired legs and a mighty hunger. It was late—too late to attempt much in the way of an elaborate meal, even as "elaborateness" is reckoned when you have been on the trail for a fortnight. So we compromised on a "light" repast, which included, if I remember aright, such infinitesimal items as a couple of quarts of coffee, a panful of bacon, a can of peaches, a package of raisins, and sundry other lesser matters.

"To-morrow," we agreed, "we will have a feed. A real feed, worthy of the name. A feed that will go down in campers' history. A feed, in short, that will make us feel that we have been FED."

With that resolution we set to work. It was tiresome and sleepy work, to be sure, but thorough for all that. It was, indeed, as if we made our gastronomic will before ending the trip, for ere we clambered into our blankets the pride of the[Pg 88] larder, the best of what was left in the pack-saddles, was placed in our biggest pot.

It was to be a mulligan—a mighty mulligan. In it there were venison, ham, bacon, potatoes, onions, a dash of corn, a taste of tomatoes, remnants of bannocks, some persistent beans, and a handful of rice; it was freckled with raisins and seasoned to the king's taste. Almost devoutly we laid it to rest, placing the big pot upon the fire and reinforcing the dying blaze with lasting knots. Then, with contented sighs, we dove into sleeping-bags and blankets, and forthwith passed into the land of dream-mountains, where one coasted for eons down comfortably warm snow slopes, and venison mulligan flowed in the streams instead of water.

Alas for dreams! Like the proverbial worm, the log turned—and with it the pot, bottom up. In the wee small hours the sound of sizzling ashes waked us, and we roused to discover the fragrant juices of our precious mulligan oozing into the hungry ground.

Tragedy? Truly yes; a sad, sad campers' tragedy. But what could we do? It avails nothing to cry over spilt mulligan. So once more[Pg 89] we nestled in the blankets and drifted off into the Land of Nod, dreaming sadly of wrecked mulligan and gladly of future excursions in the wondrous, pleasant mountain land of Oregon.[Pg 90]


CHAPTER VIII

Uncle Sam's Forests

NCE we reached a certain ranger station after sundown. It was the end of a long trail day, our horses were tired, we were fagged, and darkness was hard upon us. The only good grass in sight was the forty-acre fenced pasture surrounding the Forest Service cabin. So opening the gate we entered the forbidden land, unsaddled, and turned the horses lose.

Just as we had the fire started and the coffee boiling, up came the ranger, with a star on his shirt and an air of outraged authority about him. "You can't make camp here," said he. My partner had a legal turn of mind, and came back quickly with the observation that we had already done so.

"Well, you'll have to unmake it, then," continued Uncle Sam's representative. "This here isn't for campers; it's reserved for the Service."[Pg 91]

And thereafter, with considerable bluntness, he told us to "git," and quickly. Our arguments were in vain. The fact that it was dark, that we were played out, that there was no other horse feed near, availed not at all. With him it was no case for logic. Like a good and faithful servant he always came back to the beginning with the statement, "Them's the rules and I gotter enforce 'em."

But in the meantime the coffee boiled and the horses wandered farther from us. The ranger became exasperated.

"You're trespassing," he expostulated. "This is private property and——"

"Whose property?" My partner hit the nail on the head. But the ranger didn't see the rocks ahead.

"Property of the Forest Service, of course," said he.

"And who is the Forest Service?"

"Why, it's—it's—" the ranger stuttered a bit, seeking adequate explanation. "It's the Government, of course."

The ranger swelled with pride—after all, hadn't he demonstrated himself the representative of our omnipotent nation? But pride precedeth falls.[Pg 92]

"And who is the Government?" persisted my partner, as he poured his cup full of coffee from the battered pot.

But before an Armageddon of violence was reached I interrupted and dispelled the threatened storm. For as it happened we were privileged characters, of a sort, and our note from the District Supervisor extending the special courtesies of the Service turned the rising wrath of our ranger into the essence of hospitality. We never again heard of the rules from him.

However, my friend had expressed a monumental conclusion. Our pasture was the property of the Forest Service, the Service was a part of the Government, and the Government is of and for the people—us common people. Therefore that pasture was ours—Q.E.D.! Of course the principle doesn't work out in practice, because the Service, in the proper conduct of its affairs, must have strict property rights like any other organization or individual. But, broadly speaking, that is the truth of the matter. And in justice to the new spirit of the Forest Service, and the aims and methods of its employees of to-day, it is well to state that the ranger in question was of the old[Pg 93] school, which regarded its reserves as its own sacred property and operated somewhat on the antedated motto of some railroads of the past, "The public be damned."

For whatever one's feeling regarding the economic phase of national forests, from the casual camper's standpoint there is no doubt that their conduct to-day is admirable. Viewed from this angle they are great playgrounds, and as in Oregon alone the national forests embrace an astounding total of more than sixteen million acres, their importance to the recreationist is evident. On the doors of the ranger stations are signs which read: "Property of the United States. For the use of officers of the Forest Service." Leaving off the trespass warning which concludes the text of the cloth notices, one might change the other sentence thus: "For the use of whomever enjoys out-of-doors"; then you would have the meaning of the Western forest reserves in a nutshell, so far as campers are concerned.

If you are a settler who unsuccessfully seeks "elimination" of a homestead on the ground that it is "more valuable for agricultural purposes than for timber," or a timber speculator, or even a mill[Pg 94] owner desirous of cheap logs, your enthusiasm for "conservation" may be a negligible quantity. Certainly if you are a vote-seeker you will damn it whenever opportunity affords, for that is politically fashionable, and always safe—unlike woman suffrage, prohibition, and tariff questions; conservation is an architectural phenomenon, for it is a fence with only one side in a West whose people consider themselves robbed of their heritage of natural wealth, which most of them are all for turning into dollars as fast as logging-roads and band-saws can contrive. "To-day for to-day; let the morrow care for itself," they say. But if you are merely a foolish camper, with a secret dread of the time when the old earth will be divested totally of her timber covering, you may actually be grateful for the manner in which the reserves are administered. Your playground is cared for and guarded and improved. Maps, often accurate, are obtainable. The trails are well blazed and well kept, and new trails and roads are constantly being installed for the double purpose of making the forests more accessible to the public and to simplify fire fighting.

For above all, of course, the great good work is[Pg 95] the ceaseless battle against fire—now far more one of prevention than of extinction. Visible and arresting signs of the fire-war are encountered everywhere—notices warning against the risks and losses of forest fires, exhortations on the criminal dangers of leaving camp-fires burning, reminders to the smokers about forgotten cigarettes. These, and a score more, stare the trail follower in the face at intervals upon his way, until hostility to the plundering fire god is so thoroughly drummed home as to become a sort of second nature.

The more frequented trails, as I have said, are plastered with fire warning signs. Once one of them all but broke up a contented camping trip, in this wise:

After a two days' ride in a driving rain storm and a night in wet blankets, we came to a deserted ranger station, and in it found a welcome refuge. Our blankets spread in a dry corner, we set to work upon a fire, just beyond the overhang of what had once been a porch roof.

That fire was a task! If we were soaked, the woods were wetter still, and everything normally inflammable seemed as water-logged as a dishrag. However, Mac fared forth with his double-[Pg 96]bitted axe, and in due course secured some near-dry chips from the sheltered side of a dead tree. However, the chips showed no overweening desire to ignite, despite Mac's most tender efforts. The rain beat on his face, mud plastered his knees, water from the shake roof trickled down his neck, and matches and temper approached exhaustion while he struggled coaxingly with the stubborn fire god.

"Packing Up" at a Deserted Ranger Station "Packing Up" at a Deserted Ranger Station
Using the Forest Fire Telephone at a Ranger Station Using the Forest Fire Telephone at a Ranger Station

On a tree just behind the would-be fire maker was a Forest Service sign, whose large letters read: "Beware of Setting Fires!" Glancing up from Mac at his sodden task to that sign a latent sense of humor somewhere within my damp person overbalanced discretion, and I burst into uproarious laughter.

Somehow Mac took my levity quite to heart.

"Well," said he—or something with the same number of letters—"if you think you can make this dodgasted fire burn better'n I can, come out and try—the water's fine."

There were embellishments, too, not fit to print in a modest book, regarding a loafer who would hang back in the dry places while the only intelligent member of the party, etc. But[Pg 97] when he saw the sign even irate Mac had to laugh, too.

"Whoever posted that warning," said he, "ought to be compelled to come in September and try to set a fire hereabout! He'll get a medal for incendiarism if he succeeds!"

At all events the National Forests occupy an all-important place in the Pacific Playland, if mountains and woods figure at all in your itinerary. The Californian Sierras are in the "reserves," as are the Cascades and much of the coast mountains of Oregon and Washington. There are countless other outing places in the three States, of course, for many prefer the automobile to the pack-horse, and the beach to the highlands, and for such, the road maps of the automobile associations and the shore line of the Pacific open an endless field of pleasure.

In hunting and fishing, too, the sportsman need not confine himself to the mountain regions, and whether the hunter use gun or camera there are regions throughout the three States where his rewards for patient diligence will be ample. Ducks and geese abound, from the Sacramento marshes to the sloughs of the Columbia and the myriad[Pg 98] shooting grounds of Puget Sound, and there are deer and bear and occasionally a cougar or cat scattered through the hills. Coyotes roam the sagebrush plains, devastating neighbors to the sage hens and rabbits, grouse lurk in the timbered foothills, and gay Chinese pheasants are prospering—where they have been "planted" by the State game authorities.

With all the rivers, and all the lakes, of the three States to choose from, it would be folly to list any special ones of marked piscatorial virtue, even if one were able where superlatives are appropriate in describing so many. Suffice to say that from actual experience I know that there are streams in the Sierras, in the Oregon Cascades, and in the Olympics of Washington whose very contemplation would make Izaak Walton long for reincarnation. Back East—in New Brunswick and Cape Breton, for instance—one often catches as many and as large trout, and sometimes more and larger, than in the Western streams. But after all, the fish are a small part of the fishing. The tame sameness of the surroundings of the down-east waters compares ill with the theatrical bigness and infinite variety of setting of most of[Pg 99] the Western rivers, where half the delight is the recurring glimpses of snowy peaks and the majestic companionship of colossal trees.

Beside a little lake not far from the summit of the Cascades is a small cabin. It is squatty in appearance and strongly constructed, but has neither the earmarks of a ranger's station nor of a trapper's winter home. A few yards away, where a little creek enters the lake, a rather elaborate dam adds to the mystery.

"It's a fish station," explained Mac cryptically.

Later I heard arrangements made for the transportation of half a ton of grub to the cabin—a matter of fifty miles of wagon haul, twelve by pack-horse, and five by boat. The supplies were to be brought in before the snows came in the Fall, and buried beside the cabin so that the canned stuff and the potatoes would not freeze. Then the occupants who were to eat the rations would put in their appearance about April 1st, when the trails were hidden beneath many feet of snow and packing would be nearly an impossibility.

