Personal narrative of explorations and incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, volume 2: Connected with the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission, during the years 1850, '51, '52 and '53 [Digital Version]

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Bartlett, John Russell, 1805-1886., Personal narrative of explorations and incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, volume 2 (London ;New York: D. Appleton and Company ;G. Routledge & Co., 1854)

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Title: Personal narrative of explorations and incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, volume 2: Connected with the United States and Mexican Boundary Commission, during the years 1850, '51, '52 and '53 [Digital Version]
Funding from: Funding for the creation of this digitized text is provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Author: Bartlett, John Russell, 1805-1886.
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Publisher: Rice University, Houston, Texas
Publication date: 2010-06-07
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Description: Printed document with illustrations, 624 pp. Volume 2.
Source(s): Bartlett, John Russell, 1805-1886., Personal narrative of explorations and incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora, and Chihuahua, volume 2 (London ;New York: D. Appleton and Company ;G. Routledge & Co., 1854)
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This text has been encoded based on recommendations from Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Any comments on editorial decisions for this document are included in footnotes within the document with the author of the note indicated. All digitized texts have been verified against the original document. Quotation marks have been retained. For printed documents: Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved. No corrections or normalizations have been made, except that hyphenated, non-compound words that appear at the end of lines have been closed up to facilitate searching and retrieval. For manuscript documents: Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved. We have recorded normalizations using the reg element to facilitate searchability, but these normalizations may not be visible in the reading version of this electronic text
Languages used in the text: English
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Keywords: Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus
  • Books
  • Memoirs
Keywords: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Southwest, New--Description and travel
  • Chihuahua (Mexico : State)--Description and travel
  • Sonora (Mexico : State)--Description and travel
  • United States--Boundaries--Mexico
  • Mexico--Boundaries--United States
  • Indians of North America--Southwest, New
Keywords: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
  • Texas (state)
  • New Mexico (state)
  • California (state)
  • Sonora (state)
  • Chihuahua (state)
  • United States (nation)
  • Mexico (nation)





DURING THE YEARS 1850, '51, '52, AND '53.






Arrival of Dr. Webb and his party—Dr. Webb's report of his journey—
State of the Survey—Reduction of the Commission—Advance of wages
—Diegeno Indians—H'hana Indians—Leave for San Francisco—Its fine
harbor—Extensive commerce—Great activity and enterprise of its people
—Origin of its name—Contrast between the wants of the Californians
in 1770 and 1850—Trip to the Geysers—Benicia—Application to Gen.
Hitchcock for an escort to the Commission on its journey back—Vallejo
—Napa village—Napa valley—Its beauty and fertility—Mr. Yaunt
—His history—Red-wood trees—Their great height—Enormous yield
of vegetables—Thermal springs
Mount Helena—Russian inscription—Digger Indians—Dwellings—Mode
of fishing—Dress—Pass the mountains—Meet bear hunters—Mode of
cooking without utensils—Pluton River—The Geysers—Description of


these phenomena—Effect of the water on wood—Extent of volcanic
action—Return to camp—Abundance of grizzly bears—Recross the
mountains—Return through Napa valley—Visit to the Obsidian hills
—Extensive use of this material by the Indians—Return to San Francisco.
Leave San Francisco—San Jose valley—Fertility of the soil—Mission of
Santa Clara—San Jose—New Almaden—Quicksilver mine—Mode of
extracting the ore—Large tanks of quicksilver—Account of the quick-silver
mines of Spain—Production of this metal in all parts of the
world—Situation of the New Almaden mine—Descent into it—How
worked—Laborers—Extent of the mine—Effect of the mercury on
laborers—History of the mine—Return to San Francisco—Captain Sutter
—His history.
Leave San Francisco—Monterey—Its harbor—Society—Californian ladies
—Father Juniper Serro's account of Monterey in 1770—Visit to the
Mission of San Carlos at Carmel—Father Garces' visit in 177—Leave
Monterey—Point Conception—San Pedro—Visit to Los Angeles—Rich
prairies—Large herds of cattle—Vineyards and wines—Indians of the
Missions—Mission of San Gabriel—Return to San Pedro—Craw fish—
Arrival at San Diego—Preparations for return to El Paso—Engage Mr.
Leroux as guide—Trip to Los Coronados—Description of these islands
—Sea lions—Climate of San Diego—Visit to the Mission of San Luis
Rey—Extensive buildings—Fine valley—Kechi Indians—History of
Father Peyri—Description of the harbor of San Diego—Viscaino's account
of San Diego in 1602—Father Juniper Serro's account in 1769—
Mission of San Diego—Picturesque situation—Fine lands—Olive trees
Society of San Diego—Initial Point and monument on the Pacific.



Preparations for the journey to El Paso—Leave San Diego—Accident to
wagon—Snook's rancho—San Pasqual—Gen. Kearney's battle at this
place—Indian village—San Pasqual mountain—Difficult ascent—Reach
camp at Santa Isabel—Deficiency of transportation—Leroux despatched
for another wagon—Indians of Santa Isabel—A Mormon arrives with
a wagon—List of return party—Journey resumed—Luxuriant valley—
San Felipe—Indians—Their mode of life—Narrow mountain pass—
Vallecita—Desert appearance—Carrizo creek—Increased barrenness—
Intense heat—Mules run away—Skeletons and carcasses of animals—
Immense destruction of sheep—Utter desolation—Wagon upset—Sacket's
well—Dig for water—Meet Lieut. Sweeney in pursuit of deserters
from Fort Yuma—Arrival of bearer of despatches—Alamo Mucho.
The Desert—Dry basin—"New River"—Alarming news from the Train—
Colonel Craig's encounter with the deserters from Fort Yuma—Report
of Sergeant Quin—Dr. Webb returns in search of Colonel Craig and
Sergeant Bale—Loss of wagons on the desert—Great heat—Return of
party with the body of Colonel Craig—Sergeant Bale's return—Further
particulars of the encounter with the deserters—Burial of Colonel Craig
Word sent to San Diego—Prompt action of Colonel Magruder—Arrest
of the murderers by Indians, and their execution—Colonel Craig's character
and services—March resumed—Cooke's well—Colorado river—
Banks washed away—A passage cut through the woods—Arrival at
Fort Yuma—Depredations by the Yuma Indians on the camp at night
—Unsuccessful pursuit—Lieut. Whipple commences crossing the Colorado.


Crossing of the Colorado continued—Description of Fort Yuma—The Colorado
and Gila rivers—The adjacent country—Rich alluvial bottoms—
Facility of irrigation—Ruins of the old Spanish Missions—Difficulty of
supplying Fort Yuma—Plan for surveying the head waters of the Gulf
of California—Frustrated by Colonel Graham—Discovery of the Colorado
in 1540 by Alarchon—Later voyages—Difficulties in navigating
the Colorado—Attempt of a steamer to ascend the river—Its velocity
and height—Fort Defiance—Massacre of Dr. Langdon and his party by
the Yumas—Indians of the Colorado—Early tribes not identified—The
Yumas—Cocopas—Mohavis—Extent of Alarchon's voyage in 1542—
Fathers Kino, Font, and Garces.
Leave Fort Yuma—Absence of grass along the Gila—Petahaya or Giant
Cereus—Gila trout—Meet the surveying party—Inscribed rocks—Excessive
heat—Night marches—Wagons found—How caches are made—
Particulars of the murder of Mr. Oatman and his wife—Basin of the
Gila—More sculptured rocks—Cross the Jornada—Great bend of the
river—Another desert—Toilsome march—Reach the Coco-Maricopa
Visit from the Coco-Maricopa Indians—Camp removed to the banks of the
Gila—The river dry, and no grass—War party—Return to our first
camp—Traffic with these Indians—Farther accounts of the Oatman
family—Francisco, the Maricopa interpreter—Feeding the tribe—Visit
from the Pimos—Religious notions of these tribes—Their manners and
customs—Agriculture—Art of spinning and weaving—Manufactures of
cotton—Pottery—Basket-work—Dress—Their attempts at collecting
zoological specimens—Villages—Houses and mode of building—Store
houses—Horses and cattle.


Journey to the river Salinas—Its rich bottom-lands—Large stream—Pimo
Indians—Ruined buildings—Mounds—Broken pottery—Traces of irrigating
canals—Ancient population probably large—Return towards
the Pimo villages—Are taken for Apaches—Arrival at camp—Arrival
of Lieutenant Whipple—Survey of the Gila completed—Trade reopened
with the Coco-Maricopas—Presents—Tribe of Cawenas—Remove
to the Pimo villages—Cola Azul and the Pimos—Traffic with
them—Conference—Giving presents—Arrival of Mexican traders—
Return of Lieutenant Paige with the escort—Leave the villages.
History of the Coco-Maricopas and Pimos—Origin of their semi-civilization
—Difference of languages—Their number—Physical peculiarities—
Deserving the attention of Christians and philanthropists—Early accounts
of these Indians—First described by Father Kino in 1697—
Sedelmayer's visit to them in 1744—Father Font's in 1775—Visit to the
Casas Grandes of the Gila—Description of these ruins—Evidences of a
former large population—Irrigating canals—Broken pottery—Father
Font's description of these buildings—Singular error in relation to their
dimensions—Kino and Mangi's visit to them in 1694—Notion of the
Aztec origin of these buildings not well founded—Excessive heat
Leave the Gila—Terrific storm on the desert—Encounter a party of Americans
at midnight—Stopped by the darkness—Unpleasant situation—
Pack mules and cattle missing—Picacho mountain—Vegetation of the
desert—Second night's march—Arrival at Tucson—General Blanco—
Arrival of Mexican troops—Campaign against the Apaches—Meet Mr.
Coons with 14,000 sheep—-His disasters—Visit from General Blanco


and his officers—Repairs on wagons—Tucson and its valley—Meteorite
San Xavier del Bac—Beautiful church—Spanish and Anglo-Saxon colonization
—Incessant rains—Presidio of Tubac—Meet Inez Gonzales the
captive girl—Her sad fate—uncertainty of irrigated lands—California
emigrants—Calabasa—Picturesque valley—Tumacacori—San Lazaro
—More emigrants—Reach Santa Cruz.
Shoeing mules and repairing wagons at Santa Cruz—Standing guard—Sad
fate of Inez Gonzales—Sickness of the town—Boldness of the Apaches
and their constant inroads—Wretched state of the people—Leave Santa
Cruz—Country assumes a new aspect—Rio San Pedro—Enter the
mountains—Agua Prieta—Prepare for a fight—False alarm—Meet
Colonel Garcia with Mexican troops—Enter Guadalupe Pass—Wagon
upset—Description of the country—A better route suggested—Take
the Janos road—More emigrants and their encounter with a bear—Two
human bodies found—Open country—Reach Janos
Janos, an old military post—Its decline—Aid a party of American emigrants
—A Thomsonian doctor—Difficulty in fording the Casas Grandes
river—Arrival at Correlitos—Smelting works—Unhealthiness of the
people—Barranca Colorado—Visit to the town of Casas Grandes—Extensive
ruins—Resemblance to those on the Gila—Fertile valley—The
river and its tributaries—Modern town—Return to Correlitos.
Leave Correlitos—Visit the silver mines of Messrs. Flotte and Zuloaga—
Attempt of a peon to escape—Rio Santa Maria—Recent fight of Americans


with the Apaches here—Broad open plains—Continued rain—The
Salado—The Medanos or Sand Hills—Painful night's march—Samalayuca
—Arrival at El Paso del Norte


Preparations for completing the Survey of the southern boundary of New
Mexico—Withdrawal of the military from El Paso—Importance of El
Paso as a military post—Its business—Encroachments of the Apaches
—Depredations of the Comanches—Suggestions for a better protection
of the frontier—Colonel Langberg—Visit to Fort Fillmore—The Mesilla
valley—Visit to the Organ mountains—Silver mines—Grand
scenery—Return—Bracito and its battle-field—Preparations for leaving
El Paso—Mail party attacked by the Comanches—Decide to go by way
of Chihuahua—Laxity of the Mexican custom house—Departure of
Lieutenant Whipple and party for the Gila—Organization of parties.
Departure from El Paso—Accident at the start—Farewell to friends—San
Eleazario—Fording the Rio Grande—Wagon upset—Guadalupe—Ascend
the table-land—Grassy plains, and open country—Ojo de Lucero
—Laguna de los Patos—Country overflowed—Wagon mired—More
accidents—Carrizal—Ojo Caliente—Rio Carmen—Encounter with the
Apaches—A man killed—Animals lost—Ojo de Callejo—Mexican soldiers
—Precautions to avoid a surprise—Laguna de Encinillas—El
Penol—El Sauz—Rio Sacramento—Battlefield—Notice of the battle
—Arrival at Chihuahua


Repairs on wagons—Mr. Flotte and his persecutions—The road infected by
Comanche Indians—Guard hired—General Trias—Governor Cordero
—A dinner and ball—Ladies of Chihuahua—Dinner to General Trias
—Obtain important documents relating to the boundary—Description
of Chihuahua—Causes of its decline—Its mines—The expulsion of the
Spaniards—Labors of the Jesuits—Aqueduct—The Cathedral—Mine of
Santa Eulalia—Casa de Moneda—Commerce—How carried on—Agricultural
products—Alfalfa and its value—Heaps of scoria—Grazing
lands—The plateau—Immense herds of cattle—-Height of the table
land—Climate—Diminutive dogs
Departure from Chihuahua—Additional escort—Mr. Flotte with his family
join us—Bachimba—Santa Cruz—Grist mill—Smelting works—Saucillo
—Attack of the Comanches—La Cruz—Las Garzas—Ford the Conchas
—Santa Rosalia—Its defences erected against the Americans during
the war—Ramada—Rio Florido—Guajuquilla—Fertile valley—
Monument to our Lady of Guadalupe—Search for meteorites—Hacienda
—Blanca—Wagon upset in an acequia—Hacienda de Concepcion—
Curious mass of meteoric iron—Account of meteorites in the vicinity—
Hacienda del Rio Florido
A mule kidnapped—La Noria—Cerro Gordo—Enter the State of Durango
—Another escort—Miserable condition of the Mexican soldiers—Recent
battle here with the Comanches—La Zarca—Vast herds of cattle and
horses—Scarcity of wood—Droves of horses—San Pedro del Gallo—
Rio Nasas—Fertile valley—Culture of cotton—Corn-fields without irrigation
—La Noria de Pedrecina—Silver mines—Cuencame—Another


escort of civilians—La Noria Curena—Rio Buenaval—Pozo Calvo—
Depredations of the Comanches—Alamo de Parras—Viesca mines—
La Pena—Break down—Cold weather—El Pozo—Recent incursion of
Indians—Reach Parras
Parras—Its vineyards—Numerous springs—Orchards—Plantations of the
Agave—Extent of its cultivation—Pulque—Hacienda Arriba—Its extensive
wine vaults and granaries—Visit to the churches—The Alameda
—Departure from Parras—The Hacienda Abajo—Don Manuel de
Ibarra and General Wool—Cienega Grande—Ceguin—Vequeria—
Gigantic Yuccas—Hacienda de Patos—Don Jacobo Sanchez—His large
estates—Claims for indemnification on the United States—Village of
Peons—Encantada—Arrival of a courier with despatches from Washington
—Buena Vista—The Barrancas—Ramble over the battlefield—
Relies found—Reach Saltillo—No work on a feast day—Fine church—
Cotton factories—Dr. Hewison—Economical use of water.
Leave Saltillo—Accident at the start—Enter the Rinconada Pass—A night
in the defile—Los Muertos—Ampudia's redoubt—Magnificent scenery
—Hacienda of the Rinconada—Sierra Mitra—Santa Catarina—Suburbs
of Monterey—Loma de Independencia—Arrival at Monterey—Pronunciamentos
—Visit the Bishop's palace—Beautiful valley—The citadel—
Prosperity of the city—Its climate—Elevation—Departure—Marin—
Ramos—Carrizitos—Dense chapporal—Miss the road—Cerralvo—Puntiagudo
—Bad road—Mier—Trade for serapes—Texan Mier expedition
—Character of the Rio Grande above Mier—Ascent of a steamboat to
Loredo—Ancient oyster beds—Rio San Juan—Mexican brigade—Camargo
—Cross the Rio Grande—Arrival at Ringgold barracks.
Rio Grande surveying parties—State of the Survey—Despatches from
Washington—Proviso affixed by Congress to the appropriation for


the Commission—Letter of the Hon. Alex. H. H. Stuart, Secretary of
the Interior—Money withheld—Compelled to disband the Commission
and return home—Unfortunate situation of the party—Send the
train and government property to San Antonio—Leave for the coast
—The grassy prairies of Texas—San Colorado—Wells at Santa Teresa
—Ravages of the Comanches—Night alarm from mustangs—Abundance
of deer and antelope—Los Olmos—Immense drove of mustangs
—Exciting race over the prairie—Horse lost—The prairie on fire—Rio
San Francisco—Agua Dulce—Arrival at Corpus Christi.
Corpus Christi—Its fine position—Geographical features of the country—
Nueces bay and river—A norther—Its effects on the fish in the lagunas
—Leave Corpus Christi in an open boat—Shallow bays and lagunas
of the Gulf—Vast numbers of water fowl—Bays of Aransas and Espiritu
Santo—Reach Decrow's Point—Matagorda bay and its commerce—
Embark for New Orleans—Galveston—Arrival at New Orleans—Voyage
up the Mississippi, and by way of Louisville, Cincinnati, Cleveland,
Buffalo, and Albany to Providence—Arrival at home—Proceed to Washington.
The Natural history of the regions traversed—Animal life on the deserts
—Quadrupeds—Reptiles, their great variety and number—Peculiar
vegetation of the deserts—The "prairie dog" and its habits—The antelope,
Brief remarks on the geography of the countries traversed by the Boundary
Commission, and upon its adaptation for a railroad connecting the
Atlantic with the Pacific.


Remarks on the introduction of Camels as a means of transportation on
the prairies and deserts of the interior.
INDEX. 607



5. " " MEN, 34
6. " " WOMEN, 34
20. " " " 196
21. " " " 196



24. " " " 206
25. " " " 206
29. SKIN POUCH, 228
41. GROUND PLAN OF " " 276
47. " " " 348
51. " " " 360





1. RUINS AT CASAS GRANDES, CHIHUAHUA, (to face title-page.)
3. " " " 40
(to face title-page, vol. 1.)


Arrival of Dr. Webb and his party—Dr. Webb's report of his journey—
State of the survey—Reduction of the Commission—Advance of wages
—Diegeno Indians—H'hana Indians—Leave for San Francisco—Its fine
harbor—Extensive commerce—Great activity and enterprise of its people—
Origin of its name—Contrast between the wants of the Californians
in 1770 and 1850—Trip to the Geysers—Benicia—Application to
Gen. Hitchcock for an escort to the Commission on its journey back—
Vallejo—Napa village—Napa valley—Its beauty and fertility—Mr
Yaunt—His history—Red-wood trees—Their great height—Enormous
yield of vegetables—Thermal springs.

ON the 11th February, Dr. Webb, with his party,
reached San Diego, most of them on foot. They
had experienced great privations, and had lost the
larger portion of their animals by famine. The
following letter from Dr. Webb shows the character
of his journey.


I have the honor to announce that I arrived
here with the little party under my direction on the


11th instant, all in good health and spirits, notwithstanding
we had to encounter numerous difficulties,
undergo some hardships, endure some privations—to
be exposed to the hostile attacks and depredations of
Indians, and subjected to the loss of most of our animals
and much of our clothing, &c., and were necessarily
placed on short allowance—compelled to walk a
large portion of the distance, and be our own escort
and night guard.

"The mail closes so very soon, that it is impossible
for me to render, in detail, a report of the trip at this
time. I can only state, in brief, that the party consisted
of twelve individuals and twenty-seven riding
and pack-mules.

"The animals, which were mostly feeble at the
outset, and consequently not suited for such a journey,
soon gave convincing proofs that they could not hold
out, and daily, after leaving the Pimo villages, became
reduced in number—sinking under the combined
influence of excessive heat, deficiency of grazing, and
destitution of water. Of the twenty-seven, but three
were in a suitable condition to be brought in; five
more I left at Williams's rancho, about fifty miles distant,
to recruit; and the remainder sank under their
loads at various places on the desert, and were necessarily
abandoned to their fate; which was either to fall
into the hands of roving Indians, who, like so many
hungry vultures, were continually hovering around,
anxiously awaiting an opportunity to avail themselves
of any accident or misfortune that might occur,
whereby they could gain possession of any of our property;
or should they elude the Indians, their fate most


inevitably was, in their enfeebled state, to become an
easy prey to the hungry wolves, which in great numbers
were constantly prowling about, making night
hideous with their howlings; and not unfrequently so
impatient were they to seize upon the poor animals,
that they could be seen skulking close to our camp in
broad daylight.

