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August

This webpage reproduces a section of
Uncle Sam's Camels

by
Lewis Burt Lesley


Harvard University Press,
Cambridge [Mass.], 1929
As republished by The Rio Grande Press, Inc.
Glorieta, NM 1970

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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October
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

The Report of Edward Fitzgerald Beale to the Secretary of War concerning the Wagon Road from Fort Defiance to the Colorado River
April 26, 1858
35th Congress, 1st Session,
House of Representatives
Ex. Doc., No. 124

p39  p190  September 1. Camp No. 2. Up at 4 and off at 5 o'clock. We travelled four miles over a level table-land, where the prairie dipped suddenly for a distance of three hundred feet; only about fifty yards was steep, and this our wagons descended without any trouble whatever, other than locking. The perpendicular height of the table-land, over the level of the valley, was about three hundred feet. The valley into which we descended was probably five or six miles in width, and bounded by low hills. Crossing this diagonally, and keeping our good ground and westerly direction, we passed over undulating prairie land, covered with grass for twelve miles, when we arrived at Jacob's Well.

This is decidedly the most wonderful place of the kind we have yet met with. The traveller, following the trail on a level plain, comes suddenly to the brink of a perfectly circular hole of about a quarter of a mile in circumference, and a hundred yards in almost perpendicular descent. The sides of this hole slope very steeply nearly to the bottom, where a basin of apparently very great depth, and about sixty yards in circumference, completed the picture. Around the edges of this pool grow rushes and a few small willows and cedars. The water is agreeable to the taste, though a little brackish, and in it are quite a number of fish. It is only accessible by one trail, which follows the nearly precipitous sides, winding gradually down. Immediately around the well there is no other wood than greasewood, though there are plenty of small cedars at a quarter of a mile distant. I found in the well three blue-winged teal,  p191 all of which I killed and found very fat. Our camels, which I packed heavily with corn at Zuñi, (about 750 pounds each), get along very well, and came into camp this morning a short distance behind the wagons. We saw this morning a fine band of antelopes. Left Jacob's Well at 3.20 P.M. and following a westerly course over a rolling prairie, covered with the finest gramma grass, arrived at Navajo spring, where we found good grass and water. Since leaving Zuñi we have seen, at times, indistinctly, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Whipple's trail, and have travelled in its direction most of the time. This evening we struck it just before camping. We have made this evening nearly seven miles, making, for one day's journey, nineteen miles.

To our left, and bearing nearly east, our guide, a Pueblo Indian, pointed out the ruins of an ancient Indian town, which he described as being very curious; but as it was dark when we encamped, I did not visit it. From this place it must be about six miles distant. The cottonwood trees growing near it would be a good guide for any future traveller. At this camp there is no other than greasewood bushes, but within a mile cedar is abundant. Soil, a sandy loam.

September 2. Camp No. 3. Got up at 4½ A.M., off at 6, and at 8 arrived at the Puerco, but found no water. A little further on, say p40a quarter of a mile, found a little rain water in a fork of the Puerco coming from the northwest. The Puerco has a few cottonwood trees on its banks, and at a short distance on the hill-sides, scattering cedars of stinted growth. At 11 we came to the dry bed of the Rio de la Xara, after travelling from our last camp nine miles, over a rolling country, very easy everywhere for our wagons. At  p192 the crossing we dug, but found no water; following down the dry bed of the stream for two miles, on the right hand side, is a mass of sandstone rock of considerable size, say half an acre; from this, two hundred yards down, on the left, is more rock, two of which overhang the verge of the bank. Under these, by digging a few inches, we found water sufficient for all our animals, of which we have a hundred and twenty. There is no timber here other than greasewood bushes. The soil is light red clay and sand mixed.

Since leaving Zuñi, the weather has been delightfully cool and pleasant for travelling, and grass good.

Encamped on the Carisso, which is thirteen and a half miles distant from Navajo spring, our last camp. Travelled six miles to the westward, and encamped on a high table-land near the Xara. Grass abundant, but no wood. The country to the northwest is much broken, and very rugged; Sierra Blanca is within sight to the southward, and Moquis to the northwest. The road came up to the banks of the Xara, which we found exceedingly steep, and the whole valley intersected in all directions by ravines, and red clay, mixed with brown sandstone, arroyos, and gullies. Passing a narrow neck of land between the Xara and some very rough country towards the east, we reached a high table-land, covered with beautiful grass, where we encamped; no wood. We found, on the left of our trail, on the table-land, a huge petrifaction, apparently a large tree of probably three feet in diameter.

September 3. Camp No. 4. Got up this morning at 4, and off at 5½.

It rained on us from the time of our camping last evening until our arrival at this place, Rio de la Xara.

 p193  We plodded along this morning through a cold hard rain for a distance of six and a half miles, descending gradually the high table-land on which we had encamped last night. On arriving at the banks of this river, we found no difficulty in getting down without locking a wheel. The country to the west and north, like that of yesterday, was broken and rocky; to the south and east it has softened into a hilly country. Descending in the bed of the stream, the waters of which were discolored and muddy, about a quarter of a mile we found a ravine opening into it, in which was clear water among some cottonwood and much undergrowth, indicating a spring. As one enters this ravine on the right hand side, and nearly opposite the cottonwoods, is a rock thirty feet in height, a part of the brown sandstone cliff, forming the sides of the ravine; and nearly at its base, protruding through the solid rock, and completely surrounded by it, is the butt end of a large petrified tree, the diameter of which, is almost three feet; before reaching this, is a detached rock of the same character, through which runs another petrified tree.

p41At 9, we encamped here for breakfast, the grass being good and wood sufficient. Our course today has been southwest by south.

Left the Xara at 12, and crossing a low ridge, entered the broad valley of the Pecos. At this point, the valley is about five miles in width, and bounded by low hills on either side. Three or four miles after leaving the Xara, we crossed two sandy beds of streams emptying into the Pecos; but which, I presume, carry no water, excepting in rainy weather.

As we opened the valley, we could see at a considerable distance its point of junction with that of the Little Colorado.  p194 Travelling down it, is seen on the left, rising beyond the low hills which bound the valley, the single peak of a mountain, sugar loaf in shape, and looking blue in the distance. It is the most prominent landmark in sight. To the southwest are two conical buttes, which are near the Little Colorado. The soil this evening has been of the same character as that previously noticed — light, sandy loam. There is no wood on the valley, and but now and then a cottonwood on the banks of the river. The ground is strewn with pieces of petrified wood, and very pretty agates are constantly found.

The weather is still unsettled, and the chances are in favor of our passing another night in the rain, with wet blankets to begin with. It is very cool, and more like our November in the latitude of Virginia, than September. Our course today has been a little south of west, and the distance made, fourteen miles. Grass good, and water plentiful.

September 4. Camp No. 5. We were off this morning at 6 A.M. The polling was very heavy, owing to the rain of yesterday and last night. Nearly all night it rained on us, and sometimes heavily; but the morning broke bright and clear.

Our road was made this morning down the banks of the Pecos, towards its junction with the Little Colorado. About three miles from our camp, we came to a shallow lake, near the river, where it seemed as though the water might be permanent. The soil is still the same, sand and clay mixed, though clay predominates. Sprinkled over it we found many beautiful stones of various hues and colors, some of which we preserved. Finding the road bad, from the soft  p195 character of the soil, we crossed the river for better travelling; but soon after recrossed it where a point of sandstone rock comes down to the banks, and quite near the junction of the two rivers. The Pecos, where we crossed it, contained six inches of water in depth, and about twenty feet in width. Turning the angle of the point of rocks, we came in sight of the cotton-wood trees of the Rio Colorado, at a distance of three or four hundred yards.

The river comes in from the southeast. It was a discolored and shallow stream, some one hundred yards or so from bank to bank; but the water not wider than as many feet, and not over a foot in depth.