For the cabin represented the first link in the work of trout propagation, as conducted by the State Fish and Game Commission. Two experts go[Pg 100] to it when the first spring thaws attack the drifts and the little creek grows restless beneath its winter quilt of snow and ice. The first year they waited too long, and when they came and built their dam the female fish already had gone up the creek to lay their eggs. But this year they dared the rear-guard of winter, and arrived in time to trap hundreds of trout fat with roe. For six weeks they labor collecting the eggs which later are sent to the State hatchery at Bonneville to be hatched. Later the fingerlings are distributed where most needed throughout Oregon.

The fisherman who pays his license fee often enough knows next to nothing of the good work that is being done for him by those who aim not only to keep the streams from being "fished out," but also to improve the fishing. This cabin by the lakeside represents the start of the work, and bitter hard work some of it is, too.

An Oregon trout stream
An Oregon trout stream
From a photograph by Raymond, Moro, Ore.

The fish car, "Rainbow," with its load of cans filled with trout fry, reaches the railroad point selected for distribution. There the local warden has gathered a legion of volunteer automobiles in which the cans are rushed to the streams and lakes near by and their contents planted. That is the[Pg 101] easy simple "planting." The difficulties come when the streams or lakes are scores of miles from a railway or even a road, and the carrying must be done by pack-train. In 1912 and 1913, for instance, one hundred and sixteen lakes scattered throughout the Cascade Mountains were stocked; that is, waters suitable for trout culture but hitherto without fish were prepared for the fisherman of next summer, and an ever-increasing number of desirable fishing places provided. And in the cases numbered here, every can of fry used was carried many miles on pack-horses; one trip occupied eight days, and even then, thanks to many changes of water, out of ten thousand fry only fifty died!

Hunting is an out-of-door pursuit all to itself. The man who at home would lift a beetle from his garden walk rather than crush it becomes an ardent murderer when he camps. Probably there are no adequate apologies. And yet we all get the fever at some time or another, and taste the fascination of pitting our wits and woodcraft against the native cunning of the wild thing we stalk. Your ethical friend—who probably is a vegetarian to boot!—here at once objects. He says the con[Pg 102]test is cruelly uneven; that the odds of a high-powered rifle spoil the argument. Which, in a way, is quite true. But Heaven knows we would never taste venison or have bear rugs before our den fires if their capture was left to our naked hands!

However, this is dangerous ground, and most of us brush past it when vacation time comes, and take out our hunting license as automatically as we make up our order for corn-meal and bacon. From our rods we expect full creels, and hope for game from the guns.

"Any luck?"

That is the first question when you get home, and a negative answer implies defeat. Unless you get something, be prepared for the I-thought-as-much expression when your friend sympathizes with you. An incentive and a temptation it is—some of the worst of us and some of the best of us have nearly fallen (nearly, I say) and offered gold to a small boy with the basket which was full of fish when ours was empty. And the game laws—there, in truth, is where sportsmanship at times is forced into tight corners!

We had hunted deer for two solid, leg-wearying days. But the woods were very dry, and the deer[Pg 103] heard us long before we saw them, except for a doe or two, uncannily aware of the safety of their sex. On the morrow we hit the homeward trail, and were disconsolate at the prospect of a venisonless return.

Crackle!

Something moved in the thicket below me. Another stir and the "something" resolved itself into a deer. Up came the light carbine—the weapon par excellence for saddle trips—while I sighted across seventy yards of sunshine at the brown beast moving gracefully about, nipping at hanging moss and oblivious of danger.

But the carbine did not speak. Conscience and familiarity with the game laws battled for some thirty seconds with inclination and desire for venison. Then conscience won, and the doe continued her dainty feeding, undisturbed.

In days gone by, our copy-book mottoes told us that "Virtue is its own reward." As a general thing such automatic recompense is unsatisfactory, so when really first-class examples of more tangible returns for virtue arise, they deserve recording. And this was one of them. For no sooner had I formed the good resolve, and acted on it, venison[Pg 104] or no venison, than there came another soft crack-crackle of dry twigs, and a second brown animal appeared.

Bang!

The first shot hit just abaft the shoulder and the fine buck lay dead before he knew his plight.

And if that was not immediate reward for virtue, I defy explanation![Pg 105]


CHAPTER IX

A Canoe on the Deschutes

HERE are larger rivers than the Deschutes, and wilder, and some better for the canoe; many shelter more ducks, and a few more trout than does Oregon's "River of Falls." But if there are any more beautiful or varied I have yet to make their acquaintance.

The Columbia is, of course, a continental stream whose very mightiness prevents any adequate comprehension of its entity; it must be enjoyed by sections, in small potions. The Willamette is almost pastoral, a sterner Western edition of the English Thames, with a score of rollicking tributaries, rough as the mountains that breed them. The Sacramento, like linked sweetness, is long drawn out, and the boisterous brooks of the Sierras seem rather upland freshets than substantial rivers. Superlatives are risky tools on the Pacific Slope where they appear appropriate so often, but[Pg 106] even so, with no apologies to the Pitt, the Snake, the Williamson, the Rogue, and other neighbors, greater and lesser, the Deschutes appeals to me as the richest of them all in scenery and pleasurable attractions. From the snow banks of its birth to the Columbia I have played companion to its waters on horseback, in canoe, in automobile, driving, afoot, and on a train, and with familiarity has come no contempt, but ever-increasing admiration.

The Deschutes is a river of many rôles: it roars and rushes in white-watered cascades, it sparkles gently in a myriad rippling rapids, it is sedate as a mill pond; sometimes its banks are fields flanked with flowers, sometimes steep slopes with black pools below and great trees above, sometimes lined with alders or with the needle-carpeted forest marching out to the very water's edge. Such it is for the first hundred miles. Below, leaving the land of trees and meadows, it plunges for a second century of miles through a spectacular canyon, walled in by cliffs and abrupt hillsides, often rising almost sheer a thousand feet. "The Grand Canyon of the Northwest," those who know it call this stretch of the Deschutes. Above, billowing back from the rim, is a great golden-brown land of wheat[Pg 107] fields, with a marvelous mountain westerly skyline.

On the river's western flank, between it and the Cascade Range, is a playland of beautiful pine timber, crystal lakes, and mountained meadows, bounded on one hand by snow-capped peaks and on the other by the broad plains that sweep eastward to Idaho.

One August we foregathered in this happy hunting ground with our canoe and our grub, near the headwaters of the Deschutes, in the heart of a region of sunshine, mountain prairie, glorious trees, and laughing water. One hundred miles of liquid highway lay before us, and we envied no one.

Crane Prairie is a broad mountain meadow, hemmed in by timbered foothills that climb to the snow mountains, glimpsed here and there from the prairie land. The Deschutes divides into three streams, each meandering down from little lakes tucked away in the timber at the base of the snow slopes that feed them. All around the prairie is a delightful region intersected by trails, dotted with lakes and meadows; altogether a pleasant place for ramblings, either on foot or horseback, with fishing, hunting, and mountain climbing as tangible objectives.[Pg 108]

Canoeing and duck shooting may be combined on the
Deschutes Canoeing and duck shooting may be combined on the Deschutes
On a backwater of the Deschutes On a backwater of the Deschutes

The first stage of our outing was a stationary one, so far as the canoe was concerned, for a week was devoted to expeditioning here and there upon and around Crane Prairie. There was excellent fishing, and we saw just enough of the trails and the mountains to realize something of their possibilities.

Then one morning, before the sunlight had filtered over the hills and down through the pine boughs, we launched the Long Green, our canoe which had made the transcontinental trip from Oldtown, Maine, and started it upon a more venturesome, if less lengthy trip. Ours, by the way, was an equal suffrage outing. Its feminine better-half paddled as strenuously, cast a fly as optimistically, and "flipped" hot cakes as diligently as did the male member. Altogether, she demonstrated beyond a doubt that the enjoyment of an Oregon canoe trip need not depend upon one's sex or previous condition of servitude.

Comfortable canoeing is the most entirely satisfying method of travel extant. It is noiseless, it is easy, and there is enough uncertainty and risk about it to lend a special charm. Just as the best of fishing is the unknown possibility of the next cast—your biggest trout may rise to the fly!—so[Pg 109] it is when you drift down stream in a canoe, for every turn discloses a fresh vista and behind every bend lurks some rare surprise. It may be an unsuspected rapid, requiring prompt action; perhaps a tree has fallen across the river, necessitating a flanking portage or a hazardous scurry beneath it; mayhap a particularly inviting pool will appear, when one must "put on the brakes" and "full speed astern" ever so hastily before a fatal shadow spoils the fishing chances. There are other possibilities without number, some of them realities for us, as when we came face to face with a deer, to our vast mutual astonishment, or, quietly drifting down upon a madam duck and her fluffy feathered family, gave them all violent hysterics. The little birds were unable to fly, and the mother, who would not desert them and lacked courage to hide along the bank, herded her family down stream for many miles with heartbreaking squawks and much splashing of wings.

A portage is either one of the interesting events of a canoe trip or its most despised hardship, according to the disposition of those concerned—not to mention the length, breadth, and thickness of the portage itself! Regarded in its most pessi[Pg 110]mistic light, a portage is a necessary evil, and, like a burned bannock, is swallowed with good grace by the initiated. In Eastern Canada, the land of patois French, a portage is a portage. In Maine, and elsewhere, it is apt to be a "carry." West of the Rockies, one neither "portages" nor "carries," but "packs" the canoe, for on the Pacific Slope everything borne by man or beast is "packed," just as it is "toted" south of the Mason and Dixon line. But portage, carry, or pack, the results are the same. Reduced to their lowest equation, it usually means a sore back and a prodigious appetite—there should be a superlative for prodigious, as all camping appetites are that; dare one say "prodigiouser"?

Our hundred miles of river included but two portages of consequence, both around falls. Fortunately in each instance the packing was across a comparatively level stretch, free from underbrush, as is almost all of this great belt of yellow pine that follows the eastern slopes of the Cascades from the Columbia to California. There were minor carries, once over a low bridge, where the bands of sheep cross to the mountain summer ranges of the forest reserves, and several times an[Pg 111] easy haul, with canoe loaded, around the end of a fallen tree or crude forest ranger's bridge made of floating logs held together for the most part with baling wire.

Now and again the river was bordered by nature-made fields, knee-deep with flowers; there were purple lupin everywhere and vermilion Indian paint-brush, and a score of other gay blossoms. Often for the pleasure of tramping through this pretty outdoor garden, we would let the canoe follow its own sweet will at the end of a rope, while we walked down the bank, perhaps intimately investigating the households of beavers or casting a royal coachman along the shadowed water close beside the edge.

The special delight of camping, as anyone knows who has tried it, is that life all at once becomes so simple away from the high-pressure world of telephones, time-tables, dinner engagements, and other necessary evils. That is the essence of outing pleasure. The fishing, the canoeing, the hunting, climbing, or what-not are really relegated to obscurity in comparison with this one great boon. When our physical system runs down, we take medicine; when our mental system gets out of gear,[Pg 112] we crave a dose of the open, which means of simplicity.