"The loss of pack-mules of course occasioned a
sacrifice of much other property, as we had no relief
mules with us. Most of our cooking utensils were
dropped from time to time, at various places on the
route. We had also to cache all of our camp stools
and other furniture, some of our bedding, much clothing,
books, papers, etc. Eventually, we were compelled
to abandon our tents: so that rain or shine, wet or
dry, we had to stop at the end of our day's journey in
the open air, without any means of protection by day
from the scorching heat of the sun; and at night we
stretched out upon the ground, unsheltered from the
inclemency of the weather, and the cold searching
blasts and chilly atmosphere, though at mid-day the
dry, brain-burning heat, was almost too much to bear.
Soon after sunset, an icy feeling, nearly as intolerable,
would pervade us; the variations between night and
day often amounting to sixty and seventy degrees of

"Twelve days of the journey I walked, having
relinquished my animal for pack-mule purposes before
we reached the junction of the Gila and Colorado
Rivers. Subsequently, others followed the example;
until at length but two retained possession of animals.


"We had no escort; and therefore, after walking
all day, we were obliged to take our turns at standing
guard at night. Our provisions became so diminished
in quantity as to compel me to put the whole party on
short allowance. We lived principally on meat, mush,
and mutton, without any vegetables. But one sheep
(long, lank, raw-boned animals) was allowed to
twelve men for four days, and even then our last meat
was consumed a week before our arrival; and we were
forced to deprive ourselves of a portion of our mush
to furnish food to our animals, owing to the entire
absence, for several days on our route, of all grass,
shrubs, and trees.

"Much is said by travellers respecting the desert
of Sahara; but, in barrenness of verdure, destitution of
water, tremendous storms of sand, etc., etc., it is
doubtful if any tract of land can surpass the jornada
which we crossed. Indeed much of this country, that
by those residing at a distance is imagined to be a
perfect paradise, is a sterile waste, utterly worthless
for any purpose than to constitute a barrier or natural
line of demarcation between two neighboring nations.

"Notwithstanding our many perils, privations, and
suffering, mostly attributable, when traced to the true
source, to our imperfect outfit at the Copper Mines,
from the negligence, wilfulness, or some other unjustifiable
cause on the part of those whose duty it was to
attend to the business; notwithstanding the many
additional obstacles thrown in the way; notwithstanding
the continued succession of disappointments which
we encountered in numerous shapes, and of varied
hue, where the doing or neglecting to do, depended


upon the will of man; thanks to the protecting care of
a divine and overruling Providence, we escaped unharmed
from the many dangers with which we were
surrounded, and the difficulties in which we were
involved, and have brought in our little party in the
enjoyment, as already observed, of good health and

"I remain, sir, very respectfully, yours,
Secretary to Boundary Commission. "HON. J. R. BARTLETT,
"Commissioner, etc."

The animals brought in by the several parties were
greatly reduced by their long and painful journey,
owing chiefly to their poor and scanty food along the
Gila, and from that river to the coast. They were now
placed in a grassy valley near the mission, some five or
six miles distant, where the feed was pretty good; but
they were so completely broken down, that many
weeks would be necessary to recruit them. The surveying
parties during this time were engaged in reducing
their observations and in plotting their maps.

Although the entire boundary along the river Gila
was not completed, it was a source of peculiar satisfaction
to me that we had accomplished so much. It is
more than the most sanguine in the Commission
expected to perform in so short a space of time, surrounded,
as the operating parties were, with so many
serious impediments. To cross a wilderness, such as
it may in truth be called, from the Rio Grande to the


Pacific Ocean, a distance of more than eight hundred
miles, would at any time be a labor of difficulty. But
when this whole line is through a desolate region, with
a scanty supply of grass for the animals; with large
tracts destitute of water, and no means of procuring
provisions; and furthermore, when nearly the entire
distance is invested by hostile Indians, the work is one
for the near completion of which we could not be too
thankful. The whole came through in good health,
and with the loss of but one man, Thomas Harper, an
attendant on instruments in Lieutenant Whipple's
party, who was unfortunately drowned whilst bathing
in the Colorado. The amount of public property lost
or abandoned on the journey was not large, and could
easily be replaced in this country.

During my short stay at San Diego, I was busily
occupied in paying off and reducing the Commission.
Several of the assistants desired to leave here, and the
larger portion of the mechanics and laborers. In fact,
I found it difficult to keep such as were necessary to
take care of the animals and other property, as well as
the cooks and servants needed to attend the several
messes. Wages were exceedingly high, and I was
compelled to advance the pay of all that remained to
the California rates, which were from fifty to eighty
dollars a month for servants, cooks, teamsters, and
herdsmen. After reducing the parties, and placing
those who remained in comfortable quarters (for the
weather was cold and wet), I made my arrangements
to go to San Francisco, in order to procure a new outfit
of tents and camp equipage; to have the instruments
repaired and put in order; to lay in provisions for our


return; and to negotiate my drafts on the government
to meet these several expenditures, as well as to pay
the officers and men attached to the Commission.

No event that is worthy of mention occurred here,
except a visit from a band of Diegeno Indians. A
chief and several of his tribe were sent to me at my
request by a Californian gentleman. They were a miserable,
ill-looking set, with dark brown complexions
and emaciated bodies; and though the weather was
cold, they were but slightly clad. Articles of old and
cast-off clothing, such as a tattered shirt and pantaloons,
were all that the best could boast of. One, I
think the chief, had a piece of a horse blanket around
his cadaverous-looking body. I managed to get from
them a vocabulary of their language; though I must
confess that, with the exception of the Apache, I never
found one so difficult to express, in consequence of the
gutturals and nasals with which it abounded. I finally
got the words so correct, that the Indians could recognise
them, and give me the Spanish equivalents. I
tried to write down some short sentences, but was
obliged to give up the attempt as unsuccessful. I could
not combine the words so as to be understood, in a
single instance. These Indians occupy the coast for
some fifty miles above, and about the same distance
below, San Diego, and extend about a hundred miles
into the interior. They are the same who were known
to the first settlers as the Comeya tribe.

I also found an Indian here from the Upper Sacramento
River. He had been taken prisoner by the
American troops about three years before, and was now
living with some of the officers. He was quick and


intelligent, and answered promptly my questions relative
to his tribe and country. I could not, however,
ascertain the precise locality of his people, which he
called the H'hana tribe—the H a deep guttural. I got
from him a complete vocabulary of his language.

On the 24th of February, I embarked with several
officers of the Commission in the steamer Sea Bird, for
San Francisco. The boat stopped on the way at the
several ports of San Pedro, Santa Barbara, and Monterey;
but as the weather was boisterous and attended
with rain, I did not land. On the evening of the 27th
we reached San Francisco.

To give an account of this wonderful city which
has sprung into existence in the last four years, and
whose rapid growth and extraordinary prosperity have
astonished the world, is not my intention. No city on
the face of the globe has ever attained the position that
San Francisco has in the same period; and it is yet
progressing. It is now almost the first in population
on the western coast of the American continent; and
but a few years will elapse before it will surpass all the
rest. In point of commerce, the great ports of Europe
and on the Atlantic coast of the United States alone,
can vie with it. As the outlet of the principal and
almost only rivers of California, it will continue to
bear the same relation to the interior as New Orleans
and New York do to the United States east of the Rocky
Mountains. The harbor of San Francisco is one of the
most spacious in the world, easy of access, of a convenient
depth for anchorage, and protected from storms.
The city itself now presents a strange medley of buildings,
from the rudest hovel and canvas tent to the elegant


mansion and the most substantial warehouses.
The former, however, are rapidly giving way to the
latter; and now that bricks of a superior quality are
made here, and excellent building stone is found near
at hand, no one will think of putting up wooden buildings
within the city. In the streets of San Francisco all is
bustle and confusion. Crowds are constantly passing and
repassing. The wharves are thickly lined with magnificent
ships from every quarter of the globe, pouring in
their thousands of immigrants, and discharging their
valuable cargoes. The ocean steamers, each bearing from
five hundred to one thousand passengers, are weekly
arriving; while the river boats, which take their daily
departure for the interior every morning and evening,
present the same moving crowds going and coming as
the Hudson River boats at New York. All go full; and
one is as much puzzled to find a spare seat or stool on
which to rest his weary limbs, as on board the excursion
boats from our Atlantic cities. The stages and
other means of conveyance are equally crowded. The
throng moves to and fro, from the city to the mines
and the interior, and thence back again to the city.
Go to the business streets, and the auctioneer's hammer
is heard at every turn, knocking off to the anxious
bidder every article of commerce. Stocks, gold mines,
ships, whole cargoes of merchandise, are bought and
sold with the same freedom as in the Royal Exchange
of London, the Bourse of Paris, or in Wall-street, New
York. There are customers for every thing, and an
abundance of gold to meet any purchase however large.
There is no project too great for the Californian of the
present day. He is ready for any undertaking, whether


it be to make a railroad to the Atlantic, to swallow up
Mexico, or invade the empire of Japan. New York is
now the first city on the American continent, and San
Francisco is destined ere long to be second.

San Francisco is said to have obtained its name in
the following manner: "When Father Juniper Serra
received his orders from the Visitant-general respecting
the names which he was to give to the new missions in
California, he observed that the name of the founder
of their order was not among them, and called the attention
of his superior to the fact, exclaiming, "Is
not our Father San Francisco to have a mission?" to
which the Visitant-general replied, "If San Francisco
desires a mission, let him show you a port, and he shall
have it." In the year 1769 an expedition was dispatched
from San Diego, for the purpose of settling
Monterey. The expedition missed the port, but discovered
a much larger and finer bay further to the
north, which had been till then unknown. The commander
of the expedition and his religious associates
decided that this discovery must be the work of St.
Francis, and accordingly they gave his name to the
place, setting up a cross, and taking possession after the
usual manner.*

To show the striking contrast between the wants
of the zealous priests who colonized California in the
year 1770 and the Americans of 1850, I give another
quotation from a letter written by the same excellent
man to Father Palou. "As May made a year since I
received a letter from any Christian country, your Reverence


will imagine how deficient we are in news: but
for all that, I only ask you and your companions, when
you can get an opportunity, to inform me what our
most holy Father the reigning Pope is called, that I
may put his name in the canon of the mass; also to
say if the canonization of the beatified Joseph Cupertino,
and Serafino de Asculi has taken place; and if
there is any other beatified one, or saint, in order that
I may put them in the calendar, and pray to them;
we having, it would appear, taken our leave of all
printed calendars. Tell me also, if it is true, that the
Indians have killed Father Joseph Soler in Sonora, and
how it happened; and if there are any other friends
defunct, in order that I may commend them to God;
with any thing else your Reverence may think fit to
communicate to a few poor hermits separated from
human society. We proceed to-morrow to celebrate
the feast of Corpus Christi (although in a very poor
manner), in order to scare away whatever imps there
possibly may be in this land."*

The Californians of our day, instead of asking for
information about beatified men or saints, in order to
put them on the calendar and pray to them, would
feel a much deeper interest in knowing the state of
political parties in the Atlantic States, or the prices of
stocks, of sugar, and whiskey; and where one would
care to hear about the Pope of Rome, a hundred would
prefer news respecting the Emperor of China.


For three weeks after I arrived in San Francisco
it rained incessantly, confining me most of the time to
the house. The result was a great rise in the rivers,
so that the mining regions were laid under water, and
became impassable. The Sacramento was so swollen
as to inundate the city of the same name. This state
of things prevented me from visiting the interior, and
particularly the gold region. Having a couple of
weeks still to spare before our camp equipage would
be ready, I determined to avail myself of this brief
space in visiting some of the many interesting objects
in which California abounds. To examine the gold
mines in so short a time with any satisfaction, seemed
impracticable. I therefore concluded to visit some
localities which were less known, and which would be
a greater novelty than the gold region, with which I
already felt pretty well acquainted through the daily
accounts of them in the newspapers. I had heard an
interesting description of some geysers and a volcanic
region at the head of Napa Valley, which I determined
to visit as soon as the travelling would permit.

Accordingly I left San Francisco on the 17th of
March, accompanied by Dr. Webb and Mr. Thurber,
for Benicia, where we arrived in two hours. Our
steamer was crowded with passengers, chiefly bound
for the mines, among whom were a number of Chinese.
These men were dressed in their native costume, and
each carried with him a huge pair of boots, showing
plainly to what region he was destined.

Benicia was for a while the rival of San Francisco;
though I cannot see why such aspirations should have
been indulged in for a moment. It is situated on the


Straits of Carquinez, about thirty miles from San Francisco,
on a gentle slope, which becomes almost a plain
as it approaches the water's edge. It contained at the
time of my visit about 1500 inhabitants, including the
soldiers now stationed here. Its buildings are mostly
of wood, and among these are several hotels. The best
of them is the "American," a neat and well-kept house,
where we stopped. It was then the Head-quarters of
the Pacific division of the U. S. Army. The large
deposit of Quarter-master's and Commissary's stones had
been recently removed hither, and efforts were making
to have the Navy yard here also. The Pacific Mail
Steam Ship Company had its depot here, and next to
the Navy yard was the most valuable accession it could
possibly enjoy. The steamers all lie here until a few
days before sailing, when they move down to San
Francisco. This company furnished much business to
the place with its large coal depot, ship yard, and
various workshops, where several hundred men were
constantly employed. The military post is about a
mile from the town, and consists of a few wooden buildings.

I called on General Hitchcock, commanding the
Pacific division of the U. S. Army, for the purpose of
obtaining an escort for the Commission from San Diego
to the Pimo villages on the Gila. This seemed necessary,
as the command of Colonel Craig amounting to
twenty-five men, which accompanied the surveying
parties down the Gila, had all deserted but five, on
their arrival at San Diego; and of these, three were
non-commissioned officers. General Hitchcock, with
the promptness and liberality which have ever distinguished


him, at once acceded to my request, and gave
me an order on the commanding officers at San Diego
and Fort Yuma to furnish me with such a force as they
deemed necessary.

It was from Benicia that we were to take the road
to Napa Valley. On making known to General Hitch-cock
my desire to visit the Geysers, he kindly furnished
me with horses and a pack-mule for the purpose. To
Major Allen, the Quarter-master, I am also indebted
for his promptness in facilitating the wishes of myself
and party in our proposed trip, and for sending me a
trusty man.

March 19th.

Our horses, mule, and attendant were
promptly at the door by 7 o'clock; and after breakfast
we took our departure. Proceeding along the
shores of the bay, we passed the great projected city
of Vallejo, the once intended capital of the State. It
now stands naked and alone, its large houses tenantless.
As the capital of California it might have become
a place of importance; but without such factitious aid
there is nothing to build it.

Here we entered Napa Valley. The hills on both
sides as well as the valley were covered with a luxuriant
growth of wild oats, and immense herds of cattle
were roaming about feasting on them. Wild flowers
of varied hues were thickly scattered around, and every
thing showed that the heavy and continued rains had
given new life to vegetation. Our course was now a
northerly one, directly up the valley. Napa Creek,
which we saw at a distance, makes up it, and affords
sufficient water for small vessels, several of which we
saw gliding up. The valley soon became perfectly


level, without a hill or depression. In many places
ploughmen were at work turning up the soil, which
was of the richest description. Barley appeared to be
the principal grain sowed, this being in more general
use for horses than oats, and found to give a better
yield. In one place I noticed a hill, the whole of which
had been sowed with barley, presenting a field of more
than a hundred acres. The soil here was loose; and
as the water had run off, the ground was in a fit state
for cultivation. The valley below was still very wet,
and would not be in a fit state to plough for weeks
yet. On this account, the declivities possess an advantage
for early planting, over the level plains.

At 2 o'clock reached the village of Napa, where
we dined. Distance travelled, twenty miles. The
road was excellent, except in two places, where the
valley was still wet, and where our horses sank deep
in the mud. Napa Creek is navigable to this point,
even for vessels of a large burden, should it be necessary
to bring them here, which will hardly be the case.
Near the town is the hulk of a ship. It was bought
by a gentleman in San Francisco for a trifle and brought
here, where it is used as a storeship, as well as for
the residence of the owner and his family. She cost
much less than it would have done to erect a small
dwelling, and the owner has besides the advantage of
a large warehouse. She lay close by the river's bank;
and with a doorway cut in her side, the entrance was
made quite easy. A steamboat now runs to San Francisco,
which will tend to populate rapidly this beautiful
valley, and render the town of Napa the centre of one
of the richest agricultural districts in the State. After


dinner we rode five miles, to the house of Joseph W.
Osborne, Esq., a merchant of San Francisco, who had
invited me to make him a visit. Mr. O. had preceded
us a couple of days, and met us at his gate,
giving us a warm reception.

Mr. Osborne's place was the most beautiful and
picturesque I had seen in the valley. In fact, it was
the only house wherein there was any attempt at taste
and comfort; for the country was too new to expect
much in this way yet. But even his was a small and
unpretending cottage after the New England fashion.
The valley here is about four miles in width. Where
it opens on St. Pablo Bay it is about six miles, but it
gradually contracts towards the north. At the entrance
it is an open plain, destitute of trees, and covered with
luxuriant grass; but here it assumes a new aspect,
such a one, too, as I had not before seen in the country.
It is now studded with gigantic oaks, some of
them evergreen, though not so close together as to
render it necessary to cut any away to prepare the
land for cultivation. These magnificent oaks are found
sometimes in long lines, and again in clusters of twenty
or thirty, forming beautiful groves; then again a space
of ten or twenty acres will occur without a single tree.
If this romantic valley were transferred to the older
countries of Europe, it would be taken for the domain
of a prince or a nobleman. It answers to the idea one
has of the old and highly cultivated parks of England,
where taste and money have been lavished with an
unsparing hand, through many generations. As one
emerges from or enters each grove, he involuntarily
expects some venerable castle or mansion to appear;


or to find himself among some secluded villages. But
in the entire length of the valley there are no houses
to be found within a less distance than five miles of
each other, and these too of the most humble and
unpretending character. What is singular, and to me
unaccountable in these groves of large trees is, that
there are no young ones, none but the venerable and
full-grown oaks, which, doubtless, for centuries have
held exclusive sway over this wide-spread and beautiful
domain. Nor is there any undergrowth of other
trees and shrubs. I can only account for this deficiency
by attributing it to fires since the occupation of
the country by the Spaniards; or, by supposing that
the immense herds of cattle, which for a century past
have occupied the valley, have browsed upon the
shrubs and young trees, until they destroyed them,
and afterwards kept down the shoots as they sprang

The valley is hemmed in on both sides by ranges
of low mountains, running north and south, which are
generally covered to their very summits with forest
trees. Here and there bold rocks jut out, presenting
the most fantastic outlines; while between the valley
and the mountains runs a lower range of rounded
hills, dotted with small bushy oaks and pines, which
present a fine contrast with the more sombre hues of
the mountain foliage. Occasionally the gigantic palo
(red wood) raises its tall head far above every
other object, making even the huge oaks appear

In the midst of the valley winds a small stream,
called Napa Creek, its course marked by the graceful


willows that grow along its margin. This creek is chiefly
supplied by springs near the head of the valley; but
during the rainy season several mountain torrents
empty their waters into it—indeed, some of them I
was told contribute a portion during the whole year.

The larger portion of Napa Valley was still in the
state in which nature had left it, but had all been
taken up by recent settlers, and was fast being brought
into cultivation. A road had just been laid out
through its centre, and every farmer was occupied in
marking out his land and dividing it into lots inclosed
by substantial rail fences. Ploughs were cutting up
the virgin sward in all directions; and in one place I
saw a ditching machine in operation. It answered
the double purpose of making a ditch four or five feet
wide, with an embankment of sufficient height to
answer for a fence or wall. This machine was worked
by two or three oxen and a windlass. It is a rapid
method of accomplishing two most important objects;
and the mound is said to keep the cattle out as well as
a high fence.

Mr. Osborne's men were all New England farmers,
several of them from Rhode Island; and it is astonishing
to see how much more work one of these men
will perform than a Mexican or Californian. He pays
them seventy-five dollars a month, and finds them,
which pays him better than employing ordinary hands
at half the price. Mr. O. has owned this property but
one year; and a furrow was never turned on it or a
seed sown, until he came into possession. He has now
more than a hundred acres under cultivation, a considerable
portion of which is protected by a post and


rail fence of red wood. Many fruit trees, grape vines,
flowering shrubs, etc., are in a flourishing condition
around his house. In no part of the Atlantic States or
Mississippi Valley could such improvements be shown
in the same time, except on prairie land.

March 20th.

This morning we called on Mr.
Yaunt, a Missourian, and one of the oldest settlers in
the valley. Mr. Y. came here some twelve or fifteen
years ago, and obtained a large grant of land from
the Government; he, however, has cultivated very
little of it, but has used it, like the other great landholders
of the country, for a cattle range. The other
original grantees of land in Napa Valley were Mr.
Fowler, Dr. Bale, an Englishman, and Don Salvador
Vallejo. The usual measure of land in this country,
as well as in Mexico, is the square league, containing
about five thousand acres. Señor Vallejo, who was
the largest proprietor here, owned six square leagues,
or thirty thousand acres. It is well for the country
that these large estates are now being divided and
brought into market. They will, doubtless, ere long
be eagerly sought after, on account of their extraordinary
fertility and beautiful situation, by gentlemen who
wish to get away from the bustle of a great city, and
enjoy the retirement of a country life.*

I was desirous to have Mr. Yaunt accompany us


to the Geysers, and he readily promised to go; but as
he did not appear at the time appointed, we waited
for him till twelve o'clock, and then determined to
proceed without him. Mr. Osborne now joined our
party, and we resumed our journey.