The valley of this river is three miles across, and grass plentiful in the bottoms, as well as on the hills, which are quite low. There is abundance of large cotton-wood trees in the bottom, which resembles very nearly the bottom of the Rio Grande. The weather this morning is quite warm, giving us a fine chance to dry our blankets; and p42the men are pleased again, after cooking for several days with greasewood, to see the fine large trees which grow in such abundance here. We have travelled this morning, eight and a half miles, reaching this breakfast camp at 9 o'clock. Our course has been, for the morning, southwest.

The mountain peak to the south, which I mentioned yesterday, I have called Mount Whipple, in honor of the distinguished officer who bears that name.

Left camp at 2.30 and travelled for some distance down the river bottom to a point of rocks which came out from the bluffs towards it, and turning this, we came to and crossed Leroux's fork, which comes in from the northward; the country in that direction looking clean and open.

 p196  The stream was quite shallow, not over a half foot in depth, and about fifteen in width. A few cottonwoods lined its bank, and served to mark its course. Proceeding onward in the river bottom, and finding the road heavy with mud, we took a course due west; and ascending a long slope, came suddenly to its termination, from whence we enjoyed a magnificent view. The whole river, for miles, was spread out before us; and far in the distance, over the green tops of the cottonwood trees, San Francisco mountain, rising apparently out of a vast plain, stood as the landmark which was to be our guide for many days. Here we encamped for the night. The country looks open and promises a level road. Should it turn out as much so as that we have passed since leaving Zuñi, we have every reason to congratulate ourselves. The soil over which we have passed this evening, especially that of the hills, is excellent; the grass fully attests that fact. The weather this evening is delightfully cool and clear. Wood is abundant on the river, which is quite near camp. We have travelled a little south of west today, and made fifteen miles, although the rains have completely saturated the ground, and in many places we have found the road heavy with mud.

September 5. Camp No. 6. The promise which last evening held out of fair weather has not been fulfilled. It rained shortly after sunset and at intervals during the night. We were off this morning a little after 5. The trail was heavy with mud from the last three days' rain, and yet, although it made our travelling unpleasant, I am pleased to see that the wheels of our heavy and heavily loaded wagons cut in but very little, and most of the time, not more than halfway up the fellies.

 p197  Since we struck the river I have observed none of that salt ground, so characteristic of all the streams of this region; and the grass of the river bottom seems of a decidedly better quality, while the low hills which bound the view are everywhere covered with the best gramma grass.

The soil of the bottom is light clay unmixed; and that of the hills, clay of a firmer nature, and mixed with gravel and pebbles, many of which are very pretty.

The view is unchanged since yesterday, San Francisco mountain looking no nearer for the many miles we have plodded towards it.

p43 At 8 we encamped for breakfast near a little fork of the river which comes into this from the north.

The weather is cool and cloudy and threatens more rain. Wood abundant on the river, but none on the hills. We travelled this morning nearly five miles on a course about north northwest, and cut down two arroyos to admit the passage of our wagons. We left our breakfast camp at noon and travelled until 5, crossing over many arroyos draining to the river.

The road was perfectly level, with the exception of the gullies, which we worked down without difficulty. At 4 we passed the ruins of an ancient Indian pueblo. It seemed very old and was scarcely to be traced, except by the broken pieces of pottery which were scattered over the ground. It is a constant source of wonder to us, to see, by the evidences the number of these ruins afford, the dense population this country has once sustained. Scarcely a mile but has its mound of earth and bits of broken pottery ware to mark what was once the abode of a race whose very name has passed away. In those examined this evening we found  p198 parts of baked earthen pipes, evidently for the purpose of conducting water, and much of the pottery was prettily figured. The sites of all these places show some eye for beauty of scenery, too; nearly all are placed on gentle eminences overlooking the river and valleys, and not on steep mesas, like those of modern times, and which were built under the influence of fear, after those Bedouins of America, the Apaches, had commenced their ravages over this part of the world. We came eleven miles this evening, making for our day's journey seventeen miles, on a course little north of west.

The soil has been clay, with a little sand; weather pleasant and cool; wood, water, and grass abundant. We passed this evening a large Indian trail going to the north. It seemed about a week old, and we suppose it to be of the Ganoteros, with whom we have been and are at war.

September 6. Camp No. 7. Up at 4 and off at 5 A.M.

It rained on us from sunset until morning; and in consequence of which we found the pulling through the river bottoms unusually heavy and fatiguing to our animals. Our trail was over a perfect level, but the rains had rendered the stiff clay soil of the consistency of tar, so that it stuck to the wheels in large pieces, and to the feet of the mules like snow balls. Add to this the fact that the road was unbroken, there not being even a trail over it, and one may imagine how difficult a job it was to work wagons along. Nevertheless, the soil was not at all boggy, so that with heavy wagons we did not once stall. Passed this morning another large Indian trail going to the northward and crossing our track at right angles.

The weather this morning is bright and clear, but not hot.

 p199  We encamped for breakfast near the river, where the grass is excellent and wood abundant.

In sight, a little in advance of us, we see the tops of the cottonwood trees of Cotton-wood fork, a tributary of the Colorado Chiquito, coming in from the north. Our course this morning has been nearly west. The camels are so quiet and give so little trouble, that some times we forget they are with us. Certainly there never was any p44thing so patient and enduring and so little troublesome as this noble animal. They pack their heavy load of corn, of which they never taste a grain; put up with any food offered them without complaint, and are always up with the wagons, and, withal, so perfectly docile and quiet that they are the admiration of the whole camp. At starting there were many, a large majority of the men, who scouted the idea of their going with us, even as far as Fort Davis; but at this time there is not a man in camp who is not delighted with them. They are better today than they were when we left Camp Verde with them; especially since our men have learned, by experience, the best mode of packing them.

We have made this morning five miles and a half. The valley of the river bottom here is about six miles wide. On either side the hills slope gradually to the meadow land of the bottom, and, ascending them, extensive plains spread out for great distances, all covered with fine grass.

A spire of the Mogollon mountains and a large blue ridge are seen ahead of us, but at a great distance.

Starting from our breakfast camp at 11, we pulled through the same stiff muddy soil until 1, when the Cottonwoodº arrested our further progress. I ascended this stream some distance, and found it running through a wide valley,  p200 bounded by plains and low hills as far as the eye could reach. In the direction of the stream, which is northerly, though a great distance off, we saw many isolated peaks, which are said to be in the Moquis country. The stream itself is swollen by rains, and, although now some six feet deep, is doubtless nearly dry when the rains cease.

Finding a good ford over the Colorado Chiquito, and not knowing how soon these constant rains might render it impassable, and, above all, as we would be bound to cross it the next day, I determined to do so at once; so I followed down the cottonwood, crossed the Colorado Chiquito, and after going a mile or two down it, encamped near a singular stream coming in from the south. This stream gives no notice of its existence until you arrive directly on its banks, having neither cottonwood trees nor willows to warn one of its whereabouts. I explored it for some distance up, and found it issuing out of a rocky cañon with precipitous sides. The water is clear, and the immense amount of drift wood, and its character, shows that it comes from a country where cypress and pine of great size abound. Just above, or nearly directly opposite to where we crossed, comes in another stream from the south; but the waters of this are muddy and the banks dotted with cottonwood trees, whereas the waters of the other are clear, showing it to come all its way over a rocky bed.

The climate of this country is exceedingly pleasant, and from the vast quantity of rain that has fallen on us, I should suppose crops might be easily raised without irrigation.

Passed this evening more Indian trails, all going to the northward. Saw much beaver sign, and one fresh dead one, caught by Mr. Coyote last night, and only partly eaten.  p201 We saw large fires, Indian signals, in the Mogollon mountains this evening. Grass excellent and most abundant, and for water, the whole river. We have made today but p45eleven miles, but, if it does not rain again to‑night, shall make up for it tomorrow.

September 7. Camp No. 8. Up at 4, and started at 6 A.M.; but a team having stalled in the river, at the mouth of the little creek mentioned yesterday, it became necessary to take out all the loading. This delayed us until 9, when, after coming three miles, we encamped to breakfast.