Along the Deschutes, the "River of Falls." "It roars and rushes, in
white-watered Cascades"

Along the Deschutes, the "River of Falls." "It roars and rushes, in white-watered Cascades"
Copyright 1911 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.

A canoe trip is simplicity personified. In the first place, you are launched into the wide world of out-of-doors with your entire household, from dining table to bed, concentrated in a couple of bundles that repose amidships in the craft which is the beginning and the end of your transportation possibilities. The rest is "up to you." If you would get somewhere, it is necessary to paddle, always exercising due diligence to keep the craft right side up and escape fatal collisions with vexatious rocks and snags. In that department—locomotion—there is just enough active responsibility to keep it thoroughly worth while, and more than enough relaxation, as the current carries the canoe along with only now and then a guiding dip of the paddle, to make it all a most pleasurable loaf.

Every stopping place was a new experience, and, it should be said, each seemed even more beautiful than its predecessor.

"There's a bully place. See—there under the big pine."

With a stroke or two of the paddles the Long[Pg 113] Green arrived gently at the bank beneath that pine, and out would come the box of grub, the gunny sack of pots and frying pans, and the rolls of bedding. Then the canoe was drawn from the water, and, inverted, pressed into double service as a table and a rain shelter, in case of need. Our waterproof sleeping-bags were supposed to do as much for us, and on two occasions showers dampened our slumbers, if not our spirits.

The important work of camping, which is not work at all, but play, is in the commissary department. It has four stages: lighting the fire, cooking, eating, and cleaning up; the third is, by all odds, the most popular.

Concerning fire making, volumes have been written. It is quite possible to learn from these incendiary publications exactly how to prepare the proper, perfect kind of a fire under any and all circumstances. Study alone is required to master the art—on paper! But in reality, making a quick and satisfactory camp-fire, like creating frying-pan bread, is a subtle attainment that can be mastered only by practice. No two people agree; it is easier to start a dispute over the details of a camp-fire than about anything imaginable, not[Pg 114] even excepting the "best trout fly made"—and that, every fisherman knows, is a matter of piscatorial preference that has disrupted humanity since the days of Izaak Walton.

Camp cooking is another art. There, again, place not all thy faith in books, for they are deceivers when it comes to a bit of bacon, a frying pan, some corn-meal and flour, and a pinch of baking powder. The only satisfactory rule is to have as few ingredients as possible and to have plenty of them. Flour, corn-meal, bacon, dried apples, butter, hardtack, sugar, salt, coffee, baking powder, beans—those form the essential foundation. There is an endless list of edibles that may be added, which run the gastronomic gamut from molasses to canned corn. But the way to learn real camp cooking, and by all odds the best procedure for happiness in transportation, is to take a small variety and keep each article in a cloth bag, which insures few troublesome packages and no disastrous leaks.

"Cleanin' up" is no trick at all, when there is a river full of water a dozen feet from the fire, and it is simply a matter of two pots and two tin plates. There, indeed, the joys of camp life come home to[Pg 115] the feminine member of the expedition most forcibly of all.

"Isn't it heavenly! Only two plates to wash!" expressed the essence of her satisfaction.

Two plates to wash, two paddles to manipulate, two healthful, happy weeks of out-of-doors, all as enjoyable for a woman as for a man—that was our Deschutes River canoe trip. And there are a score or more of other Oregon outings as delightful.[Pg 116]


CHAPTER X

Olympus

N the hilly residential section of Tacoma is a studio-workshop. On a certain September morning its inward appearance indicated the recent passage of a tornado—a human tornado of homecoming after a long campaign of camping. From dunnage bags, scattered about the floor, showered sleeping-bags, ruck sacks, a nest of cook pots, "packs," the rubber shoes of the north country, belts, knives, ammunition, and a thousand and one odds and ends. In a corner was an oiled silk tent, the worse for wear. Elsewhere, a clutter of ice axes, snowshoes, glacier spikes, guns, photographs, and hides occupied the available space.

The room and its contents smacked of the regions that lie about the Arctic circle, and thence, indeed, they had just come. For Mine Host was barely back from Mt. McKinley and many months of venturesome exploration in Alaska.[Pg 117]

Next to watching the other fellow prepare his camping kit and discuss plans for the Big Trip, when you yourself are to stay at home, I think the most exasperating experience is to hear the good tales told by the man fresh returned from some thrilling expedition. As you listen to the story of the big untrodden places, the routine of your everyday life seems woefully petty, and you are all at once distracted with a mad resolve to go and do likewise. It is a dangerous symptom, and should be prescribed for immediately—though the only real remedy I know is to close one's eyes and ears and flee from the place of temptation. For this is the Wanderlust, the joyful plague of the sinner who has lost all count of time and ties in following some wilderness trail, and desires nothing more than to lose them again.

If McKinley and Alaska were out of reach, across Puget Sound lay a closer land of mountains and little-trodden trails. "Why not try Olympus?"

The suggestion was no sooner made than accepted. Before I entered the room six months of stay-at-home was my unquestioned outlook, but all at once a hike to Olympus appeared the most reasonable thing in the world.[Pg 118]

"Canoeing is the most satisfactory method of travel
extant" "Canoeing is the most satisfactory method of travel extant"
The pack train above timber line
The pack train above timber line
From a photo by Belmore Browne

Mine Host, upon whom the blame rests, was out of the running, for he started East the next day. But his companion, the Mountain Climber, although scarcely yet with a taste of civilization after months in the wilderness, was in a receptive frame of mind. It took us two minutes to decide definitely upon the excursion. Twenty minutes more and we had picked outfits from the wealth of paraphernalia all about us, and at midnight we saw the lights of Seattle's water front vanish astern as a Sound steamer bore us toward Port Angeles on the Olympic peninsula.

At times on our journey the Mountain Climber reminded me that on his inland voyaging Stevenson traveled with a donkey. Inasmuch as our pack animal was a horse, that rather hurt my feelings; the inference was so obvious. However, that horse was more than half mule, so far as disposition is concerned. We hired him at Port Angeles and Billy was his name.

"And when I walk, I always walk with Billy,
For Billy knows just how to walk,"

chanted the Mountain Climber as we started out blithely. But long ere we crossed the divide[Pg 119] separating the town from the valley of the Elwha River we realized that if Billy knew how to walk he emphatically refused to put his knowledge into practice. For Billy was a stubborn loafer until it came to night time, when he bent his pent-up energy to getting as far from camp as possible between dusk and sun-up.

There are three distinct methods of travel on the trail. You may ride horses and carry your supplies on a pack-horse. You may walk and let the pack animal do the burden bearing. Or you may be a host unto yourself and bear your entire household on your back, with your own legs supplying locomotion. On this trip we chose the middle course, and walked, while Billy was our common carrier. Back packing is a strenuous undertaking where many miles are to be covered, and yet a superfluity of horses is a nuisance if the going is rough and instead of gaining speed with many animals you actually lose it. So it seemed to us the best way was to go afoot, with a single pack-horse.

The brawling Elwha was our guide to Olympus, for its headwaters spring almost from the base of the mountain, and our trail wandered up the bank of the stream until, perhaps a dozen miles beyond[Pg 120] our departure point from the highroad, we came to an appetizing meadow, and the pleasantest mountain home imaginable.

It was the log house of the "Humes Boys," who seem as much of an institution in the Olympics as the mountains themselves. Bred in the Adirondacks the Humes migrated westward and hit upon this isolated homestead in the corner of Washington, where a growing influx of hunters and fishermen finds them out and they are kept busy during the summer months as guides and packers to the many vacationists who know them and their knowledge of the surrounding regions. In the winter they trap and—I imagine from the evident tastes of Grant Humes—read good books on out-of-door subjects, close to the glowing stove, while the winds whistle up and down the valley and the snow piles high. Gardeners, too, they are in a modest way, raising all their vegetables. And cooks! What cooks! In years gone by some pioneer settler had planted plum trees, and when we first saw Grant Humes no housewife was busier with jelly-making than he.

"It's a bother now, and I don't suppose I enjoy it more than any other man likes such work,"[Pg 121] said he. "But when we're here in January and February, pretty well shut off from the world, and there's a great sameness about the food, I tell you a hundred glasses of plum jelly look almighty good—not to mention tasting!"

I can vouch for the taste of it in September; if the midwinter season improves the flavor I'm in a most receptive mood for a Christmas invitation to the cabin on the Elwha!

For those who have the right sort of taste, existence such as the Humes's must seem quite Utopian. Their garden and their rifles, supplemented by importations from the store "down below," feed them; their meadows supply hay for their stock; fuel of course is everywhere, and a little captivated stream brought to the house in a hand-hewed flume supplies an icy approximation of "running water." Hemming in the meadowland oasis are giant hills, their neighboring flanks hidden by mighty timber, their summits gray and brown beneath mantles of brush and berry, closing in the valley so resolutely that its hours of sunlight are almost as meager as in the cavernous fjord lands of Norway.

After Humes's the trail wound through abysmal[Pg 122] forest depths, skirting fir and pine and cedar of unbelievable girth, or making irksome detours where some fallen monarch blocked the way. Needles and ferns there were underfoot, a drapery of moss overhead, and everywhere a penetrating silence. The most silent woods imaginable are those of the wet coast country, where the trees are enormous and set close together, thickets and ferns clutter the ground beneath them, and moss clings to the lower limbs; sunlight, if not a total stranger, at best is but an itinerant acquaintance.

When the whim seized it the fickle trail deserted one bank of the Elwha for the other, one of us leading Billy across while his companion, in vain effort to keep dry-shod, essayed perilous crossings on logs, often as not resulting in disaster.

Toward evening of the fourth day we dragged Billy up a final hill. Except for scattered and weather-beaten blazes, all vestiges of the trail had vanished, and, in fact, Grant Humes had told us that no one had been that way for two years, a fact testified by fallen trees and the unrepaired destruction of spring freshets. Hidden at the base of giant Douglas firs was all that remained of the Elwha, now scarcely more than a brook, its[Pg 123] waters opaquely white with the silt of glaciers close at hand. Suddenly we emerged upon a hillock and below us lay Elwha Basin, where the river has its birth.

A cup, carpeted with grass, walled with crags; an amphitheater studded with trees, hemmed in by banks of snow, and roofed by blue sky—such is the basin of the Elwha. At the far end is a wall of rock, over which tumbles the jolly little infant river in a silvery cascade, and beyond is a snow bank jutting into the greenery of an upper meadow. From a dark cave at the glacial snowbank's base the river seemed to have its start, though beyond the snow, from still loftier cliffs, fluttered another ribbon of water coming from unseen heights beyond. Westerly a few jagged snow peaks peered down upon us over the nearer cliffs, and great shadows reached across the pleasant valley to the very base of our little hill of vantage.