The valley continued as before, level, and without


a hill or an undulation. A luxuriant growth of
grass, studded with brilliant wild flowers, lined our
path. As we continued north, the adjacent hills
became more thickly wooded, particularly with pines
and firs; the red-wood, a species of cypress, still more
conspicuous, raising its tall stem far above the others.*


Passed the farm of Mr. Yaunt, and soon after that
of Señora Bale, the widow of an English physician,


who settled and died here. This lady has a large
estate, which contains more improvements than any


other farm in the valley. In her orchard I noticed
pear and peach trees, and grape vines in abundance;
while around the house were rose bushes and other
flowering shrubs. The lady was at work in her garden,
in which she seemed to take a deep interest;
while frolicking around her were six beautiful children,
whose light hair and fair complexion indicated
their Anglo-Saxon parentage. Passed other farms,
some of which, particularly Mr. Keller's, bore the
marks of an old settlement, from the extent of its
fences, its barns, saw-mill, and other improvements.
Here was a large orchard of peach trees in full bloom;
which trees, I was told, were brought round Cape
Horn from the Atlantic States. Every thing here
was in a flourishing condition; although in the form
and arrangement of the buildings a sad deficiency of
taste was visible.

A ride of three miles further brought us to Mr.
Kilburn's, a Missourian, with a Californian wife. We
stopped here for the night, and were disappointed in
not finding Mr. K. at home. He is another old resident,
having been some seven years in the valley. As
this gentleman was familiar with the district we were
about to visit, we had relied on his accompanying us;
or, failing to do so, we had hoped to obtain such information
from him as would enable us to find the objects
of which we were in search. Mrs. Kilburn received
us kindly, although we were all strangers to her;
nevertheless she seemed a little flustered when we told
her we had come to pass the night there. She is quite
young, good-looking, and has an interesting family of
little ones around her, who, like the children before


mentioned, exhibit their Anglo-Saxon descent. A fine
supper was soon prepared for us; after partaking of
which, we were directed to our beds in the chamber
above, all clean and comfortable.

The valley for the last few miles had diminished
much in width, being not more than a mile at Mr. Kilburn's
farm. The soil, too, had changed from a black
loam to clay and gravel. Nevertheless, vegetation
seemed quite as luxuriant, and the valley presented a
greater variety of trees. The oak, which, as I have
stated, monopolizes the valley below, here gives way
to the lofty pine, spruce, red-wood, cedar, &c.

I had heard at San Francisco of the large yield of
vegetables on this farm, and made inquiry as to its
truth. I found the statement to be correct; and that
from two acres of onions planted near the house, Mr.
Kilburn had realized last year, in the market of San
Francisco, eight thousand dollars in cash. He also
raised an immense number of cabbages and other vegetables.
In explanation of this, I ought to mention that
onions are considered the most valuable of all vegetables
among the gold miners, on account of their anti-scorbutic
properties. They grow here to an enormous
size, and give an immense yield. My own experience
convinces me of the great value of onions where there
is a predisposition to scurvy, and there is no vegetable
which one craves more than this. Many have I bought
at twelve and a half cents a piece, and eaten with more
relish than I ever did an orange.

In our ride to-day, we crossed the valley to examine
some thermal springs, which are somewhat celebrated
here. They are in a plain near the base of a small hill


of conglomerate rock; but owing to the wet and boggy
condition of the valley, we were unable to approach
within thirty feet of them. Columns of steam were
rising from them on all sides. These springs had been
visited by Professor Shepard the year before, and some
account of them given by him to the public.* The
temperature is said to be constantly changing. Professor
S. heard that there was a place near the foot of
Mount Helena, where the hot waters formerly flowed,
but which had now ceased. This report induced him
to visit the spot. "Externally," he says, "there was
no uncommon appearance to indicate the locality.
Neither a surplus or a scarcity of vegetation, and no
appearance of scoria, tufa or travertine, as might have
been expected." In one place, however, he found it
slightly warm on the surface; and on excavating to
the depth of two feet, it became so hot that he could
not bear his hand in the mud and clay. He inserted
the bulb of his thermometer, and the mercury at once
rose to one hundred and twenty degrees. The temperature
of the springs we visited, varied from 105 to
169 degrees.


Mount Helena—Russian inscription—Digger Indians—Dwellings—Mode
of fishing—Dress—Pass the mountains—Meet bear hunters—Mode of
cooking without utensils—Pluton River—The Geysers—Description of
these phenomena—Effect of the water on wood—Extent of volcanic
action—Return to Camp—Abundance of grizzly bears—Recross the
mountains—Return through Napa Valley—Visit to the Obsidian hills
—Extensive use of this material by the Indians—Return to San Francisco.

March 21st.

Resumed our journey after breakfast;
and at Mr. Fowler's, three or four miles distant, met a
man who manifested much curiosity in our researches,
when he found us inquiring about mines and the volcanic
region. He showed Dr. Webb a specimen of
ore, which, he said, was from that vicinity. The doctor
at once pronounced it zinc, and expressed a doubt
about its being found in the state in which it was
exhibited to him. But the man insisted that his
account of its origin was correct, and furthermore
offered to conduct us to the spot; whereupon we set
off together under his guidance. Crossing the valley
to the opposite side, he led us up a deep ravine, where
he leaped from his horse and pointed out the rock from


which he said the specimen was taken. An examination
showed it to be nothing but serpentine. He led
the doctor to several ledges at some distance, but their
character was the same. He had evidently been imposed
upon, for he acknowledged afterwards that he
did not find the specimen himself. Many tricks of
this kind are practised on the ignorant, and they even
sometimes lead scientific men astray.

While this man was hunting up his imaginary treasures,
I ascended a small hill and took a sketch of the
beautiful scenery around. Directly before me on the
eastern side of the valley loomed up Mount Helena or
Moyacino of the Russians. This is the highest mountain
for a great distance around, none within seventy
or eighty miles having as great an altitude. On its
summit is an inscription in Russian characters on a
plate of copper, giving the latitude and longitude of
the place. We met several persons who had seen the
tablet. The Russians had a settlement called Fort
Rosse on Bodega Bay, opposite this mountain; and
the tablet was doubtless placed there to show the line
of boundary which Russia claimed.

The view here exhibited the finest alpine scenery
I had yet seen in California, and showed that we were
advancing, northward as well as reaching a higher

Reached Mr. Knight's, twelve miles from Kilburn's,
at noon. Here the valley grew quite narrow, or rather
terminated, it being intersected by a range of hills.
At this place, another valley opened some two or three
miles in width, and extended about ten miles farther
to the north.


Mr. Knight is a young man from Vermont, who
came across the continent about seven years before our
visit, with the first emigrants to Oregon. As the
country did not suit him, he pushed his way southward,
until he struck this valley. He owns a large
tract of land here; but in consequence of his distance
from market, he has, very wisely, turned his attention
from cultivating the soil, to that of raising stock. His
isolated position, and the hills of grass and wild oats
which surround him on every side, render it a most
advantageous one for this purpose. Although surrounded
by wild beasts and warlike Indians, and with
no neighbor within twelve miles of him, he had not
forgotten all the enjoyments that belong to civilized
communities, as was evinced by a piano-forte and a
case well filled with books.

An Indian village stood a few hundred yards from
the house; and at my request Mr. Knight went out
and brought me three of the most intelligent among
them, from whom I obtained a full vocabulary of their
language. Like many other tribes of the country, and
of this region in particular, they appeared to have no
name for themselves as a people. By the white people,
these and all other Indians between the Sacramento
and the coast, and thence through the central
parts of the State, are called "Diggers," or "Digger
Indians," from the fact that they live chiefly on roots,
which they collect by digging. I therefore set them
down as Indians of Napa Valley. We had met with
several small bands, and passed a few villages on our
way up; but from none could I learn that they had
any name for their tribe. This fact will account for


the great diversity in the names of the California
Indians as given by travellers. In examining the
various books on this country and articles in scientific
journals, I find tribes mentioned by names which are
not elsewhere to be found; and in my own inquiries
I have found tribes who called themselves by names
which I never heard of before. This has induced me
to believe that the small tribes or bands, which abound
here more than in any other part of North America,
when asked to what tribe they belong, give the name
of their chief, which is misunderstood by the inquirer
to be that of the tribe itself.

Their houses are circular, and from twelve to
thirty feet in diameter, the interior usually excavated
about three feet below the surface of the ground.
Within this circle posts are planted, forked at the top,
upon which rest poles reaching from one to the other.
The spaces between the posts are filled in with sticks
or tules, against which the earth is firmly banked up
outside. The roofs are dome-shaped, and, in the
smaller houses, supported by a single post in the centre,
on the forked top of which rest two main rafters,
with their outer ends planted in the ground. From
these are stretched stout poles, about a foot apart and
thatched with sticks and tules, or rushes closely interwoven,
and covered with a solidly pressed layer of
earth about a foot thick, making a roof completely
water proof in the heaviest rains. In some villages
the houses have but one aperture, which is on the top
of the roof, and serves for both door and chimney.
This is entered by a sort of rude ladder, or by notches
cut in the centre-post. Others have an opening at the



side, so small as not to be entered except by crawling
on the hands and knees. Around the sides of the
interior are wide shelves, formed of poles and rushes
resting on forked posts, which serve for beds.

[Figure] Summer huts of California Indians.

In the view of the interior of one of their dwellings
is seen a number of decoy ducks which they use
to good advantage. Although the California tribes
exhibit much skill in fishing and in trapping game,
and the erection of their dwellings, they show little ingenuity
in the arts of design. The accompanying rude
figure in wood, of a woman and child, which was


found on the coast, is all that I have seen of their carving.

[Figure] Figure cut in wood.

The Indian dwelling near the great rivers of California
make much dependence upon the salmon and
sturgeon which they can take. For this purpose they
use both nets and spears. When the river is wide,
the nets are stretched by means of booms projecting
from the banks, sometimes a hundred feet into the
stream. These booms are made of the trunks of trees,
fastened together at the ends, and kept at a right angle
with the shore by stays of grape, vine stretching from
the boom to trees or stakes. Beneath the outer end
of the boom is a float or raft of tulé, upon which is
stuck a branch gaily trimmed with feathers and other
ornaments, as a charm to secure success. Other charms,
usually made of bunches of feathers raised upon poles,
are displayed along the bank, where are also one or
two huts for the party in attendance. One of the
party holds constantly in his hand a line attached to
the net, by means of which he can feel when a large


fish is entangled, whereupon the net is hauled in and
the prize secured.

[Figure] California Indians catching salmon.

When a sturgeon is caught, the spinal marrow,
which is considered a delicacy, is drawn out whole,
through a cut made in the back, and devoured raw,
with a rapidity quite startling to one not aware of the
strength of an Indian's stomach.

The spear is a very ingenious and effective contrivance.
When thrown into a fish, the head, which
is of bone with a line attached towards the point,
detaches itself from the pole, which serves as a drag
to weary out the fish. As soon as the pole can be
seized, nothing remains but to haul the prey in.

The men either go naked or wear a simple breechcloth.
The women wear a cloth or strips of leather
around their loins. A basket pointed at the lower


end, is in universal use among them, for gathering the
roots and seeds which form their chief subsistence.
This is carried on their backs, supported by a band
across the forehead. Their arms of defence are bows
and arrows. Some tribes, however, make use of the
spear or lance. In one respect the California Indians
differ from all others. I allude to their beards, which
are generally permitted to grow. It is true they are
not as thick and bushy as in the white race, but short,
thin, and stiff. I have never seen them extend beyond
the upper lip and the chin. The hair of all the California
Indians I have seen is cut short.

After partaking of an excellent dinner, we took
leave of our host. For several miles our journey extended
over a plain hemmed in on all sides, on which
large herds of cattle were grazing; then came ranges
of low hills, all covered with wild oats or clover. The
cattle truly luxuriated here. A ride of twelve miles,
alternately over low hills and valleys, and winding
through clusters of trees and shrubbery, brought us to
the establishment of MacDonald, the last settler in this
part of the country, towards Oregon. We received a
cordial welcome from Mr. MacDonald and his wife,—
a young woman of twenty, who must have some courage
to settle down in this lonely spot. On making
known my intention to visit the volcanic region, Mr.
MacDonald consented to be our guide, although busily
engaged in putting in his crops.

Having an hour or two to spare before dark, I
took a sketch of the valley and adjoining mountains,
all of which presented a most picturesque appearance.
The valley is here very limited, being confined to


patches of from twenty to fifty acres, but all connected
by a small and never-failing stream of excellent water.
The object of our friend in settling here was to secure
to himself a large tract of land without encroachment.
Thus he has a section of good tillable land of one hundred
and sixty to two hundred acres, and on the low
hills around it about four thousand acres excellent for
grazing purposes. Having secured all the valley, no
one would take up land on the hills. His section
would, therefore, give him the use of the large tract
adjacent, which was all he required.

March 22d.

Took an early breakfast, and started
at seven o'clock. MacDonald led the way, and we
followed him in Indian file. We had now no more
beautiful valleys or grassy plains to traverse. Nothing
but a succession of lofty and rugged mountains lay
before us, through the intricacies of which we had to
wind our way. There was no road, nor even a trail,
save those made by wild animals, of which there was
an abundance in these parts. Our guide often directed
our attention to the huge tracks of the grizzly and
brown bear, and again to those of the elk, which constantly
crossed and recrossed our path. He had been
several times to the place we were going, and knew
the country well; yet so wild and rugged was it, so
dense the forest, and with such a succession of ascents
and descents, that he sometimes seemed at a loss which
way to go. The general direction was well known;
but among such a number of deep gorges and ravines,
mountains, hills, and valleys, it was no easy task to
select the right one; and a mistake in the mazes of such
a place would leads us into inextricable difficulties.


At noon, having been five hours in the saddle, we
stopped to rest ourselves, as well as our animals, on
one of the elevated spurs, from which we had a grand
view of a vast stretch of country towards the coast.
Some ten or fifteen miles distant lay Russian River,
winding its way along a beautiful valley, bounded by a
succession of hills; and beyond this rose the coast range
of mountains. While the animals were grazing, I took
a sketch of this enchanting spot.

Pursuing our journey still over hills and through
ravines; forcing our way among the thorny chapporal
and thickets;—now winding along the side of a steep
hill, where a single misstep would throw horse and
rider some hundred feet below, and now leading our
frightened animals up some precipitous ascent where
it was unsafe to ride them, we at length reached the
summit of the mountain beyond. From this elevated
point the view was grand beyond description. On the
east, far in the distance, the horizon was bounded by
the snow-capped summits of the Sierra Nevada, forming
a well marked line with the deep blue of the horizon.
Nearer, and on every side, lay mountains
of every variety of form; some rugged and bare,
others covered with a deep Alpine foliage, while
others again of less height, from their yellow hue,
seemed clothed with the rich verdure of wild oats.
Four or five miles distant, in an opening surrounded
by rugged mountains, lay Clear Lake.

After following the summit we were now on, for
a couple of miles, we began to descend again into the
deep gorge, through which runs Pluton River, on whose
banks are the volcanic phenomena and geysers of


which we were in search. The descent was here so
steep that we were obliged to dismount from our animals
and lead them down. Our progress was now
necessarily rapid, and we soon reached the base of the
mountain. Here we suddenly came upon four men,
who had come out a few days before us from MacDonald's
to amuse themselves in hunting the grizzly bear.
We reached this place at four o'clock, a distance of
but sixteen miles, after a most fatiguing journey;
although the beauty and variety of the scenery well
repaid us for the effort. As there was still a descent
of five hundred feet to the stream, and a mile to the
geysers, we determined to leave their examination till
morning, and devote the remainder of the day to rest
and the preparation of our dinner.

As the hunters had nothing but bear's meat in
store, three of them took their rifles and went out to
procure a deer for dinner. In less than an hour all
returned, each bringing with him the hind quarters of
a fine deer, having been equally successful in their
short hunt. While they were absent, our servant had
made a fire, and got a kettle of boiling water ready
for making coffee. In ten minutes after their return,
the venison and bear's meat were roasting before the
fire, and emitting the most appetizing odors.

The method of preparing a fine game dinner without
a single cooking utensil deserves to be mentioned.
First, a number of sticks are cut about two feet in
length, the size of one's finger, divested of their bark,
and sharpened at one end. These correspond to the
spits in civilized roast-ovens. The meat is now cut up
into pieces about three quarters of an inch in thickness


and half the size of one's hand, with a hole in the centre.
Through these the sharpened stick is thrust, and
its lower end planted in the ground before the fire.
As our fare consisted of venison and bear's meat, successive
layers of each were put upon the sticks, the fat
of the latter, as it dripped down, basting and furnishing
an excellent gravy to the former. In fifteen
minutes, with occasional turning, the dinner was pronounced
ready to be served up.

Being unprovided with the luxury of a table, we
seated ourselves on the grass, beneath the wide-spreading
boughs of a tree, and a few yards from the fire, in
order to be near the kitchen, and to have our meats
and coffee warm. Before each person was stuck in the
ground a stick of the roasted meat. A bag of hard
bread (pilot bread), some sugar, salt, and pepper,
were placed near, and each man was provided with a
tin cup filled with coffee. Thus furnished, and with
sharp appetites, we fell to, and never was a feast more
heartily appreciated. Our coffee and bread were
excellent; and those who were not satisfied with one
stick of meat, found another ready at the fire when
the first was gone.

By the time we had finished our dinner, it was
dark. We then sat for an hour or two listening to the
feats and adventures related to us by the hunters before
referred to, all of which were exciting and full of
interest; after which, one by one, we rolled ourselves
in our blankets, and dropped asleep, dreaming of grizzly
bears, elk, venison, and the wild scenery we had been
enjoying during the day.

March 23d.

Was up by sunrise, after an excellent


night's rest; and took a bath in the waters of a little
stream that tumbled down within twenty feet of our
camp-fire, by which time our breakfast was ready.
This was a counterpart of yesterday's dinner, viz.,
bear's meat, venison, hard-bread, and coffee. Having
dispatched it, we set off for the geysers: Dr. Webb,
with his hammer and leather bags for minerals, and
with boxes and bottles for small zoological specimens;
Mr. Thurber, with his portfolio for plants; and I, with
my sketch-book. We were all provided with pistols or
rifles besides. It would have been easier and attended
with less risk, to make the descent on foot; but we
were obliged to go on horseback, on account of having
to ford the stream. The river or creek was from thirty
to forty feet wide where we crossed it, about half up
the horse's middle, and very rapid. On either side,
the banks were rocky and steep, rendering it somewhat
difficult, though with steady animals not a dangerous
passage. About a quarter of a mile from the
opposite bank we dismounted, unsaddled our animals,
and staked them out to feast themselves on the rich
clover which there abounded, and then completed our
journey on foot. A few hundred yards brought us to
the first of the geysers, or "volcanoes," as they were
called by our guide. I should not forget to remark, that
we saw in several ravines, as we passed along, traces of
former volcanic action. The rocks were bare, and in a
decomposed state, showing the effects of heat or fire,
although no heat was then perceptible.

At the first place we stopped, there was a show of
about half an acre of decomposed granite, and other
rocks, from cavities in which issued fumes of sulphur


and small quantities of steam. At these places were
beds of crystallized sulphur; and in others, sulphur
was exposed on turning up with a stick the exterior
crust. There was every appearance around us that the
rocks had been subjected to an intense heat, which was
now gradually abating. After collecting specimens of
the sulphur and adjacent rocks, we continued further

Another quarter of a mile, over steep hills and across
deep ravines, brought us to the principal "geysers."
Here was truly a grand prospect, and difficult to describe
by one unacquainted with such scenes; for to
speak with scientific precision of such a remarkable spot
as this, the writer should be familiar with volcanic regions
and know something of similar phenomena. The action
here was confined within a narrow ravine, in the mountain
side, running nearly at right angles with Pluton
River, which we had crossed. The banks were from
one hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and fifty
feet in height, breaking in from the mountain, which
rose up from ten to fifteen hundred feet above, and
were wholly composed of decomposed rocks. In the
chasm beneath us, columns of steam were spouting out
on every side; while deep at the bottom, ran a small
rivulet. Vegetation of luxuriant growth crowded close
upon the crumbling rocks, consisting of various kinds
of shrubbery, pines, oaks, firs, &c.

We clambered down to the spot where the scoria
or burnt rock first appeared, and seated ourselves
under the shade of a pine tree. From this point I
took a sketch looking down the gorge. On each side
of where we sat, some twenty or thirty feet below, a



small stream came tumbling down, concealed from view
by dense foliage, and united at the base of a jutting
mass of rocks, as seen in the sketch. I thrust a staff,
which I carried with me, some three or four feet into
the crumbled granite beneath; which led us to think
it not quite safe to remain where we were. From this
place, we got down with some difficulty to the bottom
of the gorge, where the main stream ran. The water
was here cold and pure, exhibiting no unpleasant taste.
A few yards further brought us into the midst of the
puffing geysers, or steam-jets; for I knew not by what
other name to call them. Fumes of sulphur here met
our nostrils at every step, while the rustling steam, as
it spouted from a hundred cavities, completely enveloped
us. The latter did not issue in one continuous
column, but at short intervals, as from the pipe of a
high pressure engine. It was with some difficulty that
we could breathe here among the fumes of sulphur and
the steam; and we crouched low in the bed of the
rocky stream to avoid them. In cavities along both
banks, and near the running brook, was boiling water,
which rose and fell, accompanied by a loud gurgling
noise, resembling that of a gigantic steam condenser.
In one of these cavities, stones as large as an egg
were in a state of commotion, presenting a curious
resemblance to a pot of boiling potatoes. I held my
hand fifteen inches above this boiling pot, at which
distance the water scalded it. From this cavity to the
running stream, was just the width of my hand; though
the surface of the boiling water in the cavity, was about
a foot above the running water. The whole of this
violent commotion was accompanied by a tremendous


noise beneath the earth's surface, quite equal to and
resembling that made by several ocean steamers, letting
off their steam through their large pipes, loud, deep,
and harsh. There was no cessation to this awful roar,
but one continued noise, as though a vast workshop
beneath was in full operation.