We have seen indications of the greatest abundance of game for the past three days. Elk, antelope, and deer, besides beaver and coyotes in large numbers. We leave the river here and take across some low hills, on account of a bend it makes to the northward, and are glad to get to the hills again, where the road will be less monotonous than these flat river bottoms. Wood, water, and grass good, and the weather warm and clear.

Last night we had no rain, though its want was nearly supplied by the heaviest dew I ever saw, and which penetrated our blankets thoroughly. To-the north, yesterday and today, we have had the peaks of Rabbit hills in view. They seem conical points, rising to a considerable height above the general level of the low hills and plains around them.

We left camp at noon, and following a stretch of country as level as a billiard table, crossed, after coming five miles, a slight elevation, from which we came into a broad, level and beautiful valley, stretching as far as the eye could reach to the westward and southward. In this valley, the hills of which on both sides are gentle slopes rather than hills, we found a small stream of running water, but very  p202 narrow, scarcely over a foot in width. Passing this, we came to a mesa or table-land, the ascent to which occasioned some delay, as it was necessary to cut down the hill before our wagons could go up. Once on the summit, the travelling was again level, until after crossing it, when we came to the abrupt descent of its other side. Here we encamped, having made ten miles, and for our day's journey over twelve. The grass throughout the day has been most abundant, and we have constantly exclaimed, "What a stock country!" I have never seen anything like it; and I predict for this part of New Mexico a larger population, and a more promising one than any she can now boast. The Indians once removed, or kept in check by military posts, this country would be immediately settled with a large population. The river is in sight on our left, well wooded with cottonwood; and as far as one can see, a level country extends to the southward and westward, covered with gramma and bunch grass. Across the river the Rabbit hills look picturesque, but rugged, as, indeed, does all the country in that direction.

The weather this evening has been bright, cool, and pleasant, and the night is cloudless. Today the soil of the bottoms has been clay, with a little sand; on the mesas it is clay and gravel. For short distances today we have had it of a light character, almost like ashes.

We encamped on the top of the mesa to‑night, without water, having watered our animals just before ascending it. On the mesas there is only grass wood. In the river bottom, to our right, wood abundant. Our general course today has been northwest. We have p46seen deer and elk, and the fresh tracks of them are innumerable all over the valley.  p203 The valley here, including both sides, is about fifteen miles wide.

September 8. Camp 9. — Up at 4, and off at 5.30 A.M.

Descending the mesa, on which we encamped last night, we struck the level valley in a few hundred yards, and our course from that time has been over a succession of level valleys, divided from each other by gentle ridges of very easy grades, generally a mere swell in the prairie. All of them were filled with fine grass, with the exception of bald places, called by the Mexicans playas. These are always of clay, perfectly flat and smooth, and for the most part hard and firm.

At 8 o'clock we found water in two pools, directly on our travelling direction, and without going out of our way to seek it, so that doubtless there are others of the same character.

Shortly after leaving the water, we came, by an inclined plain, to an immense plain or mesa, which seemed to extend over a radius of twenty miles. The soil was firm clay, well packed with gravel, and the whole covered with a luxuriant crop of gramma grass. Travelling in a direct line across this, in a direction nearly northwest, but a little to the westward, we came in sight of the river, but at a considerable distance. The grass was so tempting that I determined to camp here for breakfast.

On these lands, lying at a distance from both river and mountain, there is no timber, so that the traveller must cook with greasewood bushes.

Our trail has led to the west and north for the last day or two; but for no other reason than that a cañon, known as Cañon Diablo — a mere chasm in the plain — prevented  p204 the passage of wagons in a due west direction. But for this we should now be thirty miles further on our journey. It is described by my guide as being a rent in the plain of about a hundred yards across, and with precipitous sides of white rock. This singular chasm extends for thirty or forty miles nearly north and south, which obliges us to go greatly out of our direction in order to pass its mouth. This is the more annoying as the country directly across it presents to the eye almost an uninterrupted plain, rising very gradually to the base of San Francisco mountain and a long spur of the Mogollon range, which comes out to meet the mountain just mentioned. The weather this morning is like a day in the early part of June.

We arrived at camp at 9, having made nearly ten miles, on a course a little west of northwest. This morning, on our arrival at breakfast camp, one of our party came near sitting on a rattlesnake, but fortunately it was discovered in time by a messmate, and I despatched it with a wagon whip. It was of the class known as ground rattlesnake, and, although of small size, said to be of the most venomous character.

We left camp at 1, and soon after descended from the mesa to the river bottom. The descent was by a gradual slope. Since leaving the river, we have never been over five miles from it, and the road to it always easy, so that should others, following our trail, not find water where we did, they have only to turn off to the right and make p47the river. Travelling down the river bottom, which is here a wide valley on both sides, we came, in ten miles from the previous camp, where we breakfasted, to the mouth of the Cation Diablo, where we encamped. This point is well marked by  p205 four little red sandstone buttes, which rise from the meadow near its mouth, and cannot be mistaken, as they are of peculiar form and isolated in position. They are about thirty or forty feet in height. We are now gaining on San Francisco mountain, which looks down upon us this evening, and to morrow we cross to encamp near its base. Today the soil of the table-lands has been the same as that of yesterday. That of the bottom is sand and clay mixed.

The weather this morning is cool and pleasant, and, though clear to us, we see showers falling ahead, and hear the distant roll of thunder.

We arrived at camp this evening at 5.30 P.M., having made nearly twenty miles today with our teams. This, over an unbroken road, makes comment unnecessary. Our course has been about west northwest. In yesterday's notes I neglected to mention that up the steep mesa we ascended, and where it was necessary to double teams, the camels packed their heavy loads without the least apparent difficulty, and without a stop, some of them having nearly a thousand pounds, including the cumbersome and heavy saddle. Water, wood and grass abundant.

September 9. Camp No. 10. Left camp this morning at 5.30, and came three miles. We then encamped for breakfast, as our guide knew nothing of the country in the direction I desired to go, and it was therefore prudent to give the animals water before we started on the road. It was necessary to rest the animals a little, and allow the warm sun to make them thirsty, so that they would drink well before starting, for mules, unless very thirsty, will not drink early in the morning. After breakfast the animals were all sent back to the river, and at 11.30 A.M. we started on a course west by  p206 south. After ascending from the Cañon Diablo, we came to a plain of vast extent, and only bounded by San Francisco mountain ahead, and more distant ones to the southward. To the north nothing obstructed the view. This great plain seemed to ascend by a gradual slope to the westward until it met the base of the great mountain of San Francisco. As we travelled over it, we found it occasionally breaking into gentle valleys and small ravines, but all easy and rolling, and between them level floors of extensive table-land; the whole covered thickly, as far as the eye could reach, with the richest crop of the most luxuriant gramma grass. The entire plain is covered with stones and loose pebbles, and parts of it with small pieces of lava, and occasionally masses of it in rocks, which sometimes reach the altitude of fifteen or twenty feet. Altogether the view, the rich green grass, the distant mountains, and our moving camp wagons, sheep, horses, and camels, made up a beautiful picture. At 3 I sent off three of my men — Stacey, Porter, and Bell — to a line of distant trees, which seemed to promise water, and kept one direction myself with camp. At 4 we came to the banks of a rocky cañon, in which we found abundance of wood and water. Judging from the number of Indians who had evidently made this p48place a resort, I should think water might be found here at all times. The sides are very precipitous where we found the water, and on going around to the right of the trail, which we went down, I discovered a cave, which had lately been used by Indians as a chamber. The grass on which they had made their beds was still there, as well as a little wood not yet consumed. The chamber is natural and well arched. It would probably shelter twenty-five men quite comfortably.

 p207  We came today, in all, fifteen miles, on a course west by south, and encamped here at 4 o'clock. The weather this evening is quite cool, and we can see showers falling in the mountains ahead. Today nothing has impeded our progress but the grass, and this trail, travelled by one large emigrant train, will make as firm and fine a natural road as could be desired.