At the near end of the basin we found a wonderful camp place all prepared by our thoughtful nature hostess. It was a cave at the foot of a cliff, whose ceiling of overhanging rock protected admirably against the vagaries of the elements, while wood and water were close at hand, and[Pg 124] ferns and flowers made Elysian setting. We turned Billy loose in the knee-high grass, where he spent a week of loafing, unable, for once, to escape, thanks to the cliffs and a back trail easily blocked by felling a few small trees. Happily, then, we sprawled upon our blankets, with the sweet-smelling spruce boughs beneath us and the warm light of the fire playing odd pranks with the dancing shadows in our rock-roofed resting place. Beyond the ghostly circle of the firelight were the jet outlines of trees, and, farther, reaching up to a million stars, the mountains. And beyond those mountains lay Olympus, for whom we had come so far and now must go still farther.

The few unessentials of our commissary we left at the cave, and with grub for five days and bedding on our backs, and the ice axes in our hands, like the bear of the song, we started over the mountain to see what we could see.

A steep snow chute called the Dodwell and Rickson Pass was our way of passage over the divide to the Queets Basin, where the river of that name commenced its journey to the Pacific, while behind us the melting snows that formed the Elwha found outlet eastward in Puget Sound. As[Pg 125] we trudged up the steep slopes of the Pass it was soon apparent that other travelers beside ourselves used the snowy route, for broad tracks showed where bruin on his own broad bottom had coasted down the incline but a few hours previously, a recreation youthful bears seem to enjoy about as thoroughly as men cubs. There was indeed a goodly population of bear in the upper regions of the Queets, and the hide of one of them is at my fireside now. It would have been no trick at all to kill several, for we saw them daily foraging among the blueberry uplands, with their pink tongues snaking out first on one side, then on the other, garnering in the fruit from the low bushes. But we could pack only one skin, so we left the others warming their owners, where they most properly belonged.

Queets Basin is a rough mountain valley, covered for the most part only with berry bushes, and with rocky gorges cutting its surface where the river's several branches had worn away deep courses. Overshadowing the basin were the outposts of Olympus itself, with the snout of Humes's glacier thrusting its icy seracs almost into the berry land, and the pinnacled peaks behind rising[Pg 126] majestically against the northern skyline. Westward, the roaring Queets vanished down a canyon, through a country of the roughest kind, and, we were told, one hitherto unexplored. A journey to the sea following the white-watered Queets would be a worth-while experience, we thought, seeing the first mile of it; but like many another, the Mountain Climber and I, unless we live to the age of Methuselah and devote all our years to outings, will never be able to take one half the trips we have planned and secretly long for; exclusive of our cherished ramble down the Queets!

The packs slipped from our backs at the base of a giant fir, and we called it camp. Next to the bear who almost thrust his nose into my bed next morning, my most vivid recollection of that camp was the blueberry bread we concocted in the frying-pan, which was fit for the very gods of old Olympus.

Then we climbed Olympus.

Coming on the heels of Mt. McKinley, it was no great feat of mountaineering for the Mountain Climber, but nevertheless it combined happily all the varied attractions of climbing. The ascent of Olympus does, indeed, entail almost every sort of mountaineering, and some of it reasonably[Pg 127] difficult and dangerous. In the first place, the approach to the mountain is perhaps its crowning feature; it is a man's sized trip to get within striking distance, and to its inaccessibility is due the fact that up to 1907 it was unscaled. When once reached, there are goodly glaciers to be conquered, vast snow fields to be negotiated, some hard ice work, and a lot of stiff climbing, all at long range from the nearest practical base camp.

By daybreak we were under way. Through bushes, across a ravine, up a narrow tongue of snow in a "chimney," and then over a shoulder of rock débris, an outshoot of the lower lateral moraine of the Humes's glacier, and we found ourselves on the seracs of the glacier's snout, with no choice but to take to them. By the time we had found a way over the broken green ice, with its sudden chasms, the sun was warm at our backs and the chill of the dawn was forgotten. Then we emerged from the ice hummocks which mightily resembled a storm-tossed sea suddenly petrified, and commenced the leg-wearying ascent of the long snow field above, which clothed the glacier and stretched toward a rim of dark cliffs, the summit of the divide between us and Olympus[Pg 128] proper. Toward the lowest saddle in this rocky wall we set our course.

"The Humes glacier, over which we went to Mount Olympus" "The Humes glacier, over which we went to Mount Olympus"
"Our nature-made camp in Elwha basin" "Our nature-made camp in Elwha basin"

From the top of this new divide we gazed upon the clustering peaks of Olympus across the huge glacier of the Hoh River. Jagged peaks they were, half-clothed, at times, with clouds, their ragged rocky pinnacles showing black in contrast to the dazzling fields of snow which stretched away below us as in some Arctic scene.

Getting down to the Hoh glacier proved difficult work, nearly every foothold of the descent being cut with our axes in the steep ice wall down which we worked, while yawning crevasses below our course were distinctly unpleasant reminders of what might happen should the leader slip and the rope man be insecurely anchored with his ice axe.

Then a mile up steep snow slopes, and detours around the base of lesser piles of rock rising almost perpendicularly from the floor of snow, and we were at the foot of the final climb. A last wild scramble up a chimney, the way made risky by slipping stones and treacherously rotten rock, a tug of the rope, a helping hand, and we were on the summit of Olympus!

From no peak that either of us had ever climbed,[Pg 129] in the Pacific Playland, Alaska, or Northern Europe, had we looked upon more picturesquely rugged, varied, or altogether fascinating mountain scenery. Olympus stands at the dividing of the ways of a half-dozen watersheds, and from its summit one sees canyons radiating in all directions from the glaciers that cluster on its flanks and those of its lesser neighbors, in whose depths are growing streams that rush away to Puget Sound and the Pacific. All about, west, northeast, and south, are snow-clad, saw-tooth peaks, lined with glaciers. Billowing over these wild summits and hiding them each in turn, were wondrously tinted cloud banks, whose overhanging effects of light and shadow, and freakish alteration of the view made of the broad panorama a titanic kaleidoscope.

For an hour we sat there, our sweaters about us, munching raisins and reveling in the scenic wonders of the world below us. From a metal tube, well protected in a rock monument, we took and read the records of previous climbers, left since the first ascent in 1907. And then, after the habit of our kind, we added the story of our own expedition to the others and started on the homeward trail toward our cave and patient Billy.[Pg 130]


CHAPTER XI

"The God Mountain of Puget Sound"

ESS than fifty years ago what is now Seattle numbered scarce a thousand inhabitants, and the present city of Tacoma was a cluster of shacks about a sawmill. Puget Sound, to-day a highway of commerce, was an almost unknown inland sea, its waters furrowed only by the prows of Indian canoes.

But for centuries beyond number the great mountain of Puget Sound has been as it is to-day, the mountain beautiful, dominating all the Sound country. In Seattle its name is Rainier, and Tacoma insists the city's title is the mountain's as well. Call it what you will to-day, yesterday, in the talk of the Indian fishers of Whulge, it was known as Tacoma, a word generically applied to snow mountains.

No truly great mountain in America is as readily[Pg 131] accessible and as widely enjoyed as Tacoma-Rainier. To Seattle and Tacoma it is an ever-present companion, and all the Puget Sound country basks in its shadow. A most excellent automobile road winds through its forests up to the snow fields, the only highway on this continent which actually reaches a living glacier. Railroads go close to the mountain, and a delightful hotel and several camps supply every inducement and comfort for luxurious stays in close proximity to the final peak. From these places as headquarters one may make countless excursions round about the mountain, over magnificently beautiful trails, seeing its glaciers, its forests, its flowers, and its surpassing views, and there are always guides ready to lead the way to the top, an ascent which offers all the thrills and most of the experiences of the most arduous mountaineering in the Alps. In short, there is an almost limitless field of recreation round about Tacoma-Rainier, and it is but for you to choose the mode of your enjoyment.

Seeing this "Mountain that was God," and climbing it, are matters of almost normal routine to the residents of the Puget Sound country and the visitors to its sister cities. It is the accepted[Pg 132] thing to do—and one supremely worth while—but to add another account of an ascent of Tacoma-Rainier, or detailed description of its wonders, to the many already in print, would be indeed carrying coals to Newcastle.

The "God Mountain" of Puget Sound

Copyright 1910 by L. G. Linkletter The "God Mountain" of Puget Sound Copyright 1910 by L. G. Linkletter

So, recommending you to the several excellent books on the subject, instead of essaying further description of the mountain to-day I'll venture to repeat what appeals to me as the best of the many Indian legends relating to it. The wording of the story is that of Theodore Winthrop, in his book The Canoe and Saddle, from which in a previous chapter I borrowed the delightful legend of the Dalles.

The story, says Winthrop, was told to him by Hamitchou at Nisqually, presumably about 1860, and here is his interpretation:

"Avarice, O Boston Tyee," quoth Hamitchou, studying me with dusky eyes, "is a mighty passion. Now, be it known unto thee that we Indians anciently used not metals nor the money of you blanketeers. Our circulating medium was shells,—wampum you would name it. Of all wampum, the most precious is Hiaqua. Hiaqua comes from the far north. It is a small, perforated shell, not unlike a very opaque quill toothpick, tapering from the middle, and cut square at both ends. We string it in many strands, and hang[Pg 133] it around the neck of one we love—namely, each man his own neck. We also buy with it what our hearts desire. He who has most hiaqua is best and wisest and happiest of all the northern Hiada and of all the people of Whulge. The mountain horsemen value it; the braves of the terrible Blackfeet have been known, in the good old days, to come over and offer a horse or a wife for a bunch of fifty hiaqua.

"Now, once upon a time there dwelt where this fort of Nisqually now stands a wise old man of the Squallyamish. He was a great fisherman and a great hunter; and the wiser he grew, much the wiser he thought himself. When he had grown very wise, he used to stay apart from every other Siwash. Companionable salmon-boilings round a common pot had no charms for him. 'Feasting was wasteful,' he said, 'and revelers would come to want,' and when they verified his prophecy, and were full of hunger and empty of salmon, he came out of his hermitage and had salmon to sell.

"Hiaqua was the pay he always demanded; and as he was a very wise old man, and knew all the tideways of Whulge, and all the enticing ripples and placid spots of repose in every river where fish might dash or delay, he was sure to have salmon when others wanted, and thus bagged largely of its precious equivalent, hiaqua.

"Not only a mighty fisher was the sage, but a mighty hunter, and elk, the greatest animal of the woods, was the game he loved. Well had he studied every trail where elk leave the print of their hoofs, and where, tossing their heads, they bend the tender twigs. Well[Pg 134] had he searched through the broad forest, and found the long-haired prairies where elk feed luxuriously; and there, from behind palisade fir-trees, he had launched the fatal arrow. Sometimes, also, he lay beside a pool of sweetest water, revealed to him by gemmy reflections of sunshine gleaming through the woods, until at noon the elk came down, to find death awaiting him as he stooped and drank. Or beside the same fountain the old man watched at night, drowsily starting at every crackling branch, until, when the moon was high, and her illumination declared the pearly water, elk dashed forth incautious into the glade, and met their midnight destiny.

"Elk-meat, too, he sold to his tribe. This brought him pelf, but, alas, for his greed, the pelf came slowly. Waters and woods were rich in game. All the Squallyamish were hunters and fishers, though none so skilled as he. They were rarely absolutely in want, and, when they came to him for supplies, they were far too poor in hiaqua.