The banks of the gorge were now too steep to
attempt to ascend, nor would it have been safe to do so
among so many jets of steam, boiling caldrons, and fumes
of sulphur; so we made our way down the gorge in the
very bed of the stream, jumping from rock to rock, first
on one side and then on the other, and occasionally, where
the stream took a leap, letting ourselves down in the best
way we could. Thus we worked our way along for
about an hour, filled with admiration and wonder at
the mysterious workings of nature around us. The
water, as we advanced, grew warmer, in consequence
of accessions from the boiling cavities along its margin,
until the stream became quite hot. We had here
an opportunity to select a bath of any temperature,
from one of icy coldness to that of one hundred and
fifty degrees; and we did not fail to improve it in some
of the deeper basins of the stream, which seemed prepared
by nature for such a purpose.

Having thus refreshed ourselves, we clambered up
the opposite bank; and as we had now passed through
that portion of the gorge which had been affected by
the heat, we lay down awhile under the shade of a tree
on the bank of Pluton River. Looking up here, we
saw before us, at the distance of a few hundred yards,
another of these volcanic wonders. This was directly
on the north-east bank of the stream, and was marked

[Figure] GEYSERS, PLUTON RIVER, CALIFORNIA.—p. 42. vol. ii.


by a patch of decomposed rock of a whitish cast, covering
about an acre. Here also jets of steam issued
forth, but not in so many places, nor with as much force
as within the gorge just described. Dr. Webb and Mr.
Thurber examined it, and afterwards visited several
others, further up the river; but none of them were
found to equal the first in grandeur. I remained behind
with Mr. Osborne, to take a sketch from the bank
where we stood, showing these last named geysers,
and the deep mountain gorge through which Pluton
River runs. The scenery here was truly grand. Immense
pines grew on the mountain sides and tops,
while oaks and smaller trees filled the narrow valleys
and ravines, which the rains had made. Just below us
ran the river, dashing over rocks in its steep descent,
and often concealed by the thick foliage which overhung

Mr. Osborne and myself then returned and crossed
the foot of the gorge where the great geysers are, with
the intention of getting a view of the chasm looking
up towards the point from which I had taken my first
sketch. To reach this point was easier said than done,
and proved the most difficult and only dangerous
adventure of the day. However, by lying flat on our
breasts and working a resting-place or notch with our
feet in the crumbling rocks, and occasionally laying
hold of a projecting root, we succeeded in reaching
the desired point. Here, on a projecting cliff, grew a
few shrubs of the manacita, beneath which I crept on
my hands and knees; and having reached the point,
sat down and took a sketch, while my companion refreshed
himself beneath the shade.


From this point is a fine view of the chasm or
gorge, with the little stream at the bottom, and the
jets of steam spouting from its sides. The projecting
rock, near which I took the first sketch, is seen at the
head of the gorge, and in the centre of the picture.
Close upon the decomposed rock appears the luxuriant
vegetation; while the mountain, towering far above all,
forms the background.

The decomposed rocks, of which I have so often
spoken, are in general of a whitish cast, curiously
interspersed with spots of every hue. I noticed many
patches of deep red, and some of light yellow and
green; while here and there were others of black,
brown, and slate color.

Having completed my sketches, we hastened back
to the place where we had left our animals. Here we
threw ourselves on the grass in a deep grove near the
bank of the mountain torrent, to await the return of
Dr. Webb, Mr. Thurber, and MacDonald. At the
same time I sent my servant ahead to our place of
encampment to build a fire, put on a kettle of water,
and make other preparations for dinner. Within half
an hour our friends made their appearance, when we
mounted our nags, recrossed the river, and, after a
little hard tugging up the mountain, reached our
camp fire in safety, delighted with the adventures of
the day.

I am not aware that this interesting spot has been
visited by any man of science, except Professor Shepherd,
of Western Reserve College, Ohio; and as
his experience and profession better fitted him for
investigations in such phenomena than mine, I quote a


portion of his remarks, which will convey a fuller and
clearer idea than my feeble description. My time
while there was short, and mostly spent in making
sketches, and in collecting a few specimens of sulphur
and of the contiguous rocks; nor had I the means
of testing or examining the waters.

"You may here find sulphur water," says Professor
Shepherd,* "precisely similar to the celebrated White
of Green Brier County, Virginia, except its icy
coldness. Also red, blue, and even black sulphur
water, both cold and hot. Also pure limpid hot water,
without any sulphur or chlorine salts; calcareous hot
waters, magnesian, chalybeate, etc., in almost endless
variety. Every natural facility is afforded for either
vapor, shower, or plunging baths. Where the heated
sulphuretted hydrogen gas is evolved, water appears
to be suddenly formed, beautiful crystals of sulphur
deposited (not sublimated as by fire), and more or less
sulphuric acid generated. In some places the acid
was found so strong as to turn black kid gloves almost
immediately to a deep red. * * * From numerous
experiments made here and in the mountains of
Virginia, I am confident that all sulphur springs possess
a high temperature, after descending below the cold
surface water. Notwithstanding the rocks are so hot
as to burn your feet through the soles of your boots,
there is no appearance of a volcano in this extraordinary
spot. There is no appearance of lava. You find
yourself standing not in a solfatara, nor one of the
salses described by the illustrious Humboldt. The rocks


around you are rapidly dissolving under the powerful
metamorphic action going on. Porphyry and jasper
are transformed into a kind of potter's clay. Pseudotrappean
rocks are consumed much like wood in a slow
fire, and go to form sulphate of magnesia and other
products. Granite is rendered so soft that you may
crush it between your fingers, and cut it as easily as
unbaked bread. The feldspar appears to be converted
partly into alum. In the mean time the boulders and
angular fragments brought down the ravines and river
by floods are being cemented into a firm conglomerate;
so that it is difficult to dislodge even a small pebble,
the pebble itself breaking before the conglomerate

"The thermal action on wood in this place is also
highly interesting. In one mound I discovered the
stump of a large tree silicified; in another, a log
changed to lignite or brown coal. Other fragments
appeared midway between petrifaction and carbonization.
In this connection, finding some drops of a very
dense fluid, and also highly refractive, I was led to
believe that pure carbon might, under such circumstances,
crystallize and form the diamond. Unfortunately
for me, however, I lost the precious drop in
attempting to secure it.

"A green tree cut down and obliquely inserted in
one of the conical mounds, was so changed in thirty-six
hours that its species would not have been recognised
except from the portion projecting outside,
around which beautiful crystals of sulphur had already

According to the statement of MacDonald, our


guide, who had made several visits to the geysers,
their activity has greatly diminished, or we saw them
under less favorable auspices than usual. He said that
when last here the water spouted up from five to ten
feet in height; that the jets of steam were much larger
and more steady; and furthermore, that a day often exhibited
a material difference. That the action has lessened,
and nearly ceased, is certain as respects the first
one we visited; for it now appears like an expiring fire.

When Professor Shepherd visited this place, a year
before us, he says that within the space of half a mile
square he "discovered from one to two hundred openings,
through which the steam issued with violence,
sending up columns of steam to the height of one hundred
and fifty to two hundred feet," * * * and again,
"throwing out jets or volumes of hot scalding water
some twenty or thirty feet, endangering the lives of
those who stood near. In some places the steam and
water came in contact, so as to produce a constant jet
, or spouting fountain, with a dense cloud above
the spray, affording vivid prismatic hues in the sunshine."
With such jets of water and steam as these,
the grandeur of this extraordinary spot would be
greatly enhanced.

Our dinner was soon ready, and we seated ourselves
on the grass again, with appetites sharpened by
a long fast and a laborious tramp of nearly ten hours.
Sticks of the same delicious bear's meat, and venison
were placed before us, with a second course, on
smaller sticks, of some fine grouse which MacDonald
had shot. This was a bird I had not before seen. It
was larger than the ordinary prairie fowl, and proved


delicious eating. A bath followed our repast, after
which we rolled ourselves up in our blankets and lay
down for the night. The novelties of the day occupied
our attention for an hour, when we quietly dropped off,
and slept as soundly under the protection of the
spreading oak as beneath a tent or in the most luxurious
chamber. These were the first nights I spent in the
open air, on the bare ground, since I was taken sick near
Ures; and I felt a little uneasiness at being so exposed.
But I neither took cold nor suffered any other inconvenience
from it, although in the month of March.
One soon becomes habituated to this mode of life, and
is less liable to colds and illness than when sleeping
under a roof with the addition of comfortable fires.

I learned from the hunters who were with us the
first night that this region abounds in game, particularly
bears, elk, and deer. They had been here but
three days before our arrival, and in that time they
had seen no less than thirty-two bears, most of them
of the grizzly species; the others of the brown and
black varieties. Of these they had killed and obtained
two; three they had wounded and lost. Of deer they
had also killed many. The bear's sense of smelling is
so good, that they soon found out our proximity, and
gave us a wide berth. Deer were seen all around us.

March 24th.

Our excellent guide and hunter,
MacDonald, called us to breakfast at daylight; soon
after taking which we mounted our animals and began
the ascent of the mountain, whose summit we speedily
attained. On looking at the valley beyond, we found
it completely buried in a fog, the tops of the mountains
alone being visible. These appeared like islands


and long necks of land in the midst of a vast body of
water. While we were on the crest of the high range,
a dense fog so completely enveloped us that we could
see nothing but the point on which we stood. We
made our way back much more rapidly than we came,
it being earlier in the day and much cooler; so that
by twelve o'clock we were at MacDonald's place,
where we dined and allowed our animals to feed and

At half-past two we bade farewell to our kind and
hospitable hosts, Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald, and resumed
our journey. Stopped for fifteen minutes at Mr.
Knight's, when we again pushed on, and reached Mr.
Kilburn's at sunset. This gentleman was now at
home, and gave us a warm reception. We learned
many particulars from him corroborating the statements
we had heard of the extraordinary fertility of the soil
in Napa Valley, as well as the great yield of vegetables
on his own land, of which I have before spoken.

March 25th.

Took an early start, first making
inquiries of Mr. Kilburn about the locality of some
hills of "black flint" which we had heard of. We had
occasionally picked up along the road small pieces of
obsidian, and were extremely desirous to find whence
they came. After many inquiries we were directed
to the farm of Mr. Kelly, who has a small mill on Napa
Creek, a short distance from the road. We found Mr.
Kelly at home; and on making known our wishes to
examine the place referred to, he took a spade and
accompanied us to the spot, about half a mile distant,
on the eastern side of the valley. We found it to be
a spur of the mountain ridge, about eighty feet in


height, projecting quite out into the plain. The whole
seemed full of obsidian, covered with a layer of earth,
on which is a thick growth of trees and shrubbery,
save on the summit, where there is less soil. Here in
many places the surface was covered, from six to
twelve inches in depth, with broken pieces and small
boulders of this volcanic substance, resembling a
newly made macadamized road.

Taking the spade, I scraped away the fragments
and loose pieces to reach the mass below. This we
found existing in a conglomerate state. The mass in
which the obsidian is imbedded is quite soft and friable
towards the surface; so that it was difficult to detach
it with the obsidian adhering to it, except in very
small pieces. The largest of the specimens obtained
was about the size and shape of an ostrich's egg, from
which they diminished to that of a pea. Many presented
sharp angles, where they had come in contact
and been broken. The substance in which the obsidian
is imbedded resembles a coarse mortar of lime,
sand, and gravel. I took a sketch of Napa Valley
from these hills, showing Mount Diabolo in the distance,
which is plainly seen from San Francisco and

Obsidian is used by the Indians for their arrowheads
in all parts of North America west of the
Rocky Mountains. It is found too among many tribes
to the east of this range. The ancient Mexicans made
of it the knives which they used in their sacrifices.
We found small fragments of it along the Gila, wherever
there had been any Indian villages; and also
among the ruins of the Casas Grandes, in Chihuahua,



as well as those of the Gila and Salinas Rivers. The
Apaches had arrows pointed with the same material.
Yet I know of no other locality where obsidian is
found in place in any of the regions visited by the
Boundary Commission except this. All the specimens
we saw were black, occasionally with a smoky or
brownish tint.*

We now continued our journey, and reached Mr.
Osborne's at two o'clock. After dinner we rambled
over the adjacent hills to obtain a better view of this
delightful valley, which lost none of its beauties from
whatever point it was observed.

On the opposite side of the mountains which
bound Napa Valley on the west, is Sonoma Valley.
This is similarly situated, running north and south
between ranges of low mountains. It likewise possesses
great fertility, but has not the picturesque
beauty of Napa. The same may be said of the valleys
of Petaluma, Novato, and San Rafael.

March 26th.

Took an early breakfast and bade
adieu to our kind and gentlemanly host, who intended
to follow us in a few hours. We did not wait for him,
as he wished to stop on the way, and I was desirous to
pay my respects to General Hitchcock and the other
officers at Benicia before returning to San Francisco.


As it was quite cool, we were enabled to ride fast and
reach Benicia by two o'clock. Took dinner, and
afterwards walked out to the military post, when I made
my calls upon the officers there. Mr. Osborne joined
us at five o'clock, and at seven we took the steamboat
for San Francisco, where we arrived at nine.


Leave San Francisco—San José Valley—Fertility of the soil—Mission of
Santa Clara—San José—New Almaden—Quicksilver mine—Mode of
extracting the ore—Large tanks of quicksilver—Account of the quicksilver
mines of Spain—Production of this metal in all parts of the
world—Situation of the New Almaden mine—Descent into it—How
worked—Laborers—Extent of the mine—Effect of the mercury on
laborers—History of the mine—Return to San Francisco—Captain Sutter
—His history.

I REMAINED in San Francisco until the 2d of April, to
close up my business there before returning to San
Diego. To make the most of my time while in California,
I determined to undertake the journey to Monterey
by land, first sending forward our outfit and

No event of interest happened while here except a
trip which, in company with a small party, we attempted
to make in the steamer Active, Capt. Alden,
attached to the U. S. Coast Survey, to the Faralones.
These are some small rocky islands, which lie twenty-five
or thirty miles off the entrance to the Bay of San
Francisco. The party, however, were so late in
assembling, that after getting outside the entrance or
Golden Gate, it was found we could not reach the


islands before nightfall; in consequence of which the
voyage was abandoned.

April 2d.

Left San Francisco at 8 o'clock in the
stage for San José, forty miles distant. We were
accompanied by Doctor A. Randall, a gentleman of
science long resident in the country, and familiar with
its localities of interest. Our course was south through
the San José valley, which in many respects resembles
the beautiful valley of Nap a. It is entirely flat, with
scarcely an undulation. Like the former, it is filled
in many places with large wide-spreading oaks. There
are also spaces for miles destitute of trees or shrubs,
resembling the broad grassy plains of lower Texas;
while again appear beautiful groves and clusters of
oaks, cypresses, and sycamores, as picturesquely disposed
as if planted by the hand of a skilful landscape
gardener. The soil is rich, and was covered with a
luxuriant growth of wild clover and grass. This valley
extends for more than a hundred miles towards
Monterey, being separated from the coast by a range
of low mountains. Its width for a long distance after
leaving San Francisco is not less than fifteen miles,
though it diminishes as we approach San José. Yet
this entire valley has all been taken up, and covered
with claims upon claims; so that for many years to
come the lawyers will doubtless derive the largest
income from it. As yet there are few settlers upon it,
and but little land under cultivation. When we take
into consideration the extraordinary fertility of the
soil in California, it will be seen that such an immense
tract as this San José valley is capable of producing a
vast deal towards supplying the State with food. Its



value is justly appreciated by the people; as is shown
by the readiness with which the stock for a railroad to
connect San José with San Francisco was taken up.

The road is excellent for the entire distance, and
the stage rolled rapidly over it. Three miles from San
Jose we passed the mission of Santa Clara, a collection
of old buildings with a church. Here the land seemed
to have been long under cultivation, judging from the
long rows of venerable and gigantic overgrown oaks
which border the road. There were also some fine
large orchards and vineyards here, which belong to the
mission. But the stage did not stop; and we had no
time to examine it. At half-past four, we reached
San José.*


Santa Clara was but recently occupied by a priest;
it has now shared the fate of all the other missions of
the State, which have either been abandoned or have
fallen into the hands of speculators.

April 3d.

After breakfast, walked about the town,
but found nothing of interest. The pueblo of San José,
is an old place; its admirable situation, at the head of
the rich and beautiful valley I have described, attracted
the attention of the Americans soon after the subjugation
of the country, and it was selected as the capitol
of the State. This gave to it an impetus, and brought
it at once into notice. Many hotels and other buildings
soon sprang up, a large city was laid out, and, as
is usual in such cases, much money was made and lost.
But its growth was as suddenly checked by the subsequent
selection of another place for the future capitol.
It is situated about five miles from the southern extremity
of the Bay of San Francisco; and being in the centre
of one of the most fertile districts in the State, it will
yet become its first agricultural town.

On inquiring for Indians here, I learnt that there
was a woman of the San Luis Obispo tribe, living in
the place. I lost no time in calling upon her, and found
she was married to an American. She proved, as I had
heard, to be quite an intelligent person, about 35 years
of age, living in a comfortable house with her family
around her. On my requesting to know the principal


words of her language, she readily complied; and in a
few hours, I obtained a most satisfactory vocabulary.

In the afternoon, we took the stage for New Almaden,
thirteen miles distant. Our route lay through a
valley of unequalled beauty, the entire distance being
dotted with large oaks and sycamores, with an occasional
clump of firs and red-woods, the latter towering high
above all others. There are some clusters of these redwoods
of enormous size between here and Monterey,
of which we heard much, and regretted that we had no
time to visit them. On reaching the town, I drove at
once to the house of Mr. Young, the superintendent
of the quicksilver mines, to whom I had a letter of
introduction from Captain Hallock, U. S. A. of San Francisco,
one of the officers of the Company.

April 4th.

New Almaden consists exclusively of
the buildings belonging to the company which owns
the quicksilver mine. It embraces furnaces, storehouses,
dwelling-houses for the officers and laborers,
offices, mechanics' shops, &c. Many of them are of
wood; but a large and fine range of substantial brick
buildings is now in the process of erection, to take the
place of the wooden ones. The novelty of the business
of extracting the quicksilver from the cinnabar, required
a number of experiments, involving a very heavy expenditure;
for there was but one other mine in the
world, that of Almaden in Spain, where the operation
was carried on on a large scale, and it could not be
expected that a rival company like this, whose operations
would effectually destroy the monopoly the latter
had for ages enjoyed, would be permitted to derive
any information from their long experience. Machinery


of various kinds was therefore imported from England
and the United States at enormous cost, much of
which has since been rejected, either on account of the
great expense of running it, or its inadequacy to perform
the service required. Six furnaces are now in
operation reducing the ore, all of which seem to be
alike, and of the most simple construction. On these
furnaces the ore is heaped. A steady, though not very
strong fire, is then applied. As the ore becomes heated,
the quicksilver is sublimed; and then being condensed,
it falls by its own weight, and is conducted by
pipes which lead along the bottom of the furnace to
small pots or reservoirs imbedded in the earth, each
containing from one to two gallons of the ore. The
furnaces are kept going night and day, while large
drops or minute streams of the pure metal are constantly
trickling down into the receptacles. From these it is
carried to the store-house, and deposited in large cast-iron
tanks or vats. These are of various shapes and
sizes, and are fixed in solid beds of stone and mortar.
The largest, a square vat between four and five feet
across, contained twenty tons of pure quicksilver. By
way of illustrating the great specific gravity of this
metal, a board was placed on it, upon which I sat, thus
floating upon a bed of quicksilver; yet my weight did
not sink the board to the depth of a quarter of an inch.
On thrusting my bare arm into this vat, a most singular
and chilling sensation was produced. I then took
a stick of light and porous wood, which I immersed for
about a minute; and when I withdrew it, the metal had
penetrated through every portion of it, so that in
weight it was little less than the quicksilver itself.



In the warehouse the metal is prepared for market.
This is done by putting it into wrought iron flasks or
canisters holding 75 pounds each. It is dipped up
with ladles, and poured into the flasks through an ordinary
tin funnel. The opening or neck of the flask
(which in form is something like a junk bottle) is
then stopped with a close-fitting screw, put in with a
vice, so as to make it tight as possible. These flasks,
which weigh twenty-five pounds each, are all made in
England, where I suppose they can be furnished much
cheaper than in the United States. From the warehouse
the flasks are transported by ox-carts to tidewater,
about twenty miles distant, whence they are
shipped to San Francisco. The present (1852) price of
the metal there is sixty cents a pound, a very great
reduction from that which the quicksilver from Spain
has commanded, though of equal quality. A shipment
of a thousand flasks was lately made to Canton, by way
of an experiment. In China it is chiefly used in the
manufacture of vermilion and other articles of commerce.*


I did not learn what quantity was produced at the
time of my visit here, but have since seen it stated to
be about one thousand flasks per month, or nearly a
million pounds a year. According to Dumas, the annual


product of the Spanish mine at Almaden is about
three millions of pounds.