The creek on which we are encamped is fringed with black walnut of remarkably close texture, and many of them of considerable size. There is also gumpum weed in abundance.

September 10. Camp No. 11. Up at 4 and off at 5. Following up the creek we came to a curious sort of fortification, or remains of houses. One was of sixteen feet square, and containing but a single room; in another were three rooms, or what had been such. They were of stone, but no lime had been used. All the joints were regularly broken, and the sides, which were over three feet in thickness, were perfectly straight. Only about three or four feet in height remained; the rest had fallen, and lay in fragments at the base.

The morning was cool and fresh, and the night had been quite cold. As the sun rose the temperature became delightful, and has remained so all day. Following the still ascending plain, we approached the mountains, and, crossing a ridge, we came to a table-land from which the view was truly beautiful. Ahead to westward, the whole country was broken into gentle hills and valleys, covered with a heavy growth of noble fine trees, except here and there a mountain meadow of fresh green grass, while to the eastward lay the great plain over which we had so recently passed.

 p208  In one of the pleasant mountain valleys we encamped for breakfast; but, unfortunately, it bore no water. Thorburn and I crossed ahead to explore, and found fine, clear water, about a mile from camp, in very much such a place as we discovered it last evening.

The soil today has been of clay mixed with decomposed lava; the grass everywhere abundant. We have made this morning eleven miles; our course west, ½ south. We arrived at breakfast camp at 10.30. Game has been seen today in abundance — antelope and deer.

This morning we left breakfast camp, and following up the little valley in which we were encamped, turned, after going half a mile, the base of a hill on our left and came around it to the water we had discovered this morning, which, on examination, proved to be the same cañon on which we had encamped last evening, and which was also one of Whipple's camps in 1853.

Cosnurio caves. — These caves are quite extensive, and divided into different apartments by walls. I am quite sure these walls and divisions are not the work of the miserable Indians who at present occasionally make use of them, and who are too lazy and indifferent to p49such matters as domestic privacy to make any separate apartments. I think, most probably, this was the work of the race which made the pottery fragments, which are scattered everywhere on the surrounding hills. Certainly it is not of the present tribes, a people differing but little from the root diggers of the great desert and Pah‑utes.

One of the escort went off this morning just before we reached breakfast camp, and did not come in before we left. A party was sent to hunt him, but were unsuccessful;  p209 therefore I shall camp here this evening, although it was my intention to go twelve miles further, in order that, by building fires and making signals, he may have a chance of being found; but I hardly expect, in fact, I fear he will prove a total loss.

We have made in all today nearly fourteen miles on nearly a west course.

The evening is chilly, making camp fires quite pleasant.

On a further examination of the creek I found water in abundance, both above and below where we struck it this morning, and I think quite likely it may be found here at all times. Wood and grass abundant.

Our road this evening lay through a pine forest. A tree I measured of clear pine, and seemingly solid as possible, was five feet in diameter.

The soil is the same as this morning, clay covered with decomposed lava. We arrived at camp at 3 o'clock, leaving our former one at 1.30.

We have had an overhauling of the camels this evening; find their backs all doing well, and the animals improving in flesh. The rocks and lava over which we have passed, sharp as it is, have so far had no effect whatever upon their feet.

September 11. Camp No. 12. Up and off at 5.30 A.M.

The soldier who was missing yesterday has not appeared, although bright fires were kept up all night. It seems hard to determine whether he deserted or went off in a fit of mental aberration. To track him over the rocks would be impossible, and the attempt a useless waste of time.

Leaving our last night's camp, where we had a cold night, and a little frost and ice on the edges of mess kettles,  p210 which were left with water in them, we followed up the valley until half a mile brought us to a short hill, ascending which, we came to a glorious forest of lofty pines, through which we have travelled ten miles. The country was beautifully undulating, and although we generally associate the idea of barrenness with the pine regions, it was not so in this instance; every foot being covered with the finest grass, and beautiful broad grassy vales extending in every direction. The forest was perfectly open and unencumbered with brush wood, so that the travelling was excellent.

There has been less of stone today, and the soil seems all of rich clay and loam.

Fresh Indian tracks have been seen, probably made last night or yesterday. We came to this breakfast camp at 10 o'clock, having travelled ten miles. Our camp is now at the base of San Francisco p50mountain, which looks down frowning upon us. We found no water at this place. Our course this morning has been a little south of west. A shower or two fell on us this morning.

Leaving breakfast camp at 1, we travelled rapidly over a lovely country of open forest and mountain valley, which continually drew exclamations of delight and surprise from every member of the party. Even the stoicism and indifference to beauty of scenery so characteristic of the lower class of Spanish population was moved, and as we passed successive vales and glades, filled with verdant grass knee high to our mules, dotted with flowers, and the edges skirted by gigantic pines, they constantly gave vent to their delight in fervent ejaculations of praise.

After going a few miles, we found it necessary to ascend a mesa, which was rough with stones on the sides, and with  p211 flat rock on top. Crossing this, we descended into a pretty valley, where we found some holes of water; but, these not being sufficient, I sent off a man to explore, and in a quarter of an hour we heard his two shots, which was the signal agreed upon, announcing the discovery of running water. Following the direction, we crossed a low hill, and found the water rising from a marshy place, and running, or rather trickling through high grass, down a short cañon not over a hundred yards in length or more than fifty in width. The sides of this cañon are some ten feet high, and of solid rock, and should this become an emigrant trail, by throwing a dam across the lower end, water sufficient for ten thousand head of cattle may easily be obtained. The expense of this would be but trifling, as the material is all at hand, within twenty steps.

The soil this evening has been rocky on the hills, and clay and black loam in the meadows. We made ten miles this evening, on a course nearly west. San Francisco spring we found nearly dry.

Our camp is under San Francisco mountain, which rears its head far above us into the region of eternal snow. One of its sharp peaks is now covered with snow, looking at that great distance like a white cloud, and is doubtless at all times so. The peak is bare rock, for the vegetation ceases far below it, but from the point where the hardy pine can grow to its base, it is clothed with a noble forest of pine trees.

Today we saw, besides other game, such as bear, deer, and antelope, some partridges resembling in plumage and habits our own bird at home. They are the first of this species we have seen, all others having been of the blue and  p212 gray variety of New Mexico; and the sight of these familiar birds aroused a momentary pang of homesickness, such as I have not felt for many days. Some elegant squirrels were killed today very large and beautifully furred — a silver grey with a rich brown down the back. Scouting close to the mountain I discovered a singular tree. The bark had all the appearance of white oak, while the limbs were cedar. I called the attention of Mr. Williams to it, who has preserved a piece of the bark as well as some of the foliage. Our camp is cheerful to‑night, and brilliant with numerous fires. The night being cool, the mule guard and camp guard have built various fires around the spaces guarded, and these, in addition p51to the mess fires, give a very pretty effect, especially as each fire has a dozen logs of the fattest pine upon it.

September 12. Camp No. 13. Up at 4 A.M.

Being doubtful of the country ahead I sent off Thorburn and five men to look for water. We unfortunately have no guide, the wretch I employed at the urgent request and advice of every one in Albuquerque, and at enormous wages, being the most ignorant and irresolute old ass extant.

This obliges us to do the double duty of road making and exploring, which is very arduous, besides adding infinitely to my anxiety and responsibility.

The dew last night was so heavy that on turning out this morning I at first thought it had rained during the night; on inquiry, however, I found it had been perfectly clear. The morning air is keen; but the sky bright and clear. Thorburn got back at 10, reporting plenty of water ahead and a good road, so that we shall start immediately.

Leaving our last night's camp, which I called Stacey's  p213 spring, after one of my party, and travelling west by south seven miles, over a country of the same character as that of yesterday, we came to the beautiful valley of Leroux's spring, in which I encamped to water and graze the animals for two hours and a half. The road to the spring, from our last camp, is rough with loose stones of volcanic origin for half the way; but the grass as luxuriant throughout as elsewhere. The timber still retains its large size and abundant quantity. I measured today a pine nineteen feet in circumference and of very great height.