"So the old man thought deeply, and communed with his wisdom, and, while he waited for fish or beast, he took advice within himself from his demon—he talked with Tamanous. And always the question was, 'How may I put hiaqua in my purse?'

"Tamanous never revealed to him that far to the north, beyond the waters of Whulge, are tribes with their under lip pierced with a fish-bone, among whom hiaqua is plenty as salmonberries are in the woods that time in midsummer salmon fin it along the reaches of Whulge.[Pg 135]

"But the more Tamanous did not reveal to him these mysteries of nature, the more he kept dreamily prying into his own mind, endeavoring to devise some scheme by which he might discover a treasure-trove of the beloved shell. His life seemed wasted in the patient, frugal industry, which only brought slow, meager gains. He wanted the splendid elation of vast wealth and the excitement of sudden wealth. His own peculiar tamanous was the elk. Elk was also his totem, the cognizance of his freemasonry with those of his own family, and their family friends in other tribes. Elk, therefore, were every way identified with his life; and he hunted them farther and farther up through the forests on the flanks of Tacoma, hoping that some day his tamanous would speak in the dying groan of one of them, and gasp out the secret of the mines of hiaqua, his heart's desire.

"Tacoma was so white and glittering, that it seemed to stare at him very terribly and mockingly, and to know his shameful avarice, and how it led him to take from starving women their cherished lip and nose jewels of hiaqua, and to give them in return only tough scraps of dried elk-meat and salmon. When men are shabby, mean, and grasping, they feel reproached for their groveling lives by the unearthliness of nature's beautiful objects, and they hate flowers and sunsets, mountains and the quiet stars of heaven.

"Nevertheless," continued Hamitchou, "this wise old fool of my legend went on stalking elk along the sides of Tacoma, ever dreaming of wealth. And at last, as he was hunting near the snows one day, one[Pg 136] very clear and beautiful day of late summer, when sunlight was magically disclosing far distances, and making all nature supernaturally visible and proximate, Tamanous began to work in the soul of the miser.

"'Are you brave?' whispered Tamanous in the strange, ringing, dull, silent thunder-tones of a demon voice. 'Dare you go to the caves where my treasures are hid?'

"'I dare,' said the miser.

"He did not know that his lips had syllabled a reply. He did not even hear his own words. But all the place had become suddenly vocal with echoes. The great rock against which he leaned crashed forth, 'I dare.' Then all along through the forest, dashing from tree to tree and lost at last among the murmuring of breeze-shaken leaves, went careering his answer, taken up and repeated scornfully, 'I dare.' And after a silence, while the daring one trembled and would gladly have ventured to shout, for the companionship of his own voice, there came across from the vast snow wall of Tacoma a tone like the muffled threatening plunge of an avalanche into a chasm, 'I dare.'

"'You dare!' said Tamanous, enveloping him with a dread sense of an unseen, supernatural presence; 'you pray for wealth of hiaqua. Listen!'

"This injunction was hardly needed; the miser was listening with dull eyes kindled and starting. He was listening with every rusty hair separating from its unkempt mattedness, and outstanding upright, a caricature of an aureole.[Pg 137]

"'Listen,' said Tamanous, in the noonday hush. And then Tamanous vouchsafed at last the great secret of the hiaqua mines, while in terror near to death the miser heard, and every word of guidance toward the hidden treasure of the mountains seared itself into his soul ineffaceably.

"Silence came again more terrible now than the voice of Tamanous,—silence under the shadow of the great cliff,—silence deepening down the forest vistas,—silence filling the void up to the snows of Tacoma. All life and motion seemed paralyzed. At last Skai-ki, the Blue-Jay, the wise bird, foe to magic, sang cheerily overhead. Her song seemed to refresh again the honest laws of nature. The buzz of life stirred everywhere again, and the inspired miser rose and hastened home to prepare for his work.

"When Tamanous has put a great thought in a man's brain, has whispered him a great discovery within his power, or hinted at a great crime, that spiteful demon does not likewise suggest the means of accomplishment.

"The miser, therefore, must call upon his own skill to devise proper tools, and upon his own judgment to fix upon the most fitting time for carrying out his quest. Sending his squaw out to the kamas prairie, under pretense that now was the season for her to gather their store of that sickish-sweet esculent root, and that she might not have her squaw's curiosity aroused by seeing him at strange work, he began his preparations. He took a pair of enormous elk-horns, and fashioned from each horn a two-pronged pick or[Pg 138] spade, by removing all the antlers except the two topmost. He packed a good supply of kippered salmon, and filled his pouch with kinnikinnick for smoking in his black stone pipe. With his bows and arrows and his two elk-horn picks wrapped in buckskin hung at his back, he started just before sunset, as if for a long hunt. His old, faithful, maltreated, blanketless, vermilionless squaw, returning with baskets full of kamas, saw him disappearing moodily down the trail.

"All that night, all the day following, he moved on noiselessly, by paths he knew. He hastened on, unnoticing outward objects, as one with controlling purpose hastens. Elk and deer, bounding through the trees, passed him, but he tarried not. At night he camped just below the snows of Tacoma. He was weary, and chill night-airs blowing down from the summit almost froze him. He dared not take his fire-sticks, and, placing one perpendicular upon a little hollow on the flat side of the other, twirl the upright stick rapidly between his palms until the charred spot kindled and lighted his 'tipsoo,' his dry, tindery wool of inner bark. A fire, gleaming high upon the mountainside, might be a beacon to draw thither any night-wandering savage to watch in ambush, and learn the path toward the mines of hiaqua. So he drowsed chilly and fireless, awakened often by dread sounds of crashing and rumbling among the chasms of Tacoma. He desponded bitterly, almost ready to abandon his quest, almost doubting whether he had in truth received a revelation, whether his interview with Tamanous had not been a dream, and[Pg 139] finally whether all the hiaqua in the world was worth this toil and anxiety. Fortunate is the sage who at such a point turns back and buys his experience without worse befalling him.

"Past midnight he suddenly was startled from his drowse and sat bolt upright in terror. A light! Was there another searcher in the forest, and a bolder than he? That flame just glimmering over the treetops, was it a camp-fire of friend or foe? Had Tamanous been revealing to another the great secret? No, smiled the miser, his eyes fairly open, and discovering that the new light was the moon. He had been waiting for her illumination on paths heretofore untrodden by mortal. She did not show her full, round, jolly face, but turned it askance as if she hardly liked to be implicated in this night's transactions.

"However, it was light he wanted, not sympathy, and he started up at once to climb over the dim snows. The surface was packed by the night's frost, and his moccasins gave him firm hold; yet he traveled but slowly, and could not always save himself from a glissade backwards, and a bruise upon some projecting knob or crag. Sometimes, upright fronts of ice diverted him for long circuits, or a broken wall of cold cliff arose, which he must surmount painfully. Once or twice he stuck fast in a crevice and hardly drew himself out by placing his bundle of picks across the crack. As he plodded and floundered thus deviously and toilsomely upward, at last the wasted moon paled overhead, and under foot the snow grew rosy with coming dawn. The dim world about[Pg 140] the mountain's base displayed something of its vast detail. He could see, more positively than by moonlight, the far-reaching arteries of mist marking the organism of Whulge beneath; and what had been but a black chaos now resolved itself into the Alpine forest whence he had come.

"But he troubled himself little with staring about; up he looked, for the summit was at hand. To win that summit was well-nigh the attainment of his hopes, if Tamanous were true; and that, with the flush of morning ardor upon him, he could not doubt. There, in a spot Tamanous had revealed to him, was hiaqua—hiaqua that should make him the richest and greatest of all the Squallyamish.

"The chill before sunrise was upon him as he reached the last curve of the dome. Sunrise and he struck the summit together. Together sunrise and he looked over the glacis. They saw within a great hollow all covered with the whitest of snow, save at the center, where a black lake lay deep in a well of purple rock.

"At the eastern end of this lake was a small irregular plain of snow, marked by three stones like mountains. Toward these the miser sprang rapidly, with full sunshine streaming after him over the snows.

"The first monument he examined with keen looks. It was tall as a giant man, and its top was fashioned into the grotesque likeness of a salmon's head. He turned from this to inspect the second. It was of similar height, but bore at its apex an object in shape like the regular flame of a torch. As he approached, he presently discovered that this was an image of the[Pg 141] kamas-bulb in stone. These two semblances of prime necessities of Indian life delayed him but an instant, and he hastened on to the third monument, which stood apart on a perfect level. The third stone was capped by something he almost feared to behold, lest it should prove other than his hopes. Every word of Tamanous had thus far proved veritable; but might there not be a bitter deceit at the last? The miser trembled.

"Yes, Tamanous was trustworthy. The third monument was as the old man anticipated. It was a stone elk-head, such as it appears in earliest summer, when the antlers are sprouting lustily under their rough jacket of velvet.

"You remember, Boston tyee," continued Hamitchou, "that elk was the old man's tamanous, the incarnation for him of the universal Tamanous. He therefore was right joyous at this good omen of protection; and his heart grew big and swollen with hope, as the black salmonberry swells in a swamp in June. He threw down his 'ikta'; every impediment he laid down upon the snow; and unwrapping his two picks of elk-horn, he took the stoutest, and began to dig in the frozen snow at the foot of the elk-head monument.

"No sooner had he struck the first blow than he heard behind him a sudden puff, such as a seal makes when it comes to the surface to breathe. Turning round much startled, he saw a huge otter just clambering up over the edge of the lake. The otter paused, and struck on the snow with his tail, whereupon an[Pg 142]other otter and another appeared, until, following their leader in slow solemn file, were twelve other otters, marching toward the miser. The twelve approached and drew up in a circle around him. Each was twice as large as any otter ever seen. Their chief was four times as large as the most gigantic otter ever seen in the regions of Whulge, and certainly was as great as a seal. When the twelve were arranged, their leader skipped to the top of the elk-head stone, and sat there between the horns. Then the whole thirteen gave a mighty puff in chorus.

"The hunter of hiaqua was for a moment abashed at his uninvited ring of spectators. But he had seen otter before, and bagged them. These he could not waste time to shoot, even if a phalanx so numerous were not formidable. Besides, they might be tamanous. He took to his pick, and began digging stoutly.

"He soon made way in the snow, and came to solid rock beneath. At every thirteenth stroke of his pick, the fugleman otter tapped with his tail on the monument. Then the choir of lesser otters tapped together with theirs on the snow. This caudal action produced a dull muffled sound, as if there were a vast hollow below.

"Digging with all his force, by and by the seeker for treasure began to tire, and laid down his elk-horn spade to wipe the sweat from his brow. Straightway the fugleman otter turned, and swinging his tail, gave the weary man a mighty thump on the shoulder; and the whole band, imitating, turned, and, backing inward, smote him with centripetal tails, until he resumed his labors, much bruised.[Pg 143]

"The rock lay first in plates, then in scales. These it was easy to remove. Presently, however, as the miser pried carelessly at a larger mass, he broke his elk-horn tool. Fugleman otter leaped down, and, seizing the supplemental pick between his teeth, mouthed it over to the digger. Then the amphibious monster took in the same manner the broken pick, and bore it round the circle of his suite, who inspected it with puffs.