April 4th.

After breakfast we set out on foot for
the mine, which is situated near the top of a mountain
immediately adjoining the works. The ascent begins
directly in the rear of the store-houses, by a well constructed


road of gradual and easy ascent, which the
Company has been engaged in making for the last six
months. It is a mile in length, and is now only used
by mules; but it is intended to use carts and wagons
on it. It winds the whole way along the side of the
mountain, rising twenty-five feet in every hundred
until you reach the mouth of the mine, at an elevation
of a little less than one thousand feet above the commencement
of the ascent.

About one hundred and fifty feet, in a direct line
below the opening, they were digging a tunnel for the
purpose of intersecting the main shaft. This tunnel,
which is cut entirely through the solid rock, had
already pierced the mountain seven or eight hundred
feet, and will, when completed, be not much short of
one thousand feet. It is about eight feet high, and
between eight and ten feet wide. This will prove a
vast saving in labor; for the ore up to the time of our
visit was transported on the backs of men in leather
sacks from the bottom of the shafts to the entrance to
the mine, a distance of from two hundred and fifty to
three hundred feet. It is not the cinnabar alone that
has to be thus carried from the bottom of the mine,
but the refuse rock, which forms a greater bulk than
the ore itself. It cannot be separated in the mine,
but has all to be brought to the surface.

We waited for Mr. Bester, the engineer, to join us
before entering the mine; and as he had not returned
from San José, where we left him, we determined to
forego the examination of its interior to-day, and content
ourselves with what we could see on the surface.



The mountain rises one hundred and sixty feet
above the entrance to the mine, terminating in a cone.
On a level with the entrance, a quarter of a mile distant,
is the village, perched on the very summit of a
rock, in which the miners live with their families.
This mountain, as well as the others adjoining it, is
covered with grass, and dotted with small oaks to its
summit. There is nothing to distinguish the mountain
in which the mine is worked from the others; hence
it is reasonable to suppose that they may also contain
veins of cinnabar. The intervening valleys are well
wooded, and have a thick undergrowth.

April 5th.

Set out this morning for the mine, accompanied
by Mr. Bester, on mules, as the journey up
was fatiguing, and we wished to preserve our strength
for the exploration of the various shafts. On reaching
the entrance, we found all actively employed;—
the laborers emerging every minute from the mines,
bent under the weight of their loads, which they
deposited under a shed about eighty feet from the
opening. Here the ore was separated, the refuse being
thrown down the hill, and the rest laid aside to be
sent to the furnaces. At the same time the mulada, or
collection of some eighty or a hundred mules, was
being loaded with the ore. This was put into sacks
or panniers of raw hide, which hung across their
backs like saddle-bags, each mule carrying on an
average a carga, or three hundred pounds. Men stood
by with a balance, in which every mule load was
weighed, so that the exact quantity of ore sent to the
furnaces is known. The weighing is also necessary;
as the company pays so much a carga for bringing it


from the bottom to the surface, and for transporting it
from the mine to the furnaces. This plan is preferred
by the proprietors to that of employing the laborers
directly themselves. The work is wholly performed
by native Mexicans or Californians, the overseers and
contractors who employ them being their countrymen,
though of a better class. These men understand the
management of their countrymen better than Americans
do; and the Mexican laborers are better arrieros,
and understand all that appertains to the mule better
than Americans.

The laborers wore no clothing, save a breechcloth,
and a handkerchief around their heads. The
arrieros had on but little more; a fancy colored
calico shirt being the extent of their additional costume.
The laborers who bring up the ore to the surface
make from forty to fifty trips a day. The mules
make but two journeys from the mine to the furnaces,
completing their day's labor by one o'clock. They are
then turned out to feed in the valley or on the mountain
side, where the grass is good. With so little
labor, they are always in fine condition. About two
hundred men are employed in the various operations
carried on here.

After being provided with torches, consisting of a
candle fastened to the end of a stick, we commenced
the descent of the mine, Mr. Bester, the engineer,
taking the lead. We first advanced some sixty
feet in a horizontal direction, after which the shaft
takes a turn downwards, and soon after becomes perpendicular.
In such places the descent is made on a single
notched log, which is preferred by the miners to the


common ladder; and although very awkward at first,
we soon got used to it. With one hand you take hold
of the ladder, and with the other the torch. These ladders,
although almost perpendicular, are seldom more
than twelve or fifteen feet long, being separated by
intervals, where the descent is more gradual, with
steps cut in the rock. In this way we passed down
through various shafts or veins to the bottom of the
mine, two hundred feet below the entrance. Passages
following the veins of ore extend in every direction,
sometimes horizontal, then perpendicular, and
again at every inclination. Their whole extent now
exceeds seven thousand feet. When a vein is struck,
it is followed as far as it can be with safety, whatever
may be its course. The engineer, who keeps
before him a map of the mine, is obliged to have an
eye to the support of the superincumbent mass. Some
of the veins are five feet in diameter, others half that
size. Some are also richer than others.

In each of the veins is a single miner; for not more
than one can work to advantage in these narrow recesses.
Picks, drills, and crowbars are the tools used.
The miners are paid in different ways; some at a stipulated
price for each foot of the rock excavated, and
others at a certain rate per carga (three hundred
pounds) of ore carried to the surface. On reaching
the greatest depth, where the ore is very rich, I took
a pick and knocked off some fine specimens. We now
retraced our steps, and reached the open air in safety.

It is an evidence of the admirable system pursued
here, and the watchful care exercised by the company
over their employees, that no accident has yet happened


to any miner or carrier engaged in these subterranean
labors. The workmen, nevertheless, are not without
their fears, and have taken their own method to secure
themselves from harm, by placing in a niche just within
the entrance to the mine, an image of their saint,
very prettily decorated with muslin and gaudy silks.
Before this every man falls on his knees, and says his
prayers, invoking the protection of the saint during the
day. I have never seen a more happy and contented
set of laborers than these.

Knowing the effects of mercury on the system, the
question will naturally arise in the mind of the reader
as to whether those employed in the mine or about the
furnaces suffer from their close contact with the ore or
the quicksilver. The miners, and those who merely
handle the cinnabar, are not injured thereby; but those
who work about the furnaces, and inhale the fumes of
the metal, are seriously affected. Salivation is common;
.and the attendants on the furnaces are compelled to
desist from their labor every three or four weeks, when
a fresh set of hands is put on. The horses and mules
are also salivated; and from twenty to thirty of them
die every year from the effects of the mercury.

The ore, after it is deposited near the furnaces, is
separated according to its quality. The larger masses
are first broken up, and then all is piled up under
sheds near the furnace doors. Seven or eight days are
required to fill the furnaces, extract the quicksilver,
and remove the residuum, the latter being the most
dangerous part of the process. All is done as much
in the open air as possible, the furnaces being merely
protected by a roof.


I took several sketches of the village of New Almaden,
as well as of the exterior of the mine, and the
picturesque scenery in the vicinity. The company
possess a large tract of land here, including mountain,
hill, and valley. Much of it is well timbered. A fine
stream of water runs directly through the village; and
on its very margin is a natural soda spring, which may
yet make this spot doubly attractive.

This mine was long known to the Indians, who
resorted hither for the vermillion which they could collect
from the cinnabar. They had dug some thirty or
forty feet into the mountain; but it does not appear
ever to have been worked by the Spaniards. In recent
times, its commercial value was first discovered by
Senor Castillero, who became its legal owner. Don
José Castro, who subsequently became proprietor of
it, sold out his interest to Barron & Forbes, an English
house doing business in Mexico. Another partner
is Mr. Walkinshaw, an English gentleman long resident
in Mexico, and well skilled in mining. This gentleman
now resides about a mile from New Almaden, on
one of the natural parks which I have before described,
and which he is rendering still more beautiful by the
introduction of fruit-trees, vines, flowering shrubs, etc.
To this gentleman, to Mr. Young, the superintendent,
and Mr. Bester, the engineer, I feel under many obligations
for the civilities extended to me and the gentlemen
who were with me, in our visit to New Almaden
and its mine. After a sumptuous dinner, we took
the stage and returned to San José.

April 6th.

In coming to San José, I had the double
object in view of visiting the quicksilver mine, and of


continuing on by land to Monterey; but I here learned
that it would be impossible to proceed further by land,
as the heavy rains and freshets a few weeks before, had
carried away the bridges, and rendered the streams impassable,
except by swimming the horses. This I did
not feel disposed to do: so the only alternative was to
return to San Francisco, and go to San Diego by water.
We accordingly took the stage at 8 o'clock, with twenty-one
passengers inside and out; and reached San
Francisco at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

I remained in San Francisco six days, waiting for a
steamer to San Diego; and during this time I had the
pleasure of meeting with Captain Sutter, whose name
is well known to all who have heard or read of the
recent history of California. The history of his early
adventures has been on several occasions presented to
the public by letter-writers; so that it will be superfluous
at this time to relate them, excepting the following
anecdote, which I have not seen in print.

"While in Oregon, whither he had come from the
United States, Captain Sutter met with a party who
gave such a glowing account of California and particularly
of the valley of the Sacramento, that he determined
to visit it, believing it to be precisely the rich country
and salubrious climate of which he was in search. But
to get there was not so easy, there being then no communication
from Oregon by sea. He therefore shaped
his course for the Sandwich Islands, and from thence
to Mexico. At San Bias or Mazatlan, he found a vessel
about sailing for Monterey; he embarked in her, and
afterwards reached the Bay of San Francisco, nearly
twelve months after leaving Oregon. But the country


he was in search of was a perfect terra incognita even
to the people who then composed the settlement at
Yerba Buena; nor could he gain any information respecting
the river which led to it, or even as to where
it entered the bay. His scheme of settling in the interior
among the wild Indians, was considered a dangerous
one, and efforts were made to dissuade him from it;
but he had made up his mind to go, and accordingly
got a small boat and set off with a few men to find the
Sacramento River. They coasted along the bay in vain
for several days, and were about to abandon their
search, when one night as they were moving slowly
along by moonlight, Captain Sutter himself discovered
an opening which proved to be the mouth of that river.
He passed up it, and selected the spot where he built
his fort, and of which he afterwards obtained a grant
from the Mexican government."

When we hear of the pioneers of the West, we
imagine them to be such as our Daniel Boon, who led
the life of a hunter, trapper, and Indian fighter, until
his home was surrounded by settlers, when he again
moved farther off, desiring always to be beyond the
pale of civilization. Captain Sutter was not of this class;
although he has had his share in fighting the battles
of Europe, as well as encountering the Indian on the
prairie. He has the manners of an intelligent and courteous
gentleman, accustomed to move in polished society.
He speaks several languages with fluency. He is
kind, hospitable, and generous to a fault; as very many
Americans know who have lived on his bounty. Had
he been permitted to retain his immense estate on the
Sacramento, and dispose of it as wanted by actual settlers,


he would have been one of the richest men in
America; but speculators took advantage of his easy
disposition, led him into wild speculations, induced him
to lend his name to a large amount, and thus extorted
from him or compelled him to give up all of his valuable
property, but the Hock farm, where he now resides.
He still seems cheerful, and endeavors to make
the most of his misfortunes. When I saw him, he told
me he had not visited San Francisco for a year.*


Leave San Francisco—Monterey—Its harbor—Society—Californian ladies
—Father Juniper Serro's account of Monterey in 1770—Visit to the Mission
of San Carlos at Carmel—Father Garces' visit in 1777—Leave
Monterey—Point Conception—San Pedro—Visit to Los Angeles—Rich
prairies—Large herds of cattle—Vineyards and wines—Indians of the
Missions—Mission of San Gabriel—Return to San Pedro—Craw fish—
Arrival at San Diego—Preparations for return to El Paso—Engage
Mr. Leroux as guide—Trip to Los Coronados—Description of these
islands—Sea Lions—Climate of San Diego—Visit to the Mission of San
Luis Rey—Extensive buildings—Fine Valley—Kechi Indians—History
of Father Peyri—Description of the harbor of San Diego—Viscaino's
account of San Diego in 1602—Father Juniper Serro's account in
1769—Mission of San Diego—Picturesque situation—Fine lands—Olive
trees—Society of San Diego—Initial Point and monument on the Pacific.

ON the 14th of April I embarked in the steamer Ohio
for Monterey, at which place I intended availing myself
of a polite invitation given me by Captain Ottinger,
of the United States revenue cutter Frolic, to take
passage with him for San Diego. His duties required
him to stop at the various ports between the two
places, which would give me a better opportunity to
see the country than by remaining on board the
steamer. We went to sea at five P. M. with a large
number of passengers, and, having but little wind,


shot rapidly through the "Golden Gate." Outside
it was so calm, that the broad surface of the Pacific
resembled an ocean of glass.

April 15th.

Reached Monterey at eleven, A. M.,
where I found Captain Ottinger with his beautiful
little craft.

The coast between San Francisco and Monterey
presents nothing but low sandy hills, covered with
chapporal or scanty verdure. Large quantities of sand
are blown up from the sea, and in many places overtop
the vegetation.

On coming to this place from San Francisco, one
is struck with its remarkable dulness; yet until the
discovery of gold in the country, it was the chief
place on the coast, and the capital of California.
Many of its houses are now deserted, or in a dilapidated
state, and the grass may be seen growing in
its streets.

The town is prettily situated on a gentle slope of
land, facing the north, about two miles from Point
Pinos, which forms the southern extremity of the harbor
or roadstead. The harbor is not a good one,
being exposed to the prevailing north-westerly winds,
and exhibiting a long beach, with as troublesome a surf
as the open sea. From the southwesters it is well protected
by Point Pinos. On the east is a succession of
small hills, rising one above the other directly from the
slope on which the town stands, and covered chiefly
with pines. Behind, and immediately contiguous to
these, rises the coast range of mountains. On the
north, the bay makes a broad semi-circular sweep some
fifteen or twenty miles distant, terminating at a point

[Figure] MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA.—p. 72. vol. ii.


on the ocean opposite to, though far outside of, Point
Pinos, and not visible from the town. The houses are
of two classes; first, those of adobe, belonging to the
old town. These are large and well built, many being
of two stones, with projecting eaves to protect them
from the sun. Those of wood are of recent erection,
and have not the substantial appearance of the adobe
buildings; these latter have very thick walls as a security
from the earthquakes, which, though not severe,
are quite common here. An old church stands alone
upon the plain east of the town, which appeared to be
in a ruinous condition. Beyond this is a lagoon, said to
have been formerly connected with the bay, but now
separated from it by a sandy beach, and a grassy meadow,
about a quarter of a mile in width. The old presidio,
or garrison, is on an elevation back of the town,
towards Point Pinos, and is now occupied by United
States troops.

Monterey has always been noted for its excellent
society; and although the Americans have monopolized
every other town in the State, it still preserves
much of its original character. The old Californian or
Castilian families are still in the ascendancy; but the
young Americans and other foreigners are making terrible
inroads upon them, and carrying off their fair
daughters. Many officers of the United States army
have married in California; and from what I heard,
here and at other places, others intend following their
example. The young senoritas certainly possess many
attractions; and although shut up in this secluded
part of the world, without the advantages of a good
education, or of intercourse with refined society, they


need not fear a comparison with our own ladies. In
deportment they are exceeding gentle and ladylike,
with all the natural grace and dignity which belong to
the Castilian nation. Their complexion is generally as
fair as the Anglo-Saxon, particularly along the sea coast,
with large black eyes and hair. In this respect they
differ much from the Mexican ladies of the interior,
who are generally brunettes. In form too they differ
from their Mexican sisters. The latter are too often
short and stout, while the Californian ladies are as
slender and delicate in form as those of our Atlantic
States. I was struck too with the elegance and purity
of their language, which presented a marked contrast
with the corrupt dialect spoken in Mexico.

The Californians as a people appear superior to the
Mexicans, which may be attributed to two causes.
Both countries, it is true, were colonized by the same
race; but I think a superior class of men came to California,
who have preserved their Castilian blood from
all admixture with that of the aborigines. There were,
doubtless, fewer of the poorer class too who came
here, owing to the greater length and cost of the journey,
and the increase by immigration has been trifling
since. The original colonists possessed large tracts of
lands, and have ever since continued in an isolated
state, marrying among themselves, and enjoying a life
of luxury and ease. The climate, unlike that of Mexico,
is healthy and invigorating; while the humid
atmosphere of the coast gives a fairness and brilliancy
to the complexion unknown to the dry and burning
plains of Mexico.

Although San Francisco will always rank first in


the scale of Californian cities, by reason of its superior
harbor and great commercial facilities, Monterey will
become the residence of gentlemen of fortune, on
account of its more genial climate and its distance from
the noise and bustle of a great city. It will be to San
Francisco what Newport is now to New York.

The following account of Monterey was written by
the Reverend president of the California missions, F. Junipero
Serra, to his biographer, Father Palou, in a letter
announcing his arrival at this place. It appears that
an expedition sent by land to Monterey failed to reach
it, but found San Francisco; and that subsequently
two other expeditions, one by land the other by water,
were sent in search of it. In the latter of these was
Father Junipero. He thus writes:*

"Long live Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

"Reverend Father, Professor, and President, Fr.
Francisco Palou:

"My dearest Friend and Sir:—

On the 31st of May,
by the favor of God, after a painful voyage of a month
and a half, the packet San Antonio, commanded by
Don Juan Peres, arrived and anchored in this horrible
port of Monterey, which is the same, unaltered in
appearance and condition, that it was when visited
by the expedition of Don Sebastian Viscayno, in the
year 1603. It gave me great satisfaction to learn that
eight days previous the land expedition had arrived,
and with it Father Juan, and that all were in good
health. When the holy day of Pentecost arrived,


which was on the 3d of June, the whole of the officers,
naval as well as military, and all the people, assembled
together in a small ravine, where the Fathers caused
an altar to be erected, and the bells to be rung. They
then chanted the Veni Creator, blessed the water,
erected and blessed a grand cross and the royal standards,
and chanted the first mass that was ever performed
in this place. We afterwards sung the Salve
to our Lady, before an image of the most illustrious
Virgin, which occupied the altar, and then I preached
a sermon. We concluded the festival with a Te Deum.
After this the officers took possession of the country
in the name of our Lord the King, whom God preserve.
We all dined together in a shady place on the
beach; the whole ceremony being accompanied by
many volleys and salutes, on the land as well as from
the vessels. To God alone be the honor and glory!

"With regard to the former expedition, its not
finding the port of which it was in search, and having
asserted that it did not exist, I will express no opinion,
and will not judge of their motives. It is enough to
say, that it has been found, and the duty performed,
although rather late. This I desire may be made
known to the Visitor General, and to all those who feel
an interest in this spiritual conquest.

"Mission of San Carlos de Monterey. June, the
day of San Antonio Padua, 1770.

"I kiss your hands, etc.

April 16th.

This morning I got a horse and rode
out to the Mission of San Carlos, on the river Carmel,


four miles from Monterey. The ride was a delightful
one over gentle hills, and through valleys with beautiful
grassy slopes, thickly wooded with pine, fir, and oak
trees. The whole country about Monterey presents
a most pleasing prospect to the eye, after seeing the
parched and barren hills along the coast.

The Mission establishment, which consists of a church
and the usual accompaniments of a large in closure with
ranges of small buildings, stands upon a little elevation
between the hills and the sea, from which it is distant only
a few hundred yards. The church which is built of stone,
has two towers, containing six bells; its walls are very
thick, with an arched roof, and supported by heavy buttresses.
The towers, as usual, differ. The adobe buildings
near, were all in a state of ruin, and tenantless;
not a human being was to be seen near, while the rank
grass and weeds which monopolized the ground, showed
that even curiosity did not often tempt visitors to its
deserted precincts. One corner of the church began to
show the ravages of time: its cornice had fallen, and
weeds had already taken root among its opening crevices.
The remains of an orchard and vineyard, are still seen
near, in a decaying state. Small pine trees cover the
hills within a short distance of the church; and on its
other side, the ocean rolls up its waves with a dull monotonous
sound, which adds to the solitary feeling of
the place.

Near by, the river Carmel, a diminutive stream, to
which the appellation of brook would be more appropriate,
emerges from a valley between two high ranges
of grass-covered hills, and falls into the sea. Up this
valley I noticed ploughed fields and ranchos; beyond


it higher mountains arise, completely shutting in the
river on the East.

This Mission was for some time the residence of the
Fathers Juniper Serra, and Francisco Palou, two of the
most distinguished of the early Catholic missionaries in
California. When Father P. Font arrived in Monterey,
in 1777, from Sonora, in Mexico, with a body of men to
strengthen the Colony at that place, he says the "Father
President, F. Junipero Serra, with four other priests,
came from the mission of San Carlos to welcome us,
and we chanted mass in thanksgiving for our safe
arrival;" and it "was determined that we should go to
the mission of Carmel, as there were no lodgings for us
here."*. . He states that there were seven priests
at the mission, that it was "an excellent spot, and the
land very fertile."

April 17th.