Leroux's spring is one of transparent sparkling water, and bursts out of the side of the mountain and runs gurgling down for a quarter of a mile, where it loses itself in the valley. To reach it we found it necessary to turn from the course we were steering, and go up into a little mountain glen from which it flows into the valley. The soil, though stony on the hills, like that of yesterday, is a rich loam in the valleys. The day is bright, clear, and warm.

We left our last night's camp at 11, and arrived at Leroux's spring at 2. We left Leroux's at 4 and a half P.M. and encamped at 7. Our road for the evening lay entirely through a heavy forest of pine, and was rough with loose stones. The grass, however, was as good as usual and very abundant. The road was over a rolling or rather undulating country, and excepting for stones would have been excellent.

Our camp, which is in the midst of the forest, and five miles from Leroux's spring, was soon as brilliant as day with the fires of the rich pine logs. Our animals having drank heartily, did not feel the want of water, and we, having brought some with us, found no inconvenience from it.

 p214  September 13. Camp 14. Up at 4, and off at 5.30 A.M.

Emerging from the pine forest, we came upon a rolling country dotted with isolated hills, and breaking into fine meadow lands, the borders of which were fringed with a heavy growth of pine and, occasionally, a few oak groves.

Passing to the north of Mount Sitgreaves, and between it and Mount p52Kendrick, over a beautiful country, though occasionally stony, we came upon two fine springs, which issue from the north side of Sitgreaves' mountain. The first one I called Porter's spring, after one of my party, and the second Breckenridge, after another.

The weather this morning was quite cold, and last night a white frost covered the ground. We have made this morning eleven miles on a course west eight degrees north, and arrived here at 10.30. Water is very plenty and permanent. Game has been seen in numbers this morning — antelope and deer.

The country seems to open handsomely to the north; in fact, in that direction it seems a great plain. To the southward Bill Williams' mountain is in sight about twenty-five miles distant. Sitgreaves' mountain about six, due south, and Kendrick's north of east about eight miles. To the west the country looks easy, with valleys and isolated hills, such as we have traversed this morning. The soil this morning has been similar to that of several days past — clay and loam in the valleys, and stony in the mesas and hills. Grass is everywhere good. The appearance of this place is, in the highest sense, sylvan. The fine spring attracts numerous antelopes, which appear and disappear as they glance rapidly through the fine open forest with which it is surrounded, sometimes stopping to gaze at the strangers, and  p215 at others racing past at full speed; and the majestic mountains looking bold and grand, and black with heavy timber, at just a sufficient distance to make the scenery of the amphitheatre in which the springs are one of the loveliest valleys we have seen. This stopping to graze has been fatal to two of the antelope, which have been killed by our party with muskets, directly in sight of the whole camp. The day has been delightfully pleasant since 1 o'clock.

Leaving Breckenridge spring at 2 o'clock, we passed over a rolling country on a west course for some eight miles, when a gradual ascent brought us to a stony mesa of level land over which we journeyed for a mile, when, on arriving at the brink, a great surprise awaited us. Here the most extensive prospect lays spread out before us. Far as the eye could reach, extending to the westward and northward, a wide and level valley of probably thirty miles in width, led the vision far towards the Colorado, while to the west and south the view lay over a ridge to another valley, seemingly a part or extension of the first, and bounded by a distant range of blue mountains, which I suppose cannot be very far from the great Colorado river. The view was so grand and extensive that we sat on our horses for a long time in silent admiration; I, on my part, only regretting that we could only go in one direction at one time, so that it was impossible to know and see all the view contained. The soil this evening has been less stony than usual, and the grass, though good, is not as fine as that we have heretofore had.

At 4 we found water in great abundance in a cañon to our right, which was bordered by fine trees. It was a succession of large pools, sufficient for one or two thousand  p216 head of animals, and I think, without doubt, permanent wood abundant.

Our general course today has been west eight degrees north, and we have made nineteen (19) miles. Could any amount of writing say p53more for a road? Nineteen miles with mules that have pulled and are pulling heavily loaded wagons eighteen hundred miles; and today we have travelled easily, having encamped at the Breckenridge spring for a considerable time. The camels continue undisturbed by the stony character of the country, and can any day go twice as far as the wagons, besides relieving us of all anxiety on their account as to food or water, for they can eat whatever they may chance to get, or do without anything, and drink only when the water happens to be perfectly convenient to camp.

September 14. Camp No. 15. Up at 4, and off at 5.30 A.M. Travelling six miles over a rolling country in the direction of a wooded butte nearly west from camp, and around the base of which I designed to go; we discovered water about a mile to the right in a ravine, which seems to be a fork of that on which we slept last night. Encamping in a valley among the cedar trees which cover the country here, I sent the animals to the water while the men prepared breakfast. The soil today has been clay and coarse volcanic pebbles. The grass (gramma) very good. The temperature of the weather has undergone a very sensible change, being now quite warm although cloudy. We encamped 8.30 A.M. As we advance, the country opens handsomely to the westward, and I am now steering for a depression in the mountains due west. I am strongly tempted, however, to alter my course to northwest, for to the northward appears  p217 a boundless plain, across whose southern termination our course seems to lead. From an elevation we ascended, I am almost certain a distant mountain to the northward is one at or near the mouth of the river Virgen, and consequently on the other side of the river Colorado. To the southwest is a stack of mountains, one of which is much higher than the surrounding ones, and quite pointed; this I presume to be Picacho.

Our guide has proved so utterly worthless, that I was obliged to send him to the rear yesterday, and only regret that I had not done so sooner. Up to this point he has only served to annoy and mislead me, and it is much better to have no guide, than one in whom you have no confidence, especially as it generally results in your having to do his work for him.

This evening our road, or rather direction to the westward, led us over successive ravines, all leading to the great plain lying to the northward. Intervening, the ground was covered with a thick growth of pine and cedar trees, and apparently this country extended for a considerable distance until it met a rough looking range of mountains, which I suppose is the Aztec range.

A consideration of these facts, and the tempting character of the country to the north and west, determined me to alter my course, and to endeavor to avoid the mountains by striking out upon the open plain. I therefore followed down a ravine into which the train had descended, and at night encamped near the dry bed of a considerable stream, which entered a cañon a short distance below camp. In the morning I shall follow out this ravine, which is filled with fine gramma, to the plain. I called the valley Gramma, from the quantity of that grass which is here found.

 p218  September 15. Camp 16. Up at 4, and off at 5.30 A.M. p54Following down the ravine for about half a mile, to the point of its entrance into the cañon, we crossed it and soon emerged upon the boundless plain, which stretched, as far as the eye can reach, to the north and west. Here I found the travelling excellent, the soil being of clay and coarse gravel. The grass was not so good though the ground was covered with it; but it was, as yet, young and short. In places, however, it was very good.

The curious appearance of the country to the north induced me to make a detour in that direction, with three of the party (Stacey, Bell and Porter) and Thorburn. Travelling over an apparently level plain, we came suddenly to the bank of a chasm of some one hundred feet in depth, and the same in width. Descending this, on foot, for some distance, I found it to be but the main channel into which many others of the same character, but smaller, emptied.

The sides of this cañon, except in a few places, were perpendicular rock; but the bottom, which was quite level, was filled with fine grass. Crossing this and many others, in search of a point sufficiently elevated to afford a distant view, we spent an hour or two fruitlessly and returned to camp.

Doubtless these cañons all empty the great floods, which the drift wood shows they are subject to at times, into the Colorado or Little Colorado at no very great distance, and I felt the greatest inclination to explore one to its mouth; but as we were uncertain where we should find water for our animals, I dared not do it. Last evening it rained quite a heavy shower, and we are praying for it again this evening. The day has been moderately warm, but cloudy  p219 towards noon, and rain has been seen falling some leagues to the west.

These plains are treeless, with the exception of a very few scattered cedars of small growth. We travelled this morning eleven miles on a course nearly northwest (N. 40° W.)