"These strange magical proceedings disconcerted and somewhat baffled the miser; but he plucked up heart, for the prize was priceless, and worked on more cautiously with his second pick. At last its bows and the regular thumps of the otters' tails called forth a sound hollower and hollower. His circle of spectators narrowed so that he could feel their panting breath as they bent curiously over the little pit he had dug.

"The crisis was evidently at hand.

"He lifted each scale of rock more delicately. Finally he raised a scale so thin that it cracked into flakes as he turned it over. Beneath was a large square cavity.

"It was filled to the brim with hiaqua.

"He was a millionaire.

"The otters recognized him as the favorite of Tamanous, and retired to a respectful distance.

"For some moments he gazed on his treasure, taking thought of his future grandeur among the dwellers by Whulge. He plunged his arm deep as he could go; there was still nothing but the precious shells. He smiled to himself in triumph; he had wrung the secret[Pg 144] from Tamanous. Then, as he withdrew his arm, the rattle of the hiaqua recalled him to the present. He saw that noon was long past, and he must proceed to reduce his property to possession.

"The hiaqua was strung upon long, stout sinews of elk in bunches of fifty shells on each side. Four of these he wound about his waist; three he hung across each shoulder; five he took in each hand;—twenty strings of pure white hiaqua, every shell large, smooth, unbroken, beautiful. He could carry no more; hardly even with this could he stagger along. He put down his burden for a moment, while he covered up the seemingly untouched wealth of the deposit carefully with the scale stones, and brushed snow over the whole.

"The miser never dreamed of gratitude, never thought to hang a string of the buried treasure about the salmon and kamas tamanous stones, and two strings around the elk-head; no, all must be his own, all he could carry now, and the rest for the future.

"He turned, and began his climb toward the crater's edge. At once the otters, with a mighty puff in concert, took up their line of procession, and, plunging into the black lake, began to beat the water with their tails.

"The miser could hear the sound of splashing water as he struggled upward through the snow, now melted and yielding. It was a long hour of harsh toil and much back-sliding before he reached the rim, and turned to take one more view of this valley of good fortune.[Pg 145]

"As he looked, a thick mist began to rise from the lake center, where the otters were splashing. Under the mist grew a cylinder of black cloud, utterly hiding the water.

"Terrible are storms in the mountains; but in this looming mass was a terror more dread than any hurricane of ruin ever bore within its wild vortexes. Tamanous was in that black cylinder, and as it strode forward, chasing in the very path of the miser, he shuddered, for his wealth and his life were in danger.

"However, it might be but a common storm. Sunlight was bright as ever overhead in heaven, and all the lovely world below lay dreamily fair, in that afternoon of summer, at the feet of the rich man, who now was hastening to be its king. He stepped from the crater edge and began his descent.

"Instantly the storm overtook him. He was thrown down by its first assault, flung over a rough bank of iciness, and lay at the foot torn and bleeding, but clinging still to his precious burden. Each hand still held its five strings of hiaqua. In each hand he bore a nation's ransom. He staggered to his feet against the blast. Utter night was around him—night as if daylight had forever perished, had never come into being from chaos. The roaring of the storm had also deafened and bewildered him with its wild uproar.

"Present in every crash and thunder of the gale was a growing undertone, which the miser well knew to be the voice of Tamanous. A deadly shuddering shook him. Heretofore that potent Unseen had been his friend and guide; there had been awe, but no[Pg 146] terror, in his words. Now the voice of Tamanous was inarticulate, but the miser could divine in that sound an unspeakable threat of wrath and vengeance. Floating upon this undertone were sharper tamanous voices, shouting and screaming always sneeringly, 'Haha, hiaqua,—ha, ha, ha!'

"Whenever the miser essayed to move and continue his descent, a whirlwind caught him and with much ado tossed him hither and thither, leaving him at last flung and imprisoned in a pinching crevice, or buried to the eyes in a snowdrift, or gnawed by lacerating lava jaws. Sharp torture the old man was encountering, but he held fast to his hiaqua.

"The blackness grew ever deeper and more crowded with perdition, the din more impish, demoniac, and devilish; the laughter more appalling; the miser more and more exhausted with vain buffeting. He determined to propitiate exasperated Tamanous with a sacrifice. He threw into the black cylinder storm his left-handful, five strings of precious hiaqua."

"Somewhat long-winded is thy legend, Hamitchou, Great Medicine-Man of the Squallyamish," quoth I. "Why didn't the old fool drop his wampum—shell out, as one might say,—and make tracks?"

"Well, well!" continued Hamitchou, "when the miser had thrown away his first handful of hiaqua, there was a momentary lull in elemental war, and he heard the otters puffing around him invisible. Then the storm, renewed, blacker, louder, harsher, crueller than before, and over the dread undertone of the voice of Tamanous, tamanous voices again screamed,[Pg 147] 'Ha, ha, ha, hiaqua!' and it seemed as if tamanous hands, or the paws of the demon otters, clutched at the miser's right-handful and tore at his shoulder and waist belts.

"So, while darkness and tempest still buffeted the hapless old man, and thrust him away from his path, and while the roaring was wickeder than the roars of tens and tens of bears when a-hungered they pounce upon a plain of kamas, gradually wounded and terrified, he flung away string after string of hiaqua, gaining never any notice of such sacrifice, except an instant's lull of the cyclone and a puff from the invisible otters.

"The last string he clung to long, and before he threw it to be caught and whirled after its fellows, he tore off a single bunch of fifty shells. But upon this, too, the storm laid its clutches. In the final desperate struggle, the old man was wounded so sternly that, when he had thrown into the formless chaos, instinct with Tamanous, his last propitiatory offering, he sank and became insensible.

"It seemed a long slumber to him, but at last he awoke. The jagged moon was just paling overhead, and he heard Skai-ki, the Blue-Jay, foe to magic, singing welcome to sunrise. It was the very spot whence he started at morning.

"He was hungry, and felt for his bag of kamas and pouch of smoke-leaves. There, indeed, by his side were the elk-sinew strings of the bag, and the black stone pipe-bowl,—but no bag, no kamas, no kinnikinnick. The whole spot was thick with kamas plants, strangely out of place on the mountainside, and over[Pg 148]head grew a large arbutus tree, with glistening leaves, ripe for smoking. The old man found his hardwood fire-sticks safe under the herbage, and soon twirled a light, and, nurturing it in dry grass, kindled a cheery fire. He plucked up kamas, set it to roast, and laid a store of the arbutus leaves to dry on a flat stone.

"After he had made a hearty breakfast on the chestnut-like kamas-bulbs, and, smoking the thoughtful pipe, was reflecting on the events of yesterday, he became aware of an odd change in his condition. He was not bruised and wounded from head to foot, as he expected, but very stiff only, and as he stirred, his joints creaked like the creak of a lazy paddle upon the rim of a canoe. Skai-ki, the Blue-Jay, was singularly familiar with him, hopping from her perch in the arbutus, and alighting on his head. As he put his hand to dislodge her, he touched his scratching-stick of bone, and attempted to pass it, as usual, through his hair. The hair was matted and interlaced into a network reaching fully two ells down his back. 'Tamanous,' thought the old man.

"Chiefly he was conscious of a mental change. He was calm and content. Hiaqua and wealth seemed to have lost their charms for him. Tacoma, shining like gold and silver and precious stones of gayest luster, seemed a benign comrade and friend. All the outer world was cheerful and satisfying. He thought he had never awakened to a fresher morning. He was a young man again, except for that unusual stiffness and unmelodious creaking in his joints. He felt no apprehension of any presence of a deputy tamanous, sent[Pg 149] by Tamanous to do malignities upon him in the lonely wood. Great Nature had a kindly aspect, and made its divinity perceived only by the sweet notes of birds and hum of forest life, and by a joy that clothed his being. And now he found in his heart a sympathy for man, and a longing to meet his old acquaintances down by the shores of Whulge.

"He rose, and started on the downward way, smiling, and sometimes laughing heartily at the strange croaking, moaning, cracking, and rasping of his joints. But soon motion set the lubricating valves at work, and the sockets grew slippery again. He marched rapidly, hastening out of loneliness into society. The world of wood, glade, and stream seemed to him strangely altered. Old colossal trees, firs behind which he had hidden when on the hunt, cedars under whose drooping shade he had lurked, were down, and lay athwart his path, transformed into immense mossy mounds, like barrows of giants, over which he must clamber warily, lest he sink and be half stifled in the dust of rotten wood. Had Tamanous been widely at work in that eventful night?—or had the spiritual change the old man felt affected his views of the outer world?

"Traveling downward, he advanced rapidly, and just before sunset came to the prairies where his lodge should be. Everything had seemed to him so totally altered, that he tarried a moment in the edge of the woods to take an observation before approaching his home. There was a lodge, indeed, in the old spot, but a newer and far handsomer one than he had left on the fourth evening before.[Pg 150]

"A very decrepit old squaw, ablaze with vermilion and decked with countless strings of hiaqua and costly beads, was seated on the ground near the door, tending a kettle of salmon, whose blue and fragrant steam mingled pleasantly with the golden haze of sunset. She resembled his own squaw in countenance, as an ancient smoked salmon is like a newly dried salmon. If she was indeed his spouse, she was many years older than when he saw her last, and much better dressed than the respectable lady had ever been during his miserly days.

"He drew near quietly. The bedizened dame was crooning a chant, very dolorous,—like this:

'My old man has gone, gone, gone,—
My old man to Tacoma has gone.
To hunt the elk, he went long ago.
When will he come down, down, down,
Down to the salmon-pot and me?'

'He has come from Tacoma down, down, down,—
Down to the salmon-pot and thee,'

shouted the reformed miser, rushing forward to supper with his faithful wife."

"And how did Penelope explain the mystery?" I asked.

"If you mean the old lady," replied Hamitchou, "she was my grandmother, and I'd thank you not to call names. She told my grandfather that he had been gone many years;—she could not tell how many, having dropped her tally-stick in the fire by accident[Pg 151] that very day. She also told him how, in despite of the entreaties of many a chief who knew her economic virtues, and prayed her to become the mistress of his household, she had remained constant to the Absent, and forever kept the hopeful salmon-pot boiling for his return. She had distracted her mind from the bitterness of sorrow by trading in kamas and magic herbs, and had thus acquired a genteel competence. The excellent dame then exhibited with great complacency her gains, most of which she had put in the portable and secure form of personal ornament, making herself a resplendent magazine of valuable frippery.

"Little cared the repentant sage for such things. But he was rejoiced to be again at home and at peace, and near his own early gains of hiaqua and treasure, buried in a place of security. These, however, he no longer overesteemed and hoarded. He imparted whatever he possessed, material treasures or stores of wisdom and experience, freely to all the land. Every dweller by Whulge came to him for advice how to chase the elk, how to troll or spear the salmon, and how to propitiate Tamanous. He became the Great Medicine Man of the Siwashes, a benefactor to his tribe and his race.