Set sail from Monterey in the U. S.
revenue cutter Frolic, Captain Ottinger. The wind
was ahead and light; so that by dark we were scarcely
beyond Point Pinos, so named from the pines which
grow upon it, and which distinguish it from the barren
head-lands on the Californian coast.

April 18th.

At sea. With a fresh breeze from the
north-west, we scudded along finely. It is necessary
to keep at a distance from the land, as there are no
light-houses on the coast.

April 19th.

Hailed the Pacific mail-steamer Northerner
as she passed us, and put letters on board for the
United States, as we should be too late for the mail at
San Diego. Towards evening the winds died away,


leaving us within a quarter of a mile of Point Conception.
This is a plateau extending a couple of miles
beyond the coast range of mountains. Saw two or three
ranchos, surrounded by clusters of trees, and large numbers
of cattle grazing upon the declivities of the mountains
and upon the plain, which, to judge from its brilliant
green hue, was covered with rich grass. In the
night, the wind came around from the north-east with
a thick fog.

April 20th.

The northern point of the island of
Santa Rosa, bore south six miles. Light winds and
calms during the day. At 2 P. M. the steamer Active,
of the Coast Survey, passed us. At nine, saw a light
ahead and pursued it for an hour or more, thinking the
vessel it was in might prove a smuggler. Finally came
up with and hailed her; when she was found to be a
small craft bound to the islands in search of sea-lions,
which abound there, and are taken for the oil they

April 21st.

Light winds during the day, with fog
and haze. Could discover no current. Reached San
Pedro at 9 P. M., and came to anchor. The wind blew
quite fresh from the north-west during the night.

April 22d.

San Pedro is an open bay or roadstead,
about fifteen miles across from the two points which
bound it, and scarcely deserves the name of a harbor.
It is exposed to the prevailing winds, and affords no
protection save on the east and north. When caught
with a southerly gale, vessels are obliged to stand across
to the islands of Catalina, twelve miles distant, for safety.
It is the Port of Los Angeles, twenty-nine miles
distant, and contains but two houses. These are quite


large, being used as warehouses for merchandise, as
well as for dwellings. Vessels stop here for water,
which has to be carted from a distance of three miles.
Many also provide themselves here with beef, which
is furnished at a less rate than at other places.

I was desirous to visit Los Angeles for the purpose
of buying mules, which were scarce and high at San
Diego. Soon after breakfast I went on shore with
Captain Ottinger, and we both took the stage then
about to start for Los Angeles. There were twelve
passengers to go, who filled two ordinary lumber wagons,
each drawn by four mules. On leaving the
coast, the road was somewhat hilly for a few miles.
Passed several lagoons about three miles from San
Pedro, in which were large numbers of ducks, plover,
curlew, and snipe, embracing varieties which I had
not before seen; on leaving these, we entered upon a
broad plain, which extended as far as the eye could
reach, unbroken by hill or tree. This plain, the surface
of which was slightly undulating, was covered with
luxuriant grass and clover; and sometimes a patch of
yellow mustard, growing to the height of five or six
feet, filled a space of a mile or two. Flowers of brilliant
hues were thickly scattered over the plain, giving
it here and there a tingle of purple, orange, or yellow.
In every direction, the eye fell upon large herds of
cattle and horses luxuriating on the rich grass; so
numerous were they, that at one time there could not
have been less than ten thousand head in sight.

It was here that a skirmish took place between Commodore
Stockton, or a party sent by him, and the Californians;
but from what I could learn, it was little


more than a running fight, in which no great harm was
done by either party.

We reached "La Ciudad de los Angeles," the City
of Angels, at 4 o'clock, and put up at the "Bella
Union," a very indifferent hotel. At the most miserable
tavern in the back woods, I have found better
accommodations than at this place.

After dinner, I called at the office of the "Los Angeles
Star," to obtain a file of the paper, which contains
a series of articles on the Californian Indians. Mr.
Rand, one of the editors, cheerfully complied with my
request, and gave me the papers I desired. I also met
Mr. Hayes here, a gentleman connected with the bar,
who, with Mr. Rand, manifested much interest in the
objects of my inquiry; and Mr. Hayes kindly offered
to accompany me to the mission of San Gabriel, twelve
miles distant, where resided Mr. Hugo Reid, the author
of these papers. These gentlemen informed me that
Mr. Reid was better acquainted with the Indians of that
portion of the State than any other person. With the
hope therefore of obtaining more information on this
subject, I gladly accepted the proposal of Mr. Hayes;
and we agreed to set off for the Mission as soon as
horses could be procured.

After waiting two hours, the horses promised Mr.
Rand were still not forthcoming; we were therefore
compelled to give up our ride this afternoon, and postpone
it until morning. I regretted this, as I had intended
to pass the evening at the Mission, and return
in the morning in time to take the stage back to San
Pedro. The horses were promised to be saddled and
at the door by 5 o'clock in the morning.


Spent the hour that remained before dark in walking
over the hills with Mr. Hayes. Los Angeles is situated
in one of the finest agricultural districts in the
State. It has at various times contained from fifteen
hundred to two thousand inhabitants, and was formerly
a place of much wealth. There are many large haciendas
and ranchos in the valley, which is in a high state
of cultivation, abounding in orchards and vineyards.
Judging of the wine I saw, and the imperfect mode followed
in producing it, there is no doubt that an article
of superior quality might be made here in abundance.

I saw more Indians about this place than in any
part of California I had yet visited. They were chiefly
"Mission Indians," i. e. those who had been connected
with the missions, and derived their support from them
until the suppression of those establishments. They
are a miserable squalid-looking set, squatting or lying
about the corners of the streets, without occupation.
They have now no means of obtaining a living, as their
lands are all taken from them; and the missions for
which they labored, and which provided after a sort
for many thousands of them, are abolished. No care
seems to be taken of them by the Americans; on the
contrary, the effort seems to be, to exterminate them
as soon as possible. One of the most intelligent of
them, who was brought to me by the kindness of my
friends here, was unacquainted with the name of the
tribe to which he belonged, and only knew that it had
been attached to certain missions. I obtained from
him a vocabulary, which I found on examination, to be
the Diegeno language, with some words different from
that obtained at San Diego.


April 3d.

Up at daylight, to reach the Mission of
San Gabriel by breakfast-time; but the horses were
not ready, as promised. After waiting three hours,
we concluded to breakfast here. The horses at last
were brought, the only excuse for the delay being that
they could not be caught before. It now began to rain;
but hoping that it would not continue, we set off,
Mr. Rand accompanying me. But after we had got
about three miles, the prospect for fair weather grew
less encouraging; and as we were already pretty wet,
we thought it best to give up the jaunt and return,
much to my regret. Being thus disappointed in seeing
the Mission, I was kindly furnished by the editors of
the "Los Angeles Star" with the following brief
account of it, which had appeared in their paper a few
days before:

"Situated in the midst of a fertile valley, surrounded
with abundant timber, and supplied by a thousand
springs, with an inexhaustible flow of water, the
Mission of San Gabriel flourished and became exceedingly
rich. Authentic records are said to exist which
show that at one time the mission branded fifty thousand
calves, manufactured three thousand barrels of wine,
and harvested one hundred thousand fanegas (two hundred
and sixty-two thousand bushels) of grain a year.
The timber for a brigantine was cut, sawed, and fitted
at the mission, and then transported to and launched at
San Pedro. Five thousand Indians were at one time collected
and attached to the mission. They are represented
to have been sober and industrious, well clothed
and fed; and seem to have experienced as high a state
of happiness as they are adapted by nature to receive.


"These five thousand Indians constituted a large
family, of which the Padres were the social, religious,
and we might almost say political, heads.

"Living thus, this vile and degraded race began to
learn some of the fundamental principles of civilized
life. The institution of marriage began to be respected,
and, blessed by the rites of religion, grew to
be so much considered that deviations from its duties
were somewhat unfrequent occurrences. The girls, on
their arrival at the age of puberty, were separated
from the rest of the population, and taught the useful
arts of sewing, weaving, carding, etc., and were only
permitted to mingle with the population when they
had assumed the characters of wives.

"When at present we look around and behold the
state of the Indians of this country—when we see
their women degraded into a scale of life too menial
to be even domestics—when we behold their men
brutalized by drink, incapable of work, and following
a system of petty thievery for a living, humanity cannot
refrain from wishing that the dilapidated Mission
of San Gabriel should be renovated, its broken walls
be rebuilt, its roofless houses be covered, and its deserted
halls be again filled with its ancient industrious,
happy, and contented original population."

I noticed here quantities of craw-fish, weighing
from two to ten pounds, which are taken in this bay.
We ate of them, and bought a quantity to take to
our friends in San Diego. Their flavor resembles that
of the lobster, but is so much inferior that they would
hardly be tolerated on the tables of the Atlantic coast.

We went on board our vessel before dark, and immediately


got under way, with a strong wind from
the north-west. Our little craft scudded before it with
great speed, the log showing thirteen and a half miles
an hour. This continued during the night, carrying
us rapidly towards our place of destination.

April 24th.

Passed Point Loma at eight o'clock,
and before nine anchored at San Diego. The first
news I heard was the removal of Mr. Gray as surveyor,
and the appointment of Major Emory in his place.
This compelled me to discharge all Mr. Gray's party,
and commit the completion of the survey of the Gila
to Lieutenant Whipple,—an arrangement which reduced
the party about to retrace its steps to the Rio
Grande about two fifths.

We now set vigorously to work to prepare for our
return. Our animals, which were so completely used up
in the journey out, had now recovered their strength,
with the exception of five or six, which were past
recovery. I had been unable to purchase any mules
at Los Angeles or elsewhere to the north, and was
compelled to depend wholly upon San Diego and its
vicinity to make up our deficiencies. Our camp
equipage had been procured in San Francisco; but the
harness and pack-saddles needed mending and putting
in order. The wagons also required the labor of the
blacksmith and carpenter on them.

A few days after my return, I was waited upon by
Mr. Antoine Leroux, of New Mexico, the celebrated
guide who had conducted Colonel Cooke and his
brigade to California in 1846, '47, and who had a short
time before arrived with the exploring party under
Captain Sitgreaves, which he had conducted by the


Zuñi River to the Colorado, and thence by Fort
Yuma to California. Mr. Leroux now wished to return
to New Mexico, and offered me the services of
himself and two men, together with several pack and
riding mules, for a moderate compensation. As my
party was now quite reduced, and as it was necessary
to hire more men, I gladly accepted the proposals of
Mr. L., and placed the animals and arrieros directly
under his charge, with orders to prepare the train as
soon as possible for the march.

While these preparations were being made, Lieutenant
Whipple and his assistants were busily occupied
in reducing his astronomical observations, and in plotting
the maps of the survey of the Gila as far as it had
been carried. Duplicates were also made of all the
notes connected with the survey, which were transmitted
by an officer to Washington for safe keeping.
For Lieutenant Whipple's Report of the survey of the
Gila, see Appendix D.

Before Captain Ottinger left, he invited me, with
others of the Commission, to accompany him on in
excursion to the Coronado Islands, a small group lying
twenty miles from San Diego. Some ten or twelve
gentlemen availed themselves of the Captain's politeness;
and, on the morning of the 5th of May, the
"Frolic" stood out to sea with a north-west wind,
which brought us to the islands in three hours. We
came to anchor about a quarter of a mile east of the
larger and more southerly island of the group.

One party immediately went with Captain Ottinger
to examine the anchorage about the islands, while
the other landed. This island rises so abruptly from


the sea, that it was with some difficulty that we could
find a landing place. Seeing a little nook, which the
dashing waters had worn away from the rocky mass,
we made for this, and succeeded in getting on shore.
From this place it required much labor to clamber
up the rocks for some fifty feet; after which the
ascent became easy, and we met with no difficulty
in reaching the crest of the island, half a mile distant.
The island is a solid wedge-shaped rock, about five
hundred feet high, save at the point where we landed,
where it is slightly shelving. It runs north-east and
south-west, and is about a mile in length, by half that
in breadth at its widest part. Towards the northern
end its breadth is less than a quarter of a mile. There
is some soil on its surface; yet it is entirely destitute
of trees. A few small shrubs are seen; and wherever
there is soil, it is covered with grass and a great abundance
of wild flowers, which in certain spots are so
numerous, that they appear like patches of orange,
purple, and yellow, when seen from the water. I
walked across and along the whole length of the
island, but could descend in no place except where
we landed. Cacti and other plants grew among the
rocks, of which Mr. Thurber obtained specimens.

About a mile to the north-west is another island of
nearly the same dimensions as that we were upon, and
between them two smaller ones, or rather two masses
of rocks, some fifty feet high, without any vegetation.
It was among these that Captain Ottinger wished to
examine the depth of water; and he was gratified to
find excellent anchorage there. Vessels may, therefore,
anchor on both sides of these islands, and be well protected


against south-east and south-west gales. The
protection from the north-west winds would not be so
good. One of these small islands was found to be
covered with sea-lions, huge animals as large as an ox.
The creatures were asleep when the party landed, and
suffered themselves to be approached by the seamen,
who for mere sport killed several, by knocking them
on the head with stones. Some were believed to
weigh as much as one thousand two hundred pounds.
Some fine fish were taken by the boats; and all were
again on board before dark. After starting on our
return, the wind died away and left us becalmed,
so that we did not reach San Diego until the following
morning. The Coronados were discovered and
named by Sebastian Viscaino, in the year 1602,
when he entered the port of San Diego.*

The harbor of San Diego abounds in excellent fish;
but, owing to the deficiency of timber, there is but
little game. Rabbits are plentiful, and occasionally a
deer is brought in. On the hills near, and for many
miles around, grow wild oats in great profusion, furnishing
an excellent fodder for horses and cattle. The
other productions are wheat, barley, maize, beans, and
vegetables of various kinds. The climate is mild and
healthy. During the months of March, April, and May,
fogs are frequent in the morning; and up to the
time when we left, there was scarcely a morning or
evening when a little fire was not necessary. The
atmosphere is at all times more moist, with much less
heat, than at San Francisco and the adjacent country.


While the preparations were being made for our
journey, I made a brief visit to the Mission of San
Luis Rey, forty miles north of San Diego. This is the
latest of all the California missions, and was founded in
1798. It stands in a rich valley, from one to two miles
wide, and is about three miles from the ocean, being
separated therefrom by a range of hills. Of all the
missionary establishments in the State, this possesses
the most extensive as well as the most imposing structure.
It is built of adobe, although stone and brick are
used in some portions of it. It faces the south, and has
a front of five hundred and thirty feet, the greater portion
of which exhibits a colonnade of some architectural
beauty, although but sixteen or eighteen feet high.* On
the front is also a church ninety feet in depth, with a
tower and dome. North and south, the dimensions are
upwards of six hundred feet. This vast space included
every thing that appertained to the mission. On the
south-eastern corner is a small Campo Santo. Next
comes the church with the priests' apartments immediately
adjoining, and a small inclosure, or garden, shut
in by the church walls on one side and by the main building
on the other. This garden was handsomely laid out,
and still contains a variety of fruit and ornamental
trees. The main building is about three hundred feet
square, with a colonnade in front. In the interior, is
an open area of the same dimensions, with a beautiful
colonnade all around. In the centre of this was a garden;
but the only plant of interest that remains, is a


pepper tree. This stands in a circular bed elevated
four or five feet above the area, and is protected by a

[Figure] Mission of San Luis Rey, California.

On the four sides of this extensive area are double
rows of apartments, some of which are very large, including
reception rooms, dining halls, sleeping apartments,
kitchen, &c. In the rear were corrals or inclosures
for cattle; so that every thing appertaining to
this vast establishment might be brought within its
walls. It is all in a good state of preservation except
the north-west corner of the area, where the roof has
fallen in. Some of the cattle yards and stables are also
out of repair. But the church, and nearly all the apartments
occupied for dwellings, are still habitable.


This establishment had been abandoned with most
of the other Californian missions; but when the United
States became the possessors of the country, several
claimants sprang up for it, and its valuable lands adjacent,
some resting on purchase, pretended or real, and
some on other grounds. It is said to have been purchased
by some native Californians from the government
about the time the country was changing owners,
who sold it to the Americans. Its ownership will be
settled by the Board of Land Commissioners appointed
by the United States government for the purpose. In
the mean time General Hitchcock, commanding the
Pacific Division of the U. S. Army, has placed a file of
soldiers here, to protect the property and keep off plunderers
and squatters.

I remained here two nights, accompanied by Dr.
Webb and Mr. Pratt, artist of the Commission, and was
hospitably entertained by the Sergeant in charge; the
officer in command being absent in San Diego. In
such a place as this, with such a range of buildings and
cultivated grounds, a prince or a nabob might luxuriate
to his heart's content. Near by is an extensive orchard
and garden, inclosed with high walls, and filled with
every variety of fruit-trees; but the acequias, or irrigating
canals, had been neglected, the dams and embankments
washed away, and the beautiful gardens and
shady walks, where the devotees passed the long
hours when not attending to their religious duties,
were all overflowed. A swamp filled with rushes and
rank weeds had taken possession of these walks and
groves; and here the screaming heron and other water
fowl had their hiding-places.


The Sergeant, at my request, sent for an old Indian
of the neighborhood, who called himself a chief. On
learning that an officer of the U. S. government wished
to see him, he made his appearance with three others
of his tribe. The old man presented himself in the
dress of a Mexican officer—a blue coat with red facings
trimmed with gold lace, and a high military cap and
feather. He was quite communicative, and answered
my questions readily. In giving me the words of his
language, he enunciated them with great distinctness,
and would not be satisfied with my pronunciation until
all could at once recognise the word. When I had
completed my vocabulary, and read off the native
words, he evinced great pleasure as he repeated the
corresponding word in Spanish, occasionally exclaiming
Bueno, or Muy Bueno! He called his tribe the

On inquiring as to the state of things when the
padres were here, the old man heaved a deep sigh.
He said his tribe was large, and his people all happy,
when the good fathers were here to protect them. That
they cultivated the soil; assisted in rearing large herds
of cattle; were taught to be blacksmiths and carpenters,
as well as other trades; that they had plenty to
eat, and were happy. He remembered when three
thousand of his tribe were settled in the valley, dependent
upon or connected with this mission. Now he said
they were scattered about, he knew not where, without
a home or protectors, and were in a miserable starving
condition. A few hundred alone remained in some
villages up the valley, a few miles from the mission.
He spoke with much affection of Father Peyri, its


original founder, who had resided here for thirty-four
years. At no time, he said, were there more than sixteen
Spanish soldiers here, who occupied a building
facing the mission, which is still standing.

Father Antonio Peyri took possession of this Mission
of San Luis Rey (i. e. St. Louis the king) in the
year 1798. He first built a small thatched cottage, and
asked for a few cattle and Indians from the mission.
At the end of his thirty-four years residence, he left it
stocked with nearly sixty thousand head of domesticated
animals of 'all sorts, and yielding an annual produce
of about thirteen thousand bushels of grain. After
so many years of successful labor, in which he expended
the most valuable part of his life, the worthy
Father left his mission with only what he judged sufficient
means to enable him to join his convent in the
city of Mexico, where he threw himself upon the charity
of his order. The toil of managing such an establishment,
would be sufficient motive for a man of Father
Peyri's age to retire; but the new order of things, which
had introduced new men and new measures, accelerated
his resignation. Whatever his motives may have
been, his voluntary retirement in poverty, to spend the
remainder of his days in pious exercises, must be
applauded by the religious; and his noble disinterestedness
by all.

Mr. Alexander Forbes, who met the venerable Peyri,
and who has given us this account of his history, thus
closes his remarks on this mission, and the affection
entertained by the Indians for their pastor: "The best
and most unequivocal proof of the good conduct of
these Fathers, is to be found in the unbounded affection


and devotion invariably shown towards them by
their Indian subjects. They venerate them not merely
as friends and fathers, but with a degree of devotedness
approaching to adoration. On the occasion of the
removals that have taken place of late years, from political
causes, the distress of the Indians in parting
with their pastors has been extreme. They have
entreated to be allowed to follow them in their exile,
with tears and lamentations, and with all the demonstrations
of true sorrow and unbounded affection. Indeed,
if there ever existed an instance of the perfect
justice and propriety of the comparison of the priest
and his disciples to a shepherd and his flock, it is in
the case of which we are treating. These poor people
may indeed be classed with the 'silly sheep' rather
than with any other animal; and I believe they would,
in the words of the poet, even 'lick the hand though
it was raised to shed their blood'—if this were the hand
of the friar."*

The harbor of San Diego is second only to that of
San Francisco on the Californian coast. On the north
and north-west, it is formed by Point Loma, a neck of
land which stretches far into the ocean terminated by
a bold bluff, one of the most prominent and well-marked
headlands on the coast. From this the shore takes
an easterly direction for about four miles, when it turns
and runs from twelve to fifteen miles towards the south.
The southern and western shores of the bay, are low
and sandy. The south-western shore is no more than
a sand beach, connected by a narrow neck with the


main land, and for the greater portion of its length is
little more than a natural breakwater. The northern
part of this neck is more elevated and about a mile

[Figure] San Diego, California.

across. Point Loma and the northern shore of the
bay, is a promontory about two hundred feet high,
and nearly two miles wide, tapering off gradually with
a succession of hills as it approaches the town. These
hills were covered with chapporal; their declivities,
both on the side of the ocean and of the harbor, being
cut into deep ravines. At the base on the inner side,
is good grazing.