Breaking up our breakfast camp we followed our northwest course, occasionally bearing more to the westward to avoid the numerous small cañons, all making their way to the great one we had crossed this morning. As we ascended the slight elevations which the almost uniform level afforded, we became more and more impressed with the vast extent of the valley we were following.

On our right, at a distance of probably thirty miles, a long range of precipitous bluffs marked what I take to be the entrance of the Little Colorado into the great river of that name, and most likely at the commencement of the great cañon south of these; and the most prominent landmark in view is a mountain of curious form, rising out of the plain and entirely isolated. The sides of this mountain are quite red about half way up, and the shape of the whole somewhat resembles a bishop's mitre. I called this mountain after Lieutenant Thorburn, of the United States navy, to whose services on this expedition I am greatly indebted. To the southeast are Kendrick, San Francisco, Sitgreaves and Bill Williams' mountains, and to the southwest the peaks of Picacho, while all along to the westward is a line of mesas extending into the plain. To the northwest is a range, but so distant as only to present a dim blue line, and between that and us only a vast plain.

p55 After travelling about eight miles, and water having  p220 been found three miles to the eastward of us, we turned off and encamped about sundown, having made ten miles, giving us twenty-one for one day's work. We found the water in one of the cañons already mentioned, a tributary of the large one. It was abundant in quantity and of excellent quality. Large pools of a hundred yards in length were found above and below the place where we struck it, and the green gramma grass covered the sides thickly. Cedar wood was also abundant for camp purposes on the side of the hills. It is worthy of remark that while the grass on the great plain is young and but just sprouting, that near the cañons is well up and in bloom, though I perceive no change in the soil to produce that effect. The soil continues to be clay mixed with the coarse flat angular gravel.

Although it threatened rain yesterday, only a few scattering drops fell, and the evening, though cloudy and cool, was not cold.

On the plain there is but very little growth of wood of any kind; once in a mile or so one sees a small cedar.

At Albuquerque, before leaving, I found a man who had once passed through with Mr. Aubrey, and, thinking he might be of some use, I employed him. Up to this time he has only justified my expectation by looking out for water, but now he becomes useful as a guide, and, with his assistance, I hope to get along rapidly towards the Colorado. This evening he went off to hunt water before this, at which we are camped, was known to us, and up to this time has not returned, but I suppose he will rejoin us again tomorrow.

September 16. Camp No. 17. Our man Leco not having yet come in, and it is now noon, I begin to feel a little anxious  p221 about him, and shall remain here until he returns, or we can find out what has be come of him. Should he not return by night, I shall send a party in search of him, though I can imagine no accident that could happen him, as he is up to all the Indian tricks, and is an old traveller in the mountains and plains. At 4 P.M. I sent out a party of three men to look him up, with orders to search until tomorrow night, and then return; or, if they should find any Indian village sooner, so as to make it certain he had been slain by them, to come in immediately, go that we might make up a party to surround them and take due vengeance.

The weather today cold and windy.

September 17. Camp 17. — No news yet of Leco or the party sent in search of him. Finding being in camp tiresome, Thorburn and I walked some miles down the creek towards its entrance into the Colorado. We found water every hundred yards or so, and I am confident it may be relied on as permanent. The pools were large, some of them over a hundred yards in extent, and from one to three feet in depth. I am led to the belief in the permanence of this water from the fact that we found and killed here, at our camp, snipe, ducks, and crane; and that the water extends all the way to the river in pools is equally certain, otherwise the antelope would have made this place their resort for water, and abundance of sign would be found here, which is not the case, although they abound on the plains all around. The Indians, too, if this were the only water, p56would have a rancheria here, of which we should see the remains. The grass is equal to any we have found on the road, and is gramma mixed with bunch grass.

 p222  The soil is the same as that heretofore described in this region.

We find the whole country to the eastward cut up in cañons, all leading, I suppose, to the little Colorado, which is marked by the cliffs in sight of our camp, and is probably some thirty miles to the north of us.

Today the weather is pleasantly warm, with a brisk southwest wind blowing and a few clouds.

Leaving this camp I shall endeavor to find a road due west to the Colorado, which, although here running east and west, takes a bend a hundred miles to the westward, and runs nearly north and south.

Towards sunset the party sent in search of the missing guide returned with him. It appears that in getting off to light a fire his mule had escaped, and knowing it to be one of the most valuable in our mulada, he had followed it all the remainder of the evening and the whole of the next night, only catching it, sometime in the forenoon of the next day, and then supposing camp had held the direction it was going when he left it, and not being aware of our finding water here, he had kept on until overtaken by the men sent in search of him. He had been forty-eight hours without water or food, and must doubtless have perished had he not been found.

September 18. Camp 17. — The morning is bright, clear and warm. We have killed, this morning, at the water here, blue-winged teal and other ducks, flocks of which are flying and alighting around the pools, and the English snipe, the first of that species we have met with about here.

All signs indicate this as permanent water, and its very great abundance makes the discovery a most valuable one  p223 to this road. Water may be had, however, in any quantity every five miles from the Colorado Chiquito or Zuñi to the river, by the expenditure of a few thousand dollars by the government in building dams across aroyosº and cañons, which the rain would fill every month. A dam here, for instance, is not probably needed; but if it were, the stone and other material is ready cut by nature, and only wants the hand of man to place it in position to confine millions and millions of gallons. These cañons are from a hundred to two hundred feet in depth; at times a chasm with precipitous sides; at others only precipitous on one side; and all of them show, by drift wood and other unmistakeable signs, that they are frequently bold running streams. One can see, therefore, how simple a matter it would be to make the dams and to insure a bountiful supply of water at all seasons, should this, contrary to all signs, prove not to be permanent.

These remarks apply equally to all other parts of the road from Zuñi, and I cannot but think that money expended on a certainty of this kind would be spent to better purpose than in the uncertain process of artesian wells.

We leave here today at noon to explore this great plain, and shall endeavor to go as nearly west as possible to the Colorado Grande. Leaving King's creek, so called after one of my party, at noon, we p57travelled until 4, over an undulating plain, which stretched out to the northward and westward. I should suppose this plain to be, at its widest part, from eighty to one hundred miles in width. Its soil is light, loose yellow clay and coarse gravel, and is without trees, bearing only greasewood bushes for fuel.

To our left, that is, to the south and southwest, a range  p224 of mountains seems to terminate in long cape-like mesas, which extend into the plain we are traversing. Ahead the view is unbounded, only the blue points of a mountain appearing far in the distance. The bluffs of what we take to be the Little Colorado, and Thorburn's mountain to the east, are the most prominent objects in sight. The grass at our camp is short, but green and fresh, and has been so since leaving King's creek. The weather is clear and warm, making the uncertainty of water ahead rather unpleasant. However, by travelling tonight and part of tomorrow I hope we shall find it.

We have made this evening twelve miles, and shall go on again at sundown, and travel until midnight.

The slopes of the mesas on our left seem to be covered with a heavy growth of pine timber. The nearest is about ten miles south of us. Leaving our supper camp at dark, we travelled by night, and the night dark, for ten miles across the country to the northwest, and so level was the surface, that not a wagon stopped for a moment. At 10 we halted and encamped for the night. Going ahead with two or three of my party, I made fires every three or four miles, as guides to the wagons, and such was the level character of the country, that those behind told me they could frequently see the flash of my match as I would light it to kindle the tire. In gathering greasewood bushes for one of the fires, Thorburn picked up in his hand a rattlesnake, but fortunately the night was so cool that, I presume, the reptile was torpid with cold, so then when the fire blazed up I shot him with my pistol where Thorburn had dropped him.

Resuming our march at sunrise, we travelled twelve  p225 miles, the country assuming a slightly more rolling character as we advanced. We crossed many broad and well-beaten Indian trails, all going to the southwest and northeast, but none towards the direction we were travelling. Our guide, however, who had been full of confidence before, still retained his confident air, and assured me there was no doubt of our finding water a short distance beyond.