"Within a year after he came down from his long nap on the side of Tacoma, a child, my father, was born to him. The sage lived many years, beloved and revered, and on his death-bed, long before the Boston tilicum or any blanketeers were seen in the regions of Whulge, he told this history to my father, as a lesson and a warning. My father, dying, told it to me. But I,[Pg 152] alas! have no son; I grow old, and lest this wisdom perish from the earth, and Tamanous be again obliged to interpose against avarice, I tell the tale to thee, O Boston tyee. Mayest thou and thy nation not disdain this lesson of an earlier age, but profit by it and be wise."

So far Hamitchou recounted his legend without the palisades of Fort Nisqually, and motioned, in expressive pantomime, at the close, that he was dry with big talk, and would gladly wet his whistle.

[Pg 153]


CHAPTER XII

A Summer in the Sierras

UR Western literary disciple, Bret Harte, is responsible for some such statement as this, through the mouthpiece of one of his lively mountaineers:

"Tain't no use, you ain't got good sense no more. Why, sometimes you talk jest as if you lived in a valley!"

Doesn't that epitomize the contempt of the highlander for the lowlander?

A lover of the Californian Sierra reasonably would be expected to originate such a philosophy. For while all mountains approach perfection, existence in the California cordillera is as near Utopian as this old earth offers. That, of course, applies only to the out-of-door lover. For the others I dare venture no judgment; in their blindness they love best their cities and their rabbit-warren homes, and the logical desires of sunshine[Pg 154] and forest are dried out of them by steam heat and contaminated by breathing much-used oxygen.

Humans, generally speaking, have their chief habitat in the lowlands. Compelling reasons, aside from choice, are responsible for this state of affairs. For instance, there are not enough highlands to go around. Then, too, valleys and plains are better adapted to the customary occupations of the genus homo, especially that obsessing mania for the accumulation of cash. But despite their habits and their environment, a satisfactory proportion of the valley dwellers love the hill country, and when they have mountains for neighbors revel in the opportunities thereby afforded.

In California the lot of the lowlander is blessed beyond compare, for the most enticing playland imaginable is at his beck, and he is offered a scenic menu à la carte, so to speak, which includes about everything the Creator devised in the way of out-of-door attractions. There is sea beach and forest, poppy-gilded plain and snow-quilted mountain. From a semi-tropical riviera, with the scent of orange blossoms still in his nostrils, he may mount above the snow line in a few brief hours. One day he bathes in the Pacific, inhaling[Pg 155] the dank, sea-smelling fog, and the next finds himself in the grandest forests of America, breathing the crisp air of lofty altitudes. Revel in the gentle south of France or Alpine Switzerland; enjoy the mildness of Florida or the rugged mountaineering of the Rockies; drink Chianti in an Italian vineyard or cast a trout fly in a brawling Scottish stream; view fragments of Canton within gunshot of the Golden Gate and then glimpse utter desert by the shores of the Salton Sea—in short, choose what you will, and in California it awaits you.


The breezy bay of San Francisco, blue Tamalpais, and the live-oaks of Berkeley's campus we left behind, swinging easterly and south through the hot, rich valley of the San Joaquin until the railroad ended and our trail began. Before us lay a summer in the Sierras; a summer in no wise definitely organized in advance, but ninety days of wandering at will unburdened by itinerary and guided chiefly by the whim of the moment.

A wonder of the world supremely worth seeing is Yosemite and when you see it, if the possibility offers, avoid the hackneyed methods. The best[Pg 156] way ever devised to get acquainted with the Wonder-Valley, or any other of Nature's masterpieces, is the simplest: it consists in progressing upon your own two feet. So it was that we entered the Yosemite Park, and under our own power, so to speak, we negotiated many scores of miles over trails good and bad, and often guided by no trail at all.

"The live oaks of Berkeley's campus"
"The live oaks of Berkeley's campus"
From a photograph by Wells Drury, Berkeley, Cal.
Looking across the clouds to Mount Adams from the flanks
of Rainier
Looking across the clouds to Mount Adams from the flanks
of Rainier Copyright 1909 by L. G. Linkletter

To add even a modest description of Yosemite Valley to the far-reaching bibliography already in existence would be indeed carrying coals to a literary Newcastle. If you want guidebooks, history, or information upon its flowers and its trees, simply whisper the word "Yosemite" in any west-coast bookstore and you will be led to shelves bulging with volumes that are authoritative, comprehensive, attractive, and, many of them, interesting. It is suggested, however, that the wonders of the Valley will break upon you with all the greater splendor if reading about them is postponed until after you have made visual acquaintance with what Nature has written under the blue California sky in characters of trees, cliffs, rushing rivers, giant trees, and myriad flowers.

Go, then, as did we, with a pack on your back[Pg 157] and without plans. Or, if needs be, patronize the hotel or one of the luxurious camps, and thence see the sights of the Park at leisure through the medium of the stagecoaches which go nearly everywhere over the excellent roads.

As for us, we had a scrap of a tent and a box of provisions which we trundled, after a deal of vexatious bargaining, a mile or so in a borrowed wheelbarrow to an enchanted camping spot beside a brimful brook, shaded by primeval trees and sheltered from the welter of humans who promenade promiscuously by a convenient arboreal jungle. There we made our headquarters, by extending our fragmentary canvas fly between our blankets and the heavens and establishing a megalithic fireplace at arm's reach from the running water, where we cooked three or more times a day.

For a happy fortnight we did those things which Yosemite visitors are supposed to do. We gloried in the sheer mightiness of El Capitan from below, and reveled in the views from its crest. From Inspiration Point, on the road to the Big Trees, we were inspired beyond expectation by the magnificent panorama of the cliff-encompassed canyon, with the silver waterfalls lighting its shadowed[Pg 158] walls like threads of gossamer against the gray background of the rocks. Close at hand we were deafened by the thundering waters of Bridal Veil and Nevada, and we clambered up the trails to see the highland rivers that gave them birth. A glad summer day was devoted to the Mariposa Grove pilgrimage where discreet soldiers watched lest we abscond with a flower or treelet, or, I suppose, commit that universal sin of American self-publicity, scratch our puny initials upon the gnarled columns of the most ancient and the grandest monuments Nature has erected on our continent—the Sequoias.

"We gloried in the sheer mightiness of El Capitan" "We gloried in the sheer mightiness of El Capitan"

Then, having reveled in the prosaic recreations of Yosemite—and the first view of the Valley alone is worth the entire pilgrimage, remember—we picked up our beds and walked. That is, the blankets were strapped on our backs, and the rudiments of a commissary stowed in our ricksacks. So equipped, with our creature comforts provided for to the extent of about fifty pounds per man, we "cached" the balance of our provender and equipment in a rocky cave (where a bear subsequently effected destructive inroads) and struck out for Tuolumne Meadows and Hetch-Hetchy.

[Pg 159]

In the course of our unplanned wanderings we followed up the Merced River, past Nevada Falls and through the meadowed beauties of the Little Yosemite. Ultimately, by ways uncharted, so far as we were aware, we viewed the Merced Canyon where Lakes Washburn and Merced nestle in the heart of a little-traveled fairyland, and thence struck 'cross-country to the upper regions of the other great river of the Park, the Tuolumne.

All the Tuolumne Meadow country is sheer delight, for mountaineer, fisherman, naturalist, and lover of the out-of-doors whose tastes are unspecific; well has John Muir called it "the grand central camp-ground of the Sierras." It is a vast meadow, hemmed in by a mountain region beyond compare for expeditioning, with legions of royal trout ready for the fly, and a vast flower garden maintained enticingly by Dame Nature during the summer sunshine season.

The trip we took from the Meadows, again without trail, was down the Tuolumne to Hetch-Hetchy Valley. The journey's start literally was flower-strewn, and we tramped carefully lest we crush over-many of the purple daisies and tiny violets dotting the dewy grass, while lupin offered[Pg 160] gentle resistance to our progress. First came the canyon of Conness Creek, shaded with groves of hemlock, and neighbored by three falls, the first of the countless cataracts which mark the wild river's course through the rockbound gorge, to the valley of our destination, miles below.

Beyond the falls the stream flows quietly for a space, between banks lined with pines and deciduous trees. As Marion Randall Parsons has quoted, here,

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs forever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.

And standing beside the white waters with the ground shaking underfoot to the tune of their mighty onrush, with the meadows, trees, and flowers round about, the awesome cliffs for guardians, and the bright blue sky over all, it requires no visionary to conjure up legendary cities at this river's end, for but half lend yourself to the notion and the glorious Sierran stream becomes a beckoning highway to a land of pleasant dreams.

"A vast flower garden maintained enticingly by Dame
Nature"
"A vast flower garden maintained enticingly by Dame Nature"
Copyright 1912 by Kiser Photo Co., Portland, Ore.
Light and shadow in Yosemite Light and shadow in Yosemite

Of the Tuolumnic canyon journey this same[Pg 161] lover of the Sierras, Mrs. Parsons, has sketched the following description:

It is impossible to do justice to the canyon after one brief journey through it; impossible to set down in order the details of that day's travel and the next, confused as they were by the consciousness of tired muscles and eyes bewildered by the all too hurried succession of interests. Little more than impressions remain—memories of cliffs rising from three to five thousand feet above us; of a walk of half a mile on stepping stones along the river; of more talus-piles; of the entrance into the rattlesnake zone; of a walk through a still forest of tall firs and young cedars, where our voices seemed to break the silence of ages; of more talus-piles; of a camp beneath the firs among deep fern-beds, and of the red ants that there congregated; of more brush and more talus-piles; of a look down Muir Gorge and a hot climb up a thousand feet over the rocks to the cairn of stones containing the precious register; of a cliff extending to the river's edge which presented the alternative of edging across it on a crack or climbing a five-hundred-foot hill to get around it.

The Tuolumne is one of the largest of our Sierra rivers, much greater in volume than its quieter neighbor, the Merced. Its falls, often of an imposing height, are none of them sheer, none of them giving that impression of pure joy of living with which the Merced waters leap into the great Nevada abyss. For the Tuolumne's is a sterner, stormier course,[Pg 162] beset with giant rocks against which even its splendid strength is impotently hurled, and its joy is the joy of battles. But it is a strange thing, standing beside one of these giant cataracts where the ground shakes with the impact and where every voice of wind or living creature is silenced in the roar of the maddened waters, to see under what a delicate fabric this Titan's force is veiled—a billowing, gossamer texture, iris-tinted, with jeweled spray flying high upon the wind.

Then came Hetch-Hetchy, after two days of strenuous pursuit of the Tuolumne's galloping waters.

When we were there Hetch-Hetchy was a valley untrammeled, carpeted with grass and flowers, walled by mighty cliffs, traversed by the unfettered Tuolumne. Of late, as all the outdoor world knows, its freedom has been bartered and its fate sealed—the fate of being drowned beneath a reservoir whose waters are to quench the thirst of San Francisco. Probably, from an engineering standpoint, the knell of Hetch-Hetchy is a masterpiece; perhaps economically it is wisdom; but none who have delighted in the valley's hospitality but deem it tragedy of the darkest die.