The entrance to this harbor is not more than three or
four hundred yards wide. There is a deep channel leading
into the inner harbor, which requires some skill in


navigating; but when once the entrance is passed,
there is an abundance of water. I saw large ships
some six miles within this harbor, and was informed
that the Pacific mail steamers, and one of our frigates,
had also been there. An accurate survey has lately
been made by the United States "Coast Survey" and
elaborate maps published with the soundings and all
the bearings laid down, to enable navigators to enter it.

About half a mile from Point Loma, is the Playa,
or beach, where the mail steamers, and other vessels,
stop for coal and supplies. It is convenient of access
with any wind, and affords a safe anchorage. Here is
a small village, and the "hide houses "which have become
somewhat celebrated from the graphic account
of life in California, and the process of curing hides,
given by Mr. Dana, in his "Two Years before the
Mast." They still stand precisely as he describes them,
and are now only used as barns or store-houses. A
fine road along the beach leads to the old town of San
Diego, standing on a flat at the base of a high hill
which extends about two miles to the south: this flat
reaches more than a mile into the bay, preventing the
nearer approach of vessels or boats. It also extends
northwardly to a shallow opening on the north side of
the promontory before described, called "False Bay."

At San Diego, a small stream runs into the bay;
but during the summer, it becomes dry. At its floods,
it brings down great quantities of sand, which are deposited
in the channel; whence fears of serious injury
to the harbor have been entertained. To obviate this,
it has been proposed to change the course of the river
to False Bay, into which it formerly run. It would no


doubt be beneficial, and the plan is worthy the attention
of the government.

Three miles south of San Diego is another town
near the shore of the bay, which was surveyed and
plotted by Mr. Gray, U. S. Surveyor to the Boundary
Commission, while on duty here. This is called "New
San Diego." It consists of a few substantial frame
houses, and is the depot for the United States Subsistence
and the Quarter-master's Departments. A large
and fine wharf was built here at a great expense; but
there is no business to bring vessels here, except an
occasional one with government stores. There is no
water nearer than the San Diego river, three miles distant.
Efforts indeed are making to find it with an Artesian
well; but with what success, remains to be seen.
There is no timber near, and wood has to be brought
some eight or ten miles: nor is there any arable land
within four miles. Without wood, water, or arable
land, this place can never rise to importance. At the
head of the bay are some good lands with pastures for
grazing. The bottom lands along the stream back of
the old town of San Diego, possess great fertility, and
with proper attention might be made very productive.

The admirable harbor of San Diego and its position
on the coast, will always make it an important stopping
place for shipping; but whether the Playa or beach near
the entrance, the old town of San Diego, or "Gray
Town" as New San Diego is called by the people of the
old town, will have the ascendancy, remains to be seen:
—each has its advantages and disadvantages.

It appears from the early Spanish writers, that the
promontory north-west of the harbor was once well


wooded; a fact not generally known. The earliest
published account of this harbor, must possess an interest
for all who watch the progress of California. The
reader, too, will perceive, as in the case of San Francisco
and Monterey, that the early discoverers saw the
great advantages of the places; although it was left for
the Americans one hundred and fifty years later to avail
themselves of them. The United States were in possession
of California before the discovery of its gold
placers; and although they have been the means of its
rapid advancement to the extraordinary rank it has
now attained, yet it is certain that, even without the
gold, it would sooner or later have become what it now
is, from its agricultural resources and great commercial

Sebastian Viscaino having been employed as early
as the year 1594 in the "pacification and conquest of
California," was selected as the head of an expedition
fitted out for further explorations and colonization in
1602. After touching at various places in Lower California,
it reached the Coronados Islands. "To the
north of these islands," says the narrative, "on the
main land, is the famous harbor called San Diego,
which the squadron entered at seven in the evening,
on the 10th of December; and the day following,
the general ordered several persons to survey a forest
lying on the north-west side of the bay. This expedition
was undertaken by Ensign Alarcon, Captain Peguero,
Father Antonio de la Ascension, and eight
soldiers. In this forest they found tall and straight
oaks and other trees, some shrubs resembling rosemary,
and a great variety of fragrant and wholesome plants.


The high grounds commanded a view of the whole
harbor, which appeared spacious, convenient, and well
sheltered. The forest borders on the harbor, towards
the north-west, and is about three leagues in length, and
half a league in breadth. And to the north-west of the
wood is another harbor. On their return with their
report to the general, he ordered a tent to be pitched
for religious worship, and that the ships should be
cleaned and tallowed, the people in the mean time
being employed in wooding and keeping guard. They
had their water from a little island of sand, where they
dug deep trenches, in which, during the flood, the
water was fresh and good, but on the ebb salt. One
day a sentinel placed in the wood gave notice that he
saw a great number of Indians coming along the shore,
naked, and their skins daubed with black and white
colors, and armed with bows and arrows. On this the
general desired Father Antonio to go and offer them
peace. He was attended by Ensign Juan Francisco
and six soldiers. On coming up to the Indians, having
made signs of peace with a bit of white linen, and
throwing the earth up with their hands, the savages
immediately delivered their bows and arrows to the
soldiers. Father Antonio embraced them; gave them
bread and necklaces, with which they were greatly
pleased. But on coming to the general's quarters, the
Indians, at the sight of such a number of men, drew
back to a little eminence, from whence they sent two
women. These approaching the general's tent with a
timid air, the religious and others made them presents
of beads, biscuits, and strings of bugles; and then
dismissed them, to give their countrymen an account


of the usage they had met with from the strangers.
Their report was doubtless very favorable; for soon
after they all came with them to see the Spaniards.
Most of them were painted or besmeared with black
and white, and their heads loaded with feathers. The
general and others received them with great courtesy,
distributing among them several things, and a great
many fish which had been caught with the net in their
presence. The kind of paint they used looked like a
mixture of silver and blue color; and on asking them
by signs what it was, they gave them a piece of metallic
ore, from whence they made it; and signified by
signs that a certain people up the country, who had
beards and were clothed like the Spaniards, made from
this material very fine ribbons, resembling the laces on
the soldiers' buff coats; and some like that on a purple
velvet doublet, in which the general was then
dressed; adding, that these men, by their dress, complexion,
and customs, seemed to be of the same country
with themselves. The Indians were quite transported
with the good treatment shown them, and
every third day came for biscuit and fish, bringing
with them skins of several kinds of beasts, as sables,
wild cats, and the nets with which they catch them."*

Another interesting account of San Diego is contained
in a letter written by Father Junipero Serra to
Father Palou, in the year 1769, when the former
landed here for the purpose of establishing the mission:

"My dear Friend and Sir:—

Thank God, I arrived


the day before yesterday, the first of the month, at
this port of San Diego, truly a fine one, and with reason
famous. Here I found those who had set out
before me, by sea as well as by land, excepting such
as died on the way. The brethren, Fathers Crespi,
Biscayno, Parron, and Gomez are here, and, with myself,
all well, thanks be to God. Here are also two
vessels; but the San Carlos is without seamen, all
having died except one and the cook. The San Antonio,
although she sailed a month and a half later,
arrived twenty days before the San Carlos, losing on
the voyage eight seamen. In consequence of this loss,
the San Antonio will return to San Blas, to procure
seamen for herself and the San Carlos. The causes of
the delay of the San Carlos were, first, the want of
water, and, second, the error which all were in respecting
the situation of this port. They supposed it to be
in thirty-three or thirty-four degrees north latitude;
and strict orders were given to Captain Vila and the
rest to keep out in the open sea till they should arrive
in thirty-four degrees, and then make the shore in
search of the port. As, however, the port in reality
lies in 32° 34′, according to the observations which
have now been made, they went far beyond the port,
thus making the voyage much longer than was necessary.
The people got daily worse from the cold and
the bad water; and they must all have perished, if they
had not discovered the port about the time they did;
for they were quite unable to launch the boat to procure
more water, or to do any thing whatever for their
preservation. The Father Fernando did every thing
in his power to relieve the sick; and although he


arrived much reduced in flesh, he had not the disorder,
and is now well. We have not suffered hunger or
privations, neither have the Indians who came with
us; all have arrived fat and healthy. The track
through which we have passed is generally very good
land, with plenty of water; and there, as well as here,
the country is neither rocky nor overcome with brushwood.
There are, however, many hills, but they are
composed of earth. The road has been in many places
good, but the greater part bad. About half way, the
valleys and banks of rivulets began to be delightful.
We found vines of a large size, and in some cases quite
loaded with grapes; we also found abundance of roses,
which appeared to be the same as those of Castile. In
fine, it is a good country, and very different from that
of Old California. We have seen Indians in immense
numbers; and all those on this coast of the Pacific contrive
to make a good subsistence on various seeds, and
by fishing; this they carry on by means of rafts, or
canoes made of tule (bulrush), with which they go a
great way to sea. They are very civil. All the males,
old and young, go naked; the women, however, and
even the female children, were decently covered from
their breasts downwards. We found in our journey,
as well as in the places where we stopped, that they
treated us with as much confidence and good will as
if they had known us all their lives; but when we
offered them any of our victuals, they always refused
them. All they cared for was cloth; and only for
something of this sort would they exchange their fish
or whatever else they had.

"From this port and intended mission of San


Diego, in Northern California, 3d July, 1769. I kiss
the hands of your Reverence, and am your affectionate
brother and servant,


Six miles from the town of San Diego, following
up the valley, is the venerable Mission of the same
name, a spot possessing great picturesque beauty, and

[Figure] Mission of San Diego.

surrounded by fertile and well watered lands. It was
the last of the California missions that was abandoned;
and but five years ago its ancient library and its


priest still remained. The buildings, which are of
adobe, are not extensive, but are in good preservation.
They possess more of an Oriental appearance than
any similar establishments. There was formerly a
large vineyard and orchard, containing figs, peaches,
etc., a portion of which is still in existence. The
place is celebrated also for a flourishing orchard of
olive trees, which still remains, yielding a great abundance
of olives, the excellence of which we had an
opportunity of testing on our homeward journey.
The mission is at present occupied by United States
troops, under the command of Colonel J. B. Magruder,
and in consequence is kept in good repair.

San Diego, like Monterey, is noted for its excellent
society. There remain many of the old Castilian
families here, who have preserved their blood from all
admixture with the Indians. In this circle, all Americans
and foreigners visiting the place have experienced
much pleasure; for such is its refined and
social character, that one almost imagines himself
again enjoying the delights of home. The Californian
ladies are said to possess all the finer qualities of the
sex, whether of the head or the heart, and to make
most excellent wives. Such have been the attractions
of these fair señoritas for the young American officers,
that many have been induced to relinquish their commissions
in the United States army, and become
planters or stock raisers in California.

While detained here, I took occasion to visit the
monument erected at the Initial Point, on the Pacific,
of the boundary between the United States and Mexico,
one marine league south of the southernmost point


of the Bay of San Diego." It is an obelisk of white
marble, resting on a pedestal, and is about twenty feet
in height. It stands near the margin of the table-land,
about two hundred yards from the sea shore, and
bears the name of the Commissioner, Surveyor, and
Astronomer of the two governments, together with
the latitude and longitude, viz.:

Latitude north, 32° 31′ 59″ 58′;

Longitude, 7h 48′ 21″ 01 west from Greenwich.

[Figure] Monument at Initial Point, Pacific.

This monument stands directly opposite the Coronado
Islands, and is seen from a great distance on land
as well as by vessels at sea. On the table-land around
and south of it, grow large numbers of the beautiful


My journeys through California were not sufficiently
extensive to enable me to discuss at length its agricultural
resources, nor would an essay of such a character
properly belong to a "personal narrative." But I saw
sufficient in the valleys of San José, Napa, Carmel,
near Monterey, Los Angeles, San Luis Rey, and San
Diego, to enable me most confidently to assert that a
finer agricultural country does not exist on the face of
the globe. Cereals of every description, wheat, maize,
barley, peas, rye, and oats grow to perfection, some
in one portion, others in other portions of the State,
every where yielding more than in any part of the
Atlantic States or the Mississippi Valley. Fruits of
every kind, including the grape, apples, pears, peaches,
plums, cherries, etc., arrive at perfection. But in
vegetables especially, whether we regard their variety,
their enormous yield, or their excellent flavor, California
certainly surpasses any thing I have ever seen in
the United States. But the valleys I have mentioned
are small in comparison with the broad and magnificent
basins of the Sacramento and San Joachin Rivers and
their numerous tributaries. The head waters of the
San Joachin and the Tulare plains, which are yet
unexplored and unsettled, are said to be admirably
adapted to the cultivation of rice and cotton. The
southern part of the State is more barren, having
fewer streams and valleys, with little or no timber.
But here occur those large grassy plains or prairies,
such as that between the coast and Los Angeles, so
well adapted to the raising of cattle. East of the
mountains which form the continuation of the Sierra
Nevada is a broad sandy desert, extending from the


head of the Gulf of California to the unexplored
region and great Central Basin, with which we have
been made acquainted by Colonel Frémont. This
desert is from one to two hundred miles in width, and
alike destitute of water and vegetation, excepting a
few thorny shrubs and cacti.

Before leaving California, I take this occasion to
acknowledge the favors rendered to the Boundary
Commission by the officers of the United States army
in California. To General Hitchcock, for the facilities
afforded me in my journey to the Geysers, and for an
escort of twenty-five men to the Pimo villages. To
Lieutenant Eddy, Commissary of Subsistence at San
Diego, for provisions furnished us during our stay in
the country, and for our homeward journey, as well as
for various acts of kindness and attention shown to the
members of the Commission. Also to Colonel J. Bank-head
Magruder, commanding at San Diego. To this
gentleman in particular, both personally and in behalf
of the government, I feel under the deepest obligation.
At a time when we were left without a carpenter or
blacksmith, and when none could be procured, this
officer permitted me to send to his mechanics my
wagons for repairs, and my animals to be shod, without
which aid I could not have left San Diego. In other
ways he was of great service to me and the Commission,
both during our stay in the country, and while
preparing for the journey before us.


Preparations for the journey to El Paso—Leave San Diego—Accident to
wagon—Snook's rancho—San Pasqual—Gen. Kearney's battle at this
place—Indian village—San Pasqual Mountain—Difficult ascent—Reach
camp at Santa Isabel—Deficiency of transportation—Leroux dispatched
for another wagon—Indians of Santa Isabel—A Mormon arrives with
a wagon—List of return party—Journey resumed—Luxuriant valley—
San Felipe—Indians—Their mode of life—Narrow mountain pass—
Vallecita—Desert appearance—Carrizo creek—Increased barrenness—
Intense heat—Mules run away—Skeletons and carcasses of animals—
Immense destruction of sheep—Utter desolation—Wagon upset—Sacket's
Well—Dig for water—Meet Lieut. Sweeney in pursuit of deserters
from Fort Yuma—Arrival of bearer of dispatches—Alamo Mucho.

ABOUT the middle of May the members of the Commission
left their quarters at San Diego, and encamped
some six miles distant near the Mission; where there
was good grazing, and where the animals had been
chiefly kept since our arrival. They were now busily
engaged in completing the preparations necessary
before setting out on so long and difficult a journey as


that before us. It was quite doubtful whether we
should have sufficient means of transportation; and to
make sure of this, all the provisions, tents, instruments,
personal baggage, etc., were sent out to the camp. Here
they were separated and weighed, or an estimate made,
so as to enable us to judge whether our two wagons
and twenty pack-mules would be sufficient. Uncertain
how long we should be in reaching El Paso, we took
seventy days' rations; in addition to which were a
quantity of medical stores and anti-scorbutics, including
fruits, vegetables, pickles, etc., as these important articles
were not to be procured on the way.

I was ill at this time with fever and ague, and
thought it most prudent to remain in quarters until the
parties had got ready to move, and in fact had passed
to a considerable distance into the interior, beyond the
reach of the fogs and humid atmosphere of the coast.
On the 26th, they commenced their march, intending
to stop at Santa Isabel, fifty-six miles distant, where I
was to join them.

Several days before this, I sent off twelve head of
beef-cattle belonging to the Commission, with an escort
of six soldiers, with orders to remain at Fort Yuma
until my arrival. This plan was recommended to me,
as the cattle could not keep up with us after reaching the
great desert; and when they entered upon that much
dreaded region, it was thought best that they should
not stop, but keep on day and night until water was
reached. A number of cattle were sent at the same
time to supply the garrison at Fort Yuma.

For my journey, I had provided myself with a small
wagon to be drawn by two mules, and a fine American


horse, which had been ridden across the country by
Mr. Gray. All the other members of the Commission,
as also the laborers, servants, cooks, and arrieros, were
provided with mules, which experience had shown to
be best for long journeys. They endure fatigue better
than horses, will thrive where horses will starve, and
in case of accident or emergency, may be used to carry
burdens or be harnessed to a team. It was with considerable
difficulty that I could procure good mules
here; and for those that I obtained, I paid from seventy-five
to one hundred dollars each. Nearly every
thing we had, including the tents, was new, our former
equipments having been to a great extent abandoned
on the journey out, as the animals failed, or as they
had become past restoring, from eighteen months' use,
and constant exposure to a dry heat, rain, or snow.

On the 26th of May, I left San Diego, in company
with Dr. Webb, in my small wagon, drawn by two
mules. These excellent animals, I must observe, were
the same that I started with from the coast of Texas in
September, 1850. They had served me in my rapid
journey to El Paso, and three times back and forth
from that place to the Copper Mines. They had drawn
my carriage in my first journey to Sonora, and subsequently,
with four others, brought a loaded wagon from
the Copper Mines to San Diego. Notwithstanding
these journeys and their constant use since we had been
in California, they were in as fine condition as when
they left the shores of the Atlantic.

My wagon was pretty heavily laden; and ere we
had got a mile beyond San Diego, in turning aside for
a train, it ran into a gully with such force as to spring


the wooden axle-tree and bend the iron one. The
injury did not appear to be serious; and as the road,
though hilly, was very good, we hastened on. But
this little accident, trifling as it seemed at first, proved
a constant source of annoyance to us throughout the

Ten miles from San Diego, is Soledad hill, which is
very steep and difficult to pass. One of our loaded
wagons had upset here a few days before. The whole
country hereabouts is hilly, and destitute of trees,
except in the small valleys, where the accumulation of
water after rains has sustained a few mezquit trees.
The hills on both sides, and as far as the eye can reach,
are covered with a thick growth of wild oats. Several
families have lately settled here, who make a profitable
business of cutting these oats and carrying them to
market at San Diego, where they are in good demand.
In the afternoon, we reached San Pasqual River, a small
and limpid stream, running through a rich valley
covered with fine grass, and in which hundreds of cattle
were grazing. About a mile in advance, we saw a
large rancho, to which we directed our course, having
been invited to pass the night there. This was the
hacienda of Mrs. Snooks, a California lady, the widow
of an Englishman, who now resides at San Diego.
Word having been sent to the family occupying the
rancho that I would stop here, we met with a hospitable
reception, and were provided with an excellent supper
and beds. This was formerly one of the largest stock-raising
establishments in the country; but the high
price of cattle at San Francisco has induced the owner to
drive them thither for sale. There were, however, still,


many hundreds remaining. The distance to San Diego
is called thirty-six miles.

San Pasqual was the scene of an action between
the United States troops and those of Mexico during
the late war. Our army was at one time in a perilous
situation, from which it was relieved by assistance sent
by Commodore Stockton, then at San Diego. I add
in a note Colonel Kearney's brief report of this affair.*

May 29th.

At seven o'clock, we took leave of our
hospitable friends; and continuing across the plain and


along the valley near the river, we reached, in six
miles, the Indian village of San Pasqual, consisting of
forty or fifty rude huts of mud, grass, and poles. A
few patches of ground seemed to be cultivated; but,


on the whole, the place bore a miserable appearance.
Few Indians were seen, as they were still indulging in

Crossing the San Pasqual River again, we reached
the base of the hill, or rather mountain, of the same


name, the terror of all travellers when accompanied
by wagons. We had heard much of this hill, and
were fully prepared to undertake the labor of passing
it. To keep our seats in the wagon was out of the
question; so we all got out, and literally put our
shoulders to the wheels. The driver, while he held
the reins, braced up the wagon to prevent its upsetting,
and Dr. Webb and myself alternately pushed
behind or chocked the wheels. The mules tugged
with all their strength, and we moved steadily though
slowly on, stopping every forty or fifty feet to let the
animals rest. The road pursued a zig-zag course,
winding along the side and around the hill, which
somewhat lessened the difficulty of the ascent. But
the steepness was not the greatest difficulty to encounter.
This consisted in the "sidling" places, where
the wagon could not stand upright, and required to be
held up with ropes while ascending or descending.
Then, again, portions of the road were very rocky,
and much gullied by running water. Occasionally
there was a cessation of hills, and a short piece of good
road; but then soon came descents, which were attended
with more trouble than the ascents; for the
wheels had to be locked, and the wagon held up with

In this way we journeyed the whole day with little
variation. San Pasqual forms part of a high mountain
ridge running north and south. From its summit we
had a fine view of the surrounding country, though
lesser hills extended far along its base. I have no
doubt that a closer reconnoissance of the country would
make known a more practicable route than this, by


avoiding such a frightful mountain. It answers well
enough for pack-mules, for which I presume it was
constructed; but it was never attempted to be passed
with wagons until Colonel Cooke crossed it in 1847.
A variety of trees and shrubbery grow along the road,
with the greatest abundance and variety of wild
flowers, for the most part, as is usual in this country,
of brilliant colors.