A half mile further, and he came back to tell that the distant mountain, towards which our course was directed, was not the one he thought, and that he was completely lost. I ought to have killed him there, but I did not.

We were thirty-two miles from water and in a country entirely unknown. Encamping at once, I despatched the two dromedaries to the east, while, with a few men on our strongest horses, I started to the west. On our line we travelled through some low hills, and following an Indian trail came suddenly upon a most wonderful sight. This was a chasm in the earth, or apparently a split in the very centre of a range of hills, from the top to the bottom.

Seeing that Indians had descended, I determined to try it, so, picking out the least precipitous part and scrambling down and leading p58our horses and zigzagging, we at last reached the bottom. Indian sign was abundant in the caves on either side, and a trail led up the middle of the ravine.

From appearances I should judge they wintered here, after gathering the piñon on the surrounding mountain sides. Exploring the cañon upwards for five or six miles, we found it ran out, so we ascended a steep hill, and, finding no water or any appearance of any, we turned our faces towards home. Arriving at camp, I found the  p226 dromedary men had found a river (the Little Colorado, I presume) about sixteen or twenty miles off, but very rough to approach. Our animals were now beginning to suffer very much, having been almost constantly at work for thirty-six hours without water; and one of the most painful sights I ever witnessed was a group of them standing over a small barrel of water and trying to drink from the bung hole, and seemingly frantic with distress and eagerness to get at it. The camels appeared to view this proceeding with great contempt, and kept quietly browsing on the grass and bushes. Unfortunately, the dromedary men had not gone down to the river, so that it was not certain that water, even though existing, could be got at, for these rivers, in going through cañons, are frequently inaccessible, so that, all things considered, it was safer to return, while the animals had strength to do so, to the water we had left, and start again, without guides, for, up to this time, they have proved a perfect curse to the party. Hitching up the teams, we commenced our retreat at dark. At about 3 o'clock in the morning it was found necessary to turn the animals out and drive them to water.

The moment they were released they started off in a gallop, (for they well remembered the last water we had left), which did not cease, with many of them, until they arrived at King's creek. I arrived, with Thorburn, at 7 in the morning. This evening the animals will be sent back to bring on the wagons, and will probably be here by daylight. The weather is warm.

A heavy growth of pine and cedar covered the hills in every direction, around the great cañon I have mentioned, and extended as far as we could see from the high hill we  p227 ascended. The grass was dry gramma, which did not appear to have sprouted at all this year.

The camels were sent on in advance, and shortly after our arrival here, although, like the rest of us, they had been on the road all night, they were started back with eight or ten barrels of water for the camp at the wagons. Six of them are worth half the mules we have, although we have good ones.

September 20. Camp No. 18. Today the wagons arrived, the mules having been sent back for them last night. Every one looks wretchedly jaded, and all hands are glad to get back to King's creek again, and most of them a little sick of exploring parties.

It must be borne in mind by those interested in the road that this has been only a lateral exploration, and not the line of the road itself.

I am now getting ready, with five or ten men, to start in advance to explore the country, before moving on with the camp.

September 21. Camp No. 18. Left, with Thorburn and ten men, at 4 in the evening, taking with us six breakers, of fifteen gallons each, of water, packed on camels, for the use of the mules and men. I took p59with me also, on this exploration, for the convenience of packing blankets and provisions, the small instrument wagon. At about 8 we encamped, after travelling across the plain, in a westerly direction, some ten miles, where the grass was good and wood abundant. At daylight we were off, still holding the same course, in order to turn the northern point of the long mesas I have mentioned as running out into the plain. Taking with me two men, I started more to the southward,  p228 into the mountains, and climbing the steep and rocky sides of the mesas we found ourselves, on gaining the summit, in a region of rough high table land covered with lava rock, but still very pleasing to the eye, for the timber was abundant — pine and cedar — and the grass a rich green and luxuriant. Through this beautiful country, abounding with deer and antelope, we searched ineffectually the whole day for water. To me the presence of game was conclusive evidence of the existence of water, and yet although we hunted faithfully, and were all experienced men, we had no success, and not a single spring could be found. At night we returned to the instrument wagon, which had followed a back bone, and by a more southerly course had reached the top of a high divide, which I determined to cross the next day in the prosecution of our search. Unfortunately the trails of the antelope and deer, which generally form good guides to the water hunter, in the rocky soil of the mesas, soon ran out, so that they were of no use. Birds too were abundant — jays, hawks, ravens, sparrows, and towards evening a flock of partridges gave us encouragement for a further search in the morning — nevertheless it was thought prudent to send back the instrument wagon to camp, as it would reduce the number of animals requiring water, and also men. At daybreak it was on its return, a dromedary having been started to camp to send out to its assistance water and fresh mules. Last night we watered our animals after their hard days' work, a fourth of a bucket each, and, as the day had been hot, it was only enough to tantalize them.

Starting at daybreak, we resumed our search, and passing through a great deal of pretty country, we came upon  p229 a ravine, at least what seemed one at the commencement, but which, on further examination proved a level and beautiful pass through a range of sand-stone mountains. The prospect was tempting, although it evidently led us far from home, and our animals, if no better success attended us, were sure to die under us for the want of water, leaving our own chance of life to depend on our getting back over a rough country, some fifty or sixty miles afoot. However, trusting to luck I determined to try it. Following down the pass, which I called after Tucker, one of my men, and a very worthy one, we found it to descend rapidly, but with a very smooth surface to the mouth, a distance of perhaps six miles. The width would not average over a hundred and fifty yards, and the direction was southwest. It seemed to cleave the mountain, which was of a bright whetstone character from summit to base, and opened into a wide valley of some twenty-five miles in length and ten in breadth, covered with grass so green that it seemed we must find water in it. Turning to the left, and going to the southeast at the base of the Sierra, which was a line of perfectly perpendicular rock for its entire length, p60we journeyed on for eight or ten weary miles to where the mountains, forming the southern boundary of the valley, united with the Sierra we had passed through. Here we found an easy path, and going through it and turning to the northward, we encamped at night on the dry bed of a stream, having travelled nearly fifty miles. The day was hot and dusty, and during this time we had watered our animals once with about four quarts each, and their distress was painful to witness. It was evident something must be done speedily, or we should lose every animal we had, and  p230 perhaps our own lives, for we knew nothing of the character of the country we had to traverse between us and camp, or whether, indeed, it was passable at all.

Camp was, by my estimate, sixty or seventy miles distant, bearing nearly north, and we had remaining one fifteen gallon keg of water for eight men and ten animals, which had already been exhausted for the want of it. Matters began to look squally. The camels alone seemed perfectly indifferent, and, like good fatalists, chewed their cuds in cheerful contentment. At day break we were on the road again, heading north towards camp, but having a terrible time of it over volcanic rocks and brush wood of cedar and scrub pine. We struggled manfully on until noon, when all the mules were completely done up, and it was evident they could go no further. I was fortunately riding a superb horse on the occasion, "Gray Eddy," lull of strength and endurance, and I came to the conclusion to give him a bucket of water, and trust to his reaching camp with an order to send out immediate relief. He drank it eagerly, for his tongue was as dry as an old bone, and his lips parched and hot with fever. Exchanging my horse with Tucker for his broken down mule, I ordered him to proceed to camp at once, giving him his landmarks and bearings, and send us assistance, and in the meantime we would ascend a prominent point and keep up fires and smokes to guide the relief party to our camp. We had about a bucket of water remaining, and if Tucker got in at all, we could not expect him back for forty-eight hours. As for the poor animals, they hung around the empty water kegs braying huskily for what they were perishing for. Everything now rested on the gallant gray, and as if  p231 conscious of his responsibility the noble brute struck out boldly for the mountain which marked the direction of camp. Slowly we followed along to reach the point where our signal fires were to be kept burning. We had not gone over three miles when I observed a rugged looking cañon on the left, which seemed as though it might bear water. Dismounting, I climbed down the steep and slippery rocks to the bottom, and, after a short search, discovered small hole, under a projecting rock, containing water. Pursuing this discovery, I found, a hundred yards further down, a large pool of perhaps a thousand gallons. I fired my gun and pistols at once to halt the party which had passed on, and our famished animals being led down to the pool, plunged their heads to the eyes in cool water, and for the first time in three days, satisfied their thirst. May Stacey was started on his mule, now refreshed with water, at speed to overtake Tucker, which he succeeded in doing, the two returning to camp that evening. The mystery of so much game and so little water was now solved. Instead of looking for streams and rivulets, I found p61I must look in the rocky cañon for pools and water holes. Acting on this, I found water next morning after a half hour's search, and in this region shall not fear for the future. The nature of the country beyond must determine the method of search when we get there.