Be that as it may, the waters are yet unstored and Hetch-Hetchy is still a camp-ground, and for[Pg 163] the city-bred or the city-weary it offers panacea beyond compare as it has since the beginning of all things, when cities were as little thought of as reservoirs. Regarding the horrors of industrial civilization, William Morris once urged humanitarian effort "until the contrast is less disgraceful between the fields where the beasts live and the streets where men live." And Hetch-Hetchy, even in a region of loveliness, is perhaps Nature's strongest sermon in her wordless arraignment of the physical follies of civilization—at least that so-called civilization which is wound around with unashamed artificialities and the ugliness of urban existence.

Our week in Hetch-Hetchy we wished might have been a month, but the calendar moves relentlessly in the Sierra as elsewhere, and only too soon the days were numbered until we must abandon Yosemite Park and strike southward into other mountain regions, with other companionship. So back we "hiked" to our valley base camp, rescued what the bears had left of our stored property, and renewed acquaintance with the railroad at Merced.

During the rest of that most excellent summer[Pg 164] my fortunes were thrown in with those of the Sierra Club, the Californian member of the Coast's trio of notable mountain-climbing organizations, the other two being the Mazamas of Portland and the Mountaineers of Seattle.

Sunrise at Hetch-Hetchy Sunrise at Hetch-Hetchy
The Government road that leads to Mount Rainier The Government road that leads to Mount Rainier

This organized back-to-naturing, so to speak, deserves a large measure of attention and a vast deal of praise. The official purpose of the Sierra Club is "to explore, enjoy, and render accessible the mountain regions of the Pacific Coast." Its aim, like those of its brother organizations of the West and East, is to "publish authentic information concerning the mountain regions and to enlist the support and cooperation of the people and the Government in preserving the forests and other natural features of the Sierra Nevada Mountains." With such a platform these clubs of the Pacific accomplish much real good and often are the sponsors for forward-looking movements of wide importance. Also, their experience and their organized methods each summer make possible lengthy excursions into the mountain regions whose scope would be beyond the individual means of many who join forces with the club on these community outings. Hundreds of miles of new[Pg 165] trails are laid out and old ones improved, peaks are climbed and records left, often trout are planted in barren lakes, and everyone is given an educational experience in the ways of the Open. Also—and primarily—all hands have a royal good time.

At Tracy, in the San Joaquin Valley, where the Sierra Club special train stopped for supper, I joined the party. That night I felt conspicuous, for six weeks of tramping in the Yosemite had removed the last traces of presentability from my costume; however, when at dawn the hikers of the morrow emerged from the sleeping-cars at Porterville, white collars, low shoes, long skirts, and all the other impedimenta of civilized apparel were replaced by workaday garments, while khaki and flannel shirts were much in evidence.

For two days the long line struggled along the trail leading into the canyon of the Kern. From oak and chaparral to pines and bear clover, silver fir, and nature-made gardens of columbine, red snow plant, and cyclamen we mounted, and then still higher to a silent tamarack country. Then down interminably to Fish Creek, and camp, and Charlie Tuck, who was—and no doubt still is[Pg 166]—the Celestial ruler of the club's all-important culinary department.

Fishing, minor side trips, some fish-planting, and all the attractions of outdoor camp life occupied a week in the lower Kern Valley. Then camp was removed ten miles up the canyon to the junction of the Big Arroya and the Kern, whence were engineered ascents of the Red Kaweah and of Whitney, highest of all the mountains in the United States, each reached through side trips of several days' duration, and each opening up a fresh, new field of highland delights.

The trails of the Sierra, like trails the world over, are endlessly appealing—only the Sierran footways seem somehow richer in variety than others known to me. The entire mountain world unfolds from the shifting vantage points of these ribbons, threading its most sacred temples, clear and strong through the valleys, distinguishable only by the presence of many blazes upon the tree trunks where pine needles plot their obliteration, zigzagging dizzily up steep slopes, crossing rivers on perilous logs or buried knee-deep beneath the rushing waters of the ford, skirting sky-reflecting lakes, hiding beneath summer snowbanks, or traversing[Pg 167] waste highlands, marked only by the cairns that lift their welcome heads against the sky. Underfoot there is the needle carpet, springy ground, shoe-cutting rocks, or deep-trodden dust, where the wayfarer comes to the journey's end a monument of ghostly gray. Overhead is always the tender blue of the summer California sky, with here and there a snowy cloud, for contrast's sake. Most impressive is the trail that clambers among the snow-clad heights, where the chilling air of the peaks makes the blood run fast and the heart rejoice; its beauty most appreciable where it follows brawling brooks and shadowed valleys, or meanders among woods, pillared with great trees and roofed with swaying boughs, ever and anon emerging into tiny, exquisite glades. Such is the Sierra trail, each mile a thing of individual charm and happy memory.

The physical ways and means of the outing are as near perfect as may be where one hundred and twenty humans are turned loose in the wilderness. The perfection is, of course, the outgrowth of long experience and careful planning. Pack-trains take in the provisions well in advance; the day's "hike" is laid out, and "grub" is in waiting when the[Pg 168] allotted number of miles lie behind; side trips are arranged, and when there is climbing of consequence, experienced leaders pilot the way. And yet, withal, the month-long holiday is far from being disagreeably "cut and dried," and there seems always sufficient opportunity for freedom to satisfy individual tastes. Nor, because of the numbers, need one lack privacy; on the trail and at camp the excursionist may restrict himself to his own unimpeachable society, he may join a small group of chosen spirits, or associate with the general unit. In short, there is opportunity to satisfy every taste on a Sierra Club outing, which holds equally true of the other mountain organizations of the Coast, each of which conducts admirable activities in its chosen field.

The last bright recollection of that Sierra summer is the camp-fire which closed the final day—and all camp-fires are pleasant memories. It was beneath the mighty trees of the Giant Forest that we spent the final night, the light of our blaze insignificant 'midst the shadows of these huge trunks, the quiet summer night all about. The inner circle of faces showed ruddy in the reflected firelight, the outer edges of the group[Pg 169] were deep in shadow. In the center, close to the fire, his figure outlined by its glow, stood John Muir, president of the Club, naturalist, explorer, lover of the Sierras, and loved by all. That night he shared with us, as often he had done before, his knowledge of those intimates of his, the Californian mountains, with whom he had lived so long and so understandingly. And now, in this December, six years since that evening in the Giant Forest, comes the news that John Muir has been gathered to his fathers, and that this splendid apostle of the out-of-doors will never again share its treasured secrets at Sierran camp-fires.

[Pg 170]


An amusing, instructive, and tempting account of travel in the byways just off the new highway.—N. Y. Sun.

The Southland
of
North America

Rambles and Observations in
Central America

By

George Palmer Putnam

Author of "In the Oregon Country," etc.

With 96 Illustrations from Photographs by the Author, and a Map, 8°, 440 Pages, $2.50

"The author has traveled much along the coasts and in the interior of these jungle-clad Latin-American countries and states, so near and yet so little regarded or understood by their big northern neighbor in the family of western nations.

Though primarily devoted to the present-day aspects of the countries visited—their pressing political problems, industrial experiments, and further possibilities of development, social structure, and national ideals—the book takes many excursions into the past, and ventures now and then into prediction concerning the future.

Life takes on novel and curious aspects in these alien lands, where there is more regard for festivals than for public improvements, and the outlander must take his chances of meager accommodation in inns by courtesy, surrounded by a careless, pleasure-loving throng.

How this populace differs from the rest of the Latin-American world, what are their customs, diversions, inmost thoughts, and ideals—these are topics on which the author enlarges, in keenly observant fashion, and with the true spirit of an experienced traveler.

The volume has many fine illustrations, and through its descriptive passages runs a vein of excellent humor."—N. Y. Sun.


[Pg 171]

The Winning of the
Far West

A History of the Regaining of Texas, of the Mexican War, of the Oregon Question; and of the Successive Additions to the Territory in the United States within the Continent of America, 1829-1867

By

Robert McNutt McElroy, Ph.D.

Edwards Professor of American History, Princeton University Author of "Kentucky in the Nation's History," etc.

8°. With Illustrations and Maps. $2.50

This volume is designed as a continuation of Theodore Roosevelt's well-known work, The Winning of the West. It begins with the history of the Texas Revolution under General Sam Houston, tracing the origin of that struggle to President Jackson's determination, so often announced in his letters of that period, to "regain Texas, peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must."

The author has had access to large collections of Jackson's letters, most of which have never been published, and his treatment of the subject is distinctly new.

The volume then traces the origin of the Mexico-American war, showing from official documents that the declaration of war was not due to the encounter between the forces of General Taylor and those of General Arista on the banks of the Rio Grande, but had been positively decided upon by President Polk and his Cabinet before the news of that engagement reached Washington.

The Mexican War is treated in detail, the accounts of the battles being based upon official documents and military reports.

The events leading up to the conquest of New Mexico and California, and the settlement of the old controversy over the ownership of the Oregon region, are treated as phases of the western movement. Then follows a full discussion of the Compromise of 1850, and the volume closes with the Purchase of Alaska.


 

[Pg 172]

Mountaineering and
Exploration in the
Selkirks

A Record of Pioneer Work among the Canadian Alps, 1908-1912

By Howard Palmer

Corresponding Member of the Geographical Society of Philadelphia, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

With 219 Illustrations and 2 New Maps. $5.00

A contribution to the description and history of a region that has been sadly neglected. The author is the first to have surveyed and photographed a large territory of the Selkirks, covering about 600 square miles in the northerly part. His superb photographs, some taken from the top of the loftiest peaks, are a great addition to this important and fascinating work.


[Pg 173]

The Lower Amazon

A Narrative of Explorations in the Little-Known Regions of the State of Pará, on the Lower Amazon, with a Record of Archæological Excavations on Marajó Island at the Mouth of the Amazon River, and Observations on the General Resources of the Country

By Algot Lange

Author of "In the Amazon Jungle" Late officially connected with the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the Brazilian Federal Government

With an Introduction by Frederick S. Dellenbaugh 8°. 100 Illustrations and Maps. $2.50

To readers of Algot Lange's former book, "In the Amazon Jungle," the present volume needs no introduction. No explorer of modern times has had a more adventurous or more fruitful career. The scientific, archæological, and topographical results of his explorations are only exceeded by the adventure of his expeditions, and he has proved himself a faithful and supremely interesting raconteur. The scene of his present volume lies in the extreme eastern part of that vast division of South America lying on both sides of the greatest river in the world.

The explorer's adventure with a nest of boa-constrictors, his discovery of an island covered with pottery of an ancient race, and of tribes of stark naked Indians living in the most primitive style, using stone axes and making dugouts as they must have been made many centuries ago, is supplemented by his valuable information of the undeveloped wealth of the vast tract traversed.

New York      G. P. Putnam's Sons      London






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