Leaving the lucky cañon, which I called Alexander's, from one of the men who were with me, the next morning, we followed valley after valley, one opening into the other, until we reached the plain where I halted, and, watering our animals from the replenished kegs, made coffee and rested awhile, with the view of taking the moon for the  p232 next ten miles to camp. Starting sometime after dark with Thorburn, Tucker, and Davis, the remainder of the party being left to come on in the morning, we walked our animals over the plains, guided by the North star.

My horse walking more rapidly than the rest I gradually drew several miles ahead, and reached the rocky banks of King's creek at our camp about ten o'clock. Seeing the wagons quite close, and finding, as I thought, the camp fire where the mules were herded and no guard visible, I concluded they were all asleep, and that discipline had been relaxed in my absence. I determined to frighten them, so drawing my revolver, and giving two or three Indian yells, I fired it off. I hardly remember much that occurred after that. "Gray Eddy" wheeled at the first yell, and when I fired took the bit in his teeth and was soon rushing like lightning over the rough ravines and precipitous and rocky affluents which run in all directions from the plains into King's creek. My arms soon became as useless as if they belonged to somebody else a mile off, and, expecting to be dashed to pieces every moment, I was carried by the frightened animal many miles. Once I stopped him, but it was only for a moment, when he made a fresh start worse than ever, until at last, with a tremendous crash that made me see stars, we came down together. Fortunately his feet became entangled in the bridle and I was able to recover him, which was more than I could do for myself, for I remained sick and bruised on the ground until nearly morning.

In the meantime camp was all in confusion. The Indian yells had started every man to his feet, and for a while a regular stampede was the result of my experiment. To make the matter more mortifying, when I got back I found  p233 that the fire I thought was the guard fire was an old one left burning, and that the guard and mules had been removed a half hour before to another point some fifty yards off.

My admiration for the camels increases daily with my experience of them. The harder the test they are put to the more fully they seem to justify all that can be said of them. They pack water for others four days under a hot sun and never get a drop; they pack heavy burdens of corn and oats for months and never get a grain; and on the bitter greasewood and other worthless shrubs not only subsist but keep fat; withal, they are so perfectly docile and so admirably contented with whatever fate befalls them. No one could do justice to their merits or value in expeditions of this kind, and I look forward to the day when every mail route across the continent will be conducted and worked altogether with this economical and noble brute.

In the morning I shall send off Mr. Thorburn and ten men ahead, p62to Bill Williams' river, to explore for a road, and shall start myself with three to look for water in the intermediate distance. I am determined, before leaving, to make sure work, and know every foot of country between here and the Colorado, so as to make no mistakes. Our explorations to north and west, which we have carried on for the past two weeks, convince me that in that direction water is too scarce for a road, but I do not regret the trouble we have had in examining the country. The knowledge we have gained of it fully compensating for the hardships. The country we have been exploring to the north of our road is evidently that described by Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sitgreaves.

[September 25, Thayer's Note: Beale's report is, somewhat understandably, at some variance with the events as reported by Stacey: see Stacey's diary, Sept. 26.]

September 27. Camp 18. The day has been passed in  p234 getting off Thorburn's expedition, which started at noon, and also that of part of my escort, which I determined to send back from this place, having no further use for them, and not wishing to deprive the quartermaster's department of the teams used for their transportation. I sent back a corporal and twelve men, with four wagons and their teamsters, retaining a sergeant and six men, with one wagon.

In the evening we repacked our wagons, ready for a start tomorrow, intending to move to Alexander's cañon, where we found water day before yesterday.

The weather is clear and pleasant, though cool at night. A few nights ago, ice formed in the bottom of a bucket.

The climate here is so pure and dry that we frequently dry mutton, when we have killed more than the rations, and keep it, without its spoiling, for a week. It is not found necessary to jerk it, but simply to lay it in the sun and air (sides and hams) on the bushes.

September 28. Camp 19. We left King's creek at 3 o'clock, and travelled nine miles and a half, when we encamped on a slight eminence covered with excellent grass, and with a scanty growth of cedars; but where there was no water.

We passed over a rolling prairie, from King's creek to this place, having no timber upon it, but grass everywhere good. We saw many antelopes on the plain, the soil of which is clay mixed with gravel.

The weather this evening is quite cool, with a light southerly breeze and a few clouds. We arrived in camp at 6.

September 29. Camp 20. Left camp at 5.30 A.M., and arrived here, at Alexander's cañon, at 12.

 p235  Our road this morning was by the trail we made three days ago in going from this place to King's creek. We followed a gradually ascending valley the entire distance, from last night's camp, until within three miles of this, when we crossed a divide which intervenes between the waters flowing north into the great plain and those flowing southwardly into some of the tributaries of the Gila or Colorado. On either side of the narrow valley we came up stretched the mesas, which I have previously spoken of as running like headlands out into the plain.

Their slopes and broad flat summits were covered with pine and cedar, though the latter growth predominated. The grass, gramma, abundant on all sides.

The soil in places is rocky with a great deal of obsidian scattered over it; where it was not rocky, it was of clay and coarse gravel.

p63 The weather today has been delightfully pleasant, reminding one of the pleasant autumn weather of Virginia or Maryland, though the nights are cold and the early morning air keen and fresh; so that our mules made nothing of the fifteen and a half miles which we have travelled today.

On arriving here my first care was the pool of water we had left. On examination I found it but little diminished by evaporation, there being still enough left, I hope, for our purposes until we find more in advance of us; though the delay of hunting ahead is very great, besides giving both men and animals much additional labor. If it were not that the grass is so good and abundant, our mules and horses would soon sink under this double duty; but as it is, they are in fine condition; thanks to the good grazing. We have  p236 made a southwest course today, and, tomorrow, hope to strike out more to the westward. Abundance of deer and antelope, constantly in sight, render our ride, this morning, a most agreeable one. The deer were of the species known as black-tailed. Bear sign was also frequent, though Cuffee did not show himself in person.

September 30. Camp 20. Today has been spent in exploring the country ahead for water. A fine pool and two springs were found, nine miles off, due west of us, and to this I shall move with the train in the morning.

Our present camp, at Alexander's cañon, is at the northern base of a high conical mountain, which we at first thought to be the Picacho of Whipple; but it does not agree with his description or position. It is the southern termination of a long range of table mountains, dividing the waters flowing north into the Colorado and Little Colorado and those which find their way into the same river below the bend. The centre peak is sharp, and has upon its northern side a singular grove of aspen, growing on the steep ascent, near the top. Looking at it from the north, it has upon the right two smaller and lower peaks, and on the left, one; altogether, with mountains Thorburn and San Francisco, it forms the most prominent landmark in this vicinity. The cedar growth here is quite heavy and abundant; I measured one tree today sixteen feet in circumference, and it was by no means the largest I saw. Pine is scarce and small, though we occasionally find it in patches on the elevated mesas we are now encamped on. Yesterday, in exploring, I found walnut trees of small size, in many places. Within a mile of camp, I found a circular hole on the level table land, which much resembled Jacob's well, heretofore described,  p237 excepting that the sides were of volcanic rock. The soil over which my explorations led me today was generally of a rich character, producing everywhere fine grass; for the most part it was clay and gravel, with occasionally spaces of considerable extent covered with large and loose volcanic rock; timber everywhere. The weather is warm; evening cloudy.


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