The long descent from this mountain, after the
higher portions had been passed, was comparatively
easy. We then reached valleys covered with live-oaks,
and affording an abundance of grass. Next, several
small hills, with intervening valleys and patches of
woodland, were passed, until we reached Santa Isabel.
When within a couple of miles of this place my mules
began to show the effects of their toilsome day's journey,
and the wagon was nearly disabled. Fearing
they would not get in, I took my servant's mule and
hastened on to our camp, which I reached at seven
o'clock, and sent two fresh mules back to the assistance
of my party. Soon after Dr. Webb came in, and
reported that the axle-tree had given out, and the
wagon could proceed no further; so that it was necessary
to send pack-mules to bring in its contents, and
also provisions for the men. I now took possession of
my tent with its appurtenances, and sat down to an
excellent supper, prepared in anticipation of my coming.
It was pleasing to find myself once more in a
tent for the first time since I was taken ill at Ures. It
was invariably the case, that we all enjoyed better
health when in camp and on our march, than when
shut up in quarters with little or nothing to do. An


active, moving life in the open air always brings with
it a good appetite and sound sleep, and is the surest
antidote to, or rather preventive of, disease. Distance
travelled to-day, twenty-two miles.

I found my party encamped a mile beyond the
Indian village of Santa Isabel, in one of the most lovely
groves of large branching oaks that it had ever been
our fortune to meet with. It is closely hemmed in on
three sides by high hills, all of which are thickly
wooded, while a clear mountain stream passes directly
through it. Grass in abundance grew all around
us, on which our mules were luxuriating. The tents
were all pitched beneath trees, and but a few feet
from the stream to which I have alluded.

Soon after I arrived, Colonel Craig, commander
of the escort, called and reported his men ready for
our march. He had been furnished by Colonel Magruder
with six additional soldiers, who were to accompany
us to Fort Yuma. Lieutenant Whipple was
occupied during the evening in taking astronomical
observations, as the weather was now clear and pleasant,
a very perceptible change having taken place
since we left the coast.

Soon after the train had left its camp near the Mission
of San Diego, it was reported to me by Mr. Thurber
(who acted as Quarter-Master in addition to his
other duties), that another wagon would be absolutely
necessary. I accordingly directed that he should send
Mr. Leroux at once to the Mormon settlement at San
Bernardino, about a hundred miles distant, to purchase
a wagon from some of the recently arrived emigrants,
and should await his return at Santa Isabel. Mr. Leroux,


who but a short time previous had been to that place,
and knew many of the Mormons, set off on his errand.

May 30th.

Remained in camp. Got my wagon in,
and made a new wooden axle-tree. Found the iron
portion much bent and very weak. Lashed the two
strongly together with rawhide.

Santa Isabel is an Indian village, and was once a
place of some note, when the missionary establishments
were in the ascendancy. A roofless church and a few
miserable huts, are now all that remain. Nevertheless,
the inhabitants cultivate the soil, and by means of irrigation,
which they well understand, raise wheat, maize,
pumpkins, and beans. The vine succeeds very well
here, and was formerly cultivated to a considerable extent.
The land near is very fertile, which had induced
some Americans to select it for their homes. The long
neglected fields were being turned up, which gave
the valley a pleasant appearance. Several of the Indians,
who belong to the Diegeno tribe, visited our
camp to-day. They were dressed in their holiday
clothes, such as red and white shirts; while the chief
Tomaso, who seemed an intelligent man, wore an old
coat trimmed with silver lace, which had once belonged
to some Mexican officer.

May 31st.

Remained in camp. In the afternoon
Mr. Leroux returned, accompanied by a wagon, which
was driven by its owner, a Mormon, named Smithson.
After paying him, I invited him to remain with us over
night, as he had had a fatiguing day's journey. We
were much amused during the evening in listening to
the history of our Mormon friend, who also enlightened
us with a lecture on the peculiar doctrines of his sect.


He seemed a harmless, though zealous man, ardent in
his religious belief, and was I should think, a fair specimen
of his fraternity. His people had lately purchased
the extensive haciendas and buildings at San
Bernardino, covering several miles square, for seventy
thousand dollars, one half of which amount they had
paid in cash. This is one of the richest agricultural
districts in the State, and is said to have been a great

June 1st.

In consequence of the heat, I deferred
leaving until 6 o'clock in the evening. As the party
was now got together, I give the names of those composing

  • JOHN R. BARTLETT, Commissioner.
  • THOMAS H. WEBB, M. D. Secretary and Surgeon.
  • GEORGE THURBER Quarter-Master, Commissary,
    and Botanist.
  • HENRY C. PRATT, Draughtsman and Artist.
  • MALCOLM SEATON, Assistant Surveyor.
  • ANTOINE LEROUX, In charge of Pack-mules;

with servants, cooks, arieros, and teamsters. We had
but two wagons, the remainder of our camp-equipage
and provisions being transported by pack-mules. Dr.
Webb and myself, rode in a small wagon, which I
bought in San Francisco, and which turned out to be a
very poor affair, made to sell, and not for such a journey
as lay before us. We also had riding animals for a
change, and in case of accident to the wagon.

The party to complete the survey of the Gila, was
as follows:

  • LIEUT. A. W. WHIPPLE, Corps Topographical Engineers,
    Astronomer in command


  • HUGH CAMPBELL, 1st Assistant.
  • FRANK WHEATON, Topographer and Assistant.
  • HENRY C. FORCE, Assistant.
  • JOHN J. PRATT, Do.
  • JOHN O'DONOGHUE, Computer.
  • CHARLES A. GICQUEL, Instrument carrier;

with flag-bearers, attendants on instruments, laborers,
servants, cooks, arrieros
, and teamsters, making altogether
about twenty-five men. This party had both
wagons and pack-mules as well as myself; and all, both
officers and attendants, were mounted on mules or

LIEUT. COLONEL L. S. CRAIG commanded the escort,
now reduced by desertion to five men of his own command,
with a detail of ten men from that of Colonel
Magruder, at San Diego.

The entire party embraced six wagons, twenty-five
pack-mules, and about fifty officers and men, mounted.

June 1st.

The day being very hot, we did not
strike our tents and leave camp until 6 o'clock, P. M.,
when Colonel Craig and myself led the way. The road
was very good along the valley where it was level; but
there were many deep gullies, which required the use
of ropes to keep the wagons in an erect position. Our
course had been north-east. The scene changed as we
passed around the spur of the ridge which bounded the
eastern part of the valley. Here a broad plain opened
to us, with but few trees, although well covered with
grass. Our course now lay south-east. The moon
rose remarkably bright; and, with a cool and comfortable
night, we jogged steadily along and made good
progress. Towards midnight we entered a thick grove


of oaks, which so closely lined the road, that it was
with some difficulty that we found our way through
them. It was a beautiful spot for an encampment, and
we felt quite disposed to stop; but we knew of no
water near. The grass, too, was quite sparse. We therefore
pushed on to the Indian village of San Felipe, near
which we encamped at 2 o'clock in the morning. I
immediately threw myself down and enjoyed a delightful
sleep, such as none can appreciate but those who
have tried a camp life. Distance travelled, twenty-eight

June 2d.

Found ourselves in a valley without
woods, in the lower part of which was a marshy spot
with pools of water. Early in the morning our tents
were thronged with Indians, who appeared to belong
to the Diegeno tribe. They were a filthy looking set,
half clad and apparently half starved. During the day,
we saw many men and women wading about the marsh
gathering roots and seeds; of which two articles and
acorns, their principal food consists. The women
seemed to be the chief laborers, the men lounging
about the camp most of the day. The improvidence
of this people seems almost incomprehensible. A very
little exertion would have repaid them with all the
wheat, maize, and vegetables, required for their subsistence.
To these they might add a few cattle,
which, in this country, may be obtained for a mere
trifle from the ranchos, whose increase in this fine valley
would give them a plentiful supply of meat. As it
is, they have neither corn nor meat, and spend ten times
as much labor in collecting the roots, seeds, and other
wretched food they live on, as would be necessary by


cultivating the soil to produce bread, fruits, and meats
in abundance.

Their village consists of twenty-three miserable old
huts or wigwams built of straw and rushes. Some were
covered with raw hides of various colors. A few small
patches of ground were cultivated, not exceeding altogether
a couple of acres. This was not for the want
of land, as there are many hundred acres of good land
around them, which by irrigation could be made very
fertile. From appearances near the village, I was led
to believe that there had long been a settlement here,
there being not only traces of former buildings in every
direction, but also of acequias or trenches for irrigating
the lands.

At 4 P. M. struck our tents. The road continued
good for six or seven miles, its course still south-east.
The grass had now disappeared, and the thorny chapporal
which had taken its place was the first indication
that we were passing into a desert region. We
now entered a cañon, or mountain pass, caused, like
most others, by the action of running water for ages.
This pass had been used only for mules, until Colonel
Cooke entered the country with wagons. Not being
able to get through, he was obliged to come to a
halt, and open a passage with axes and hammers
through the solid rock, a work of great labor. This
defile consists of perpendicular walls of rock about
fifteen feet high, and of a width barely sufficient for
wagons to pass. In its bed are large masses of rock
reaching to the axle-trees. At the narrowest point
one of our wagons stuck fast; but after taking out the
mules, by dint of lifting and prying, we at length


got through. The space here was but two inches
wider than the axle-trees of the wagons. There were,
also, several steep and rocky descents where the wheels
had to be locked, and the wagons held back with ropes.
This pass was not less than three miles in length; and
should two trains meet here, it would prove a serious
business for both.

The descent into the valley beyond, continued
gradual for several miles; but at length our course was
stopped by a bold rocky hill running directly across it.
This we ascended, over a very bad road; but bad as it
was, it was better than the descent, which was the most
perfect break-neck place that a wagon ever attempted
to pass. It was exceedingly steep, filled with large
loose rocks, with an occasional perpendicular leap of
three or four feet. I feared that our wagons would
not hold together, even if they escaped being upset.
But the only accident that happened, was the breaking
of our two remaining barometers, a very serious one
for the meteorological observations.

At the bottom of this hill, we continued for five or
six miles through a valley, with no other vegetation
than the usual desert plants and cacti, accompanied by
the great agave which seemed to luxuriate in this barrenness.
At 11 o'clock, P. M., we reached Vallecita,
eighteen miles from San Felipe, where we pitched our
tents among some willows.

June 3d.

Vallecita, as its name indicates, is a little
valley, surrounded by lofty and barren mountains.
Pools of sulphurous water are found among the willow
bushes, but not a tree was to be seen. The grass, too,
had changed, having here a wiry character. A depot of


provisions is kept at this place, with a file of soldiers,
for the supply of Fort Yuma, and of government trains
passing and repassing. A few horses are also kept
here, to facilitate the communication between Fort
Yuma and San Diego. The distance between those
places is about two hundred and twenty-five miles,
and Vallecita is about half way. Beyond it, towards
the Colorado, there is little or no grass; so that trains,
after they have crossed the desert, usually stop a day
or two here, to recruit their animals.

A band of Diegeno Indians live here, to whom the
arrival of a train is an event of some importance. They
made their appearance early this morning, dressed in
their holiday clothes, and appeared more cleanly than
any Indians we had seen. Nearly all wore clean white
or fancy calico shirts, their only garment; pantaloons
being regarded by all Indians as useless articles of
dress. These people were formerly connected with
the Missions, and hence call themselves Christians;
but they now live in a most degraded state of indolence
and poverty. They cultivate beans and pumpkins,
and pick up an occasional mule, which serves them
for food; though their main reliance is upon the acorns,
which they collect and store up in large baskets for
winter use. The labor of preparing them for food is,
like almost all other labor, performed by the women,
who were to be seen in front of every hut wielding
their heavy stone pestles. When the acorns are reduced
to flour, it is washed to remove the bitter taste,
and then cooked into a kind of gruel, or made into
bread. These Indians were very attentive to us, bringing
us wood (which is very scarce here) and water,


and otherwise assisting about the camp. They seemed
amply repaid with a few old clothes, or any fragments
of food that remained from our tables. Our culinary
department was always the great point of attraction
to these poor creatures, who would often form a double
circle around the camp-fires, much to the annoyance
of the cook. The weather was excessively hot to-day,
the mercury standing at 105° Fahrenheit in the shade
under the bushes.

Took our departure, at 6 P. M. Each mile we
advanced, grew more barren. The road continued
through deep sand or loose gravel, reminding us that
we had fairly entered upon the desert of which we had
heard so much. On leaving this valley, all traces of
grass disappear. A few stunted shrubs armed with
thorns, strove hard for an existence; and the wonder
is, that any vegetable life can flourish amid such barrenness.
But the cacti and agave seem to delight in
such arid and desert regions, as though the intense
heat and dry atmosphere were the vivifying influences
that nourish them. The bleached bones and dried
carcasses of oxen, mules, and sheep, began to mark our
road, mementos of the sufferings of former parties. The
moon still shone bright, while we journeyed slowly
on through the heavy sand for twenty miles, till, at one
o'clock in the morning, we arrived at Carrizo Creek.
I had got considerably in advance of the wagons, and
without waiting for them or my tent, stretched myself
on the bare earth (for it was so warm that a covering
was unnecessary), and was soon lost in sleep.

June 4th.

Carrizo Creek* is one of those remarkable


streams which sometimes spring up in desert
regions. It rises in the very centre of barrenness,
flows for about a mile, and is again absorbed by the
desert. It has worn for itself a bed about fifteen feet
below the plain. It is from three to nine inches in
depth, and varies from six feet to as many yards in
width. Where the banks have been washed away, it
receives, in several places, accessions from springs; but
when these cease, the stream grows less and less, until
it is all absorbed by the sands. In the ravine or bed
formed by this water, mezquit bushes grow to the
height of ten or twelve feet, the deep green of their
foliage presenting a pleasing contrast with the desolation
around, and marking the course of the stream from
its beginning to its end. The grass, which grows
in a few patches, in little nooks which receive their
moisture from the creek, is very coarse and wiry; and
of this there is not enough to supply the few passing
trains that come this way. The heat here to-day was
insupportable, the mercury ranging at 114° in the shade.
The rays of the sun beat through our tents, so that we
could not remain in them. Some retreated beneath the
wagons; while myself and others found our way into
little gullies or ravines beneath the clay banks, where,
partly sheltered by the banks and partly by bushes, we
passed the day.

We had much trouble here with our mules, who did
not like the coarse grass before them; so that while
the herders thought that they were quietly trying to
pick up a living on the margin of the stream, they were
off at full speed for Vallecita, where they had a recollection
of better fare. Some were arrested in their


flight within a few miles of camp, while others were not
overtaken until they had reached the grassy patches
they were in search of. This is a common habit with
mules, and often impedes the progress of a train. I
have known them, where the grass was poor, to retrace
their steps twenty-five miles for the sake of finding
better. Experience showed us that in such places as
this the animals must be closely watched, and at night
tied up to the wagons.

We noticed a peculiarity in the water here, which
was that, although sweet, it did not quench the thirst.
We all drank incessantly without being satisfied.

As we entered the great desert here, and expected
to find no water, except by digging, until we reached
the Colorado, one hundred miles distant, we filled all
our kegs, canteens, empty bottles, and every thing else
that would hold water. I then directed the wagons to
be loaded, the mules packed, and the train to move at

I have forgotten to mention that we saw along the
banks of Carrizo Creek, near our camp, an innumerable
quantity of the bones and dried carcasses of sheep,
a rare occurrence in a region infested by hungry
wolves; but numerous and hungry as the wolves are,
there is such a thing as satiating their appetites, and
of this we had an example before our eyes. Here were
the bodies of many thousands of sheep lying in piles
within the space of a hundred yards. This wholesale
mortality is said to have been caused by their eating of a
poisonous plant; but as we could find no specimens of
such a plant, we believed that the poor creatures, after
traversing the desert and being probably three or four


days without water, had drunk themselves to death.
Most of the bodies were in the immediate vicinity of
the stream.

It was not until half-past seven o'clock, P. M., that
we moved from camp. The road continued heavy
through loose sand and stones, making it impossible
to move more than two miles an hour. Six or seven
miles brought us to a steep sand hill, which no team
alone could ascend. Ten mules were accordingly
hitched to each wagon, when by dint of tugging, and
a good deal of beating and hard swearing, the poor
animals reached the summit with their loads. One of
Colonel Craig's wagons was upset and rolled over and
over to the bottom of the hill, but fortunately escaped
with no other damage than that of smashing the medicine
chest; which, however, was a loss we afterwards
severely felt.

This was the most desolate spot we had seen, presenting
indeed the very climax of barrenness. We
were surrounded in all directions by hills of clay, their
sides cut into deep ravines. As far as the eye could
reach by the light of the moon, which rose at ten
o'clock, not a sign of vegetation appeared. I believe
there had not been a day, from the time of our landing
on the coast of Texas till we trod the shores of the
broad Pacific, that we had not seen the mezquit in some
form, or the common prickly pear. Here they could
not exist.

June 5th.

Reached the water-holes called Sackett's
Wells, twenty-four miles from Carrizo, at 3 o'clock this
morning. Before leaving camp last night, I sent four
men with spades in advance, in order that they might


sink some holes, and have a small supply of water for
us on our arrival; but as they were ignorant of the
place and were unfamiliar with the best indications of
water, they had accomplished little. Some more experienced
hands now set themselves busily at work in an
arroyo, or place where there was a slight depression in
the desert, marked by some mezquit bushes, whose
freshness showed that water sometimes reached their
roots. After digging about six feet, the water began
slowly to enter; and by dipping it up with a basin, we
managed to supply our animals.

The desert where we were now encamped, is an
open and remarkably level plain, with scarcely an
undulation. On the south-west, twenty miles distant,
is a range of lofty mountains, which forms its limit in
that direction. On the north and east, it is bounded
by the horizon, no mountains or hills being visible.
The soil is either a fine gravel, or loose sand. The
vegetation is exceedingly sparse, consisting chiefly of
stunted mezquit and the larrea Mexicana. Near the
arroyo, where water sometimes finds its way, a few
mezquit bushes have attained the height of ten feet,
whose brilliant hue is most agreeable to the eye, amid
so much barrenness. A little grass was found in clumps
about a mile from our camp in an arroyo, whither our
animals were sent. This, with the young shoots of
the mezquit, was all they had. At sunrise this morning,
the mercury stood at 92°, and at noon 108° in
the shade. Distance from Carrizo Greek, twenty-five

Lieutenant Sweeny arrived this morning from Fort
Yuma in pursuit of two deserters from that post, and


remained with us during the day, believing himself to
be in advance of them, and that they would stop here
for water. In the afternoon Mr. Jenkins reached us
from San Diego. He was the bearer of dispatches to
me from the government, having left El Paso del Norte
on the 19th February. He came by way of Chihuahua
and Mazatlan; and had encountered serious obstacles
on his route. As there was no party coming
across the country by the Gila route, he was obliged to
pass through Mexico, which had taken him nearly four

As it was too hot to march at all during the day,
we continued as before, to make our journeys at night.
At 7 P. M. left camp, taking the lead as before in my
little wagon, with Colonel Craig riding on a mule at my
side, while the wagons and train followed closely behind.
The road for the first few miles was heavy;
after which, we struck the hard gravel, where it was
so smooth that we increased our pace. After keeping
with me for an hour and a half, the Colonel left me,
saying he would ride back and see to the wagons, as
some of them were dropping behind. This course was
usual with him. He felt a heavy responsibility upon
his shoulders, and deemed it his duty to watch every
part of the train. He considered his post to be in the
advance; but during every march, whether at night
or by day, he rode around the train, to see that all was
right, and that his men observed proper vigilance. At
11 o'clock the moon rose, when we could see our way
better. The pack-mules, which had been in the rear,
soon after came up, and, as was usual with them, pushed
by me. On long marches, pack-mules always increase


their speed as they progress, when it becomes difficult
to restrain them to the gait of those in wagons. The
road continued very good during the night; so that,
with the bright light of the moon and the air moderately
cool, we made good progress. As morning approached,
the road became heavier; when my mules fell back, the
pack-mules still keeping on at their former pace. We
had now to get out and walk; and this relief to the
poor animals enabled us at length to reach the stopping
place known as the Alamo Mucho, where water is obtained
by digging.

Although there may have been cotton-wood trees
here in former times, all have now disappeared; for we
saw nothing but stumps and a few miserable mezquit


The Desert—Dry basin—"New River"—Alarming news from the train—
Colonel Craig's encounter with the deserters from Fort Yuma—Report
of Sergeant Quin—Dr. Webb returns in search of Colonel Craig
and Sergeant Bale—Loss of wagons on the Desert—Great heat—Return
of party with the body of Colonel Craig—Sergeant Bale's return—
Further particulars of the encounter with the deserters—Burial of Colonel
Craig—Word sent to San Diego—Prompt action of Colonel Magruder—Arrest
of the murderers by Indians, and their execution—Colonel
Craig's character and services—March resumed—Cooke's Well—Colorado
River—Banks washed away—A passage cut through the woods—
Arrival at Fort Yuma—Depredations by the Yuma Indians on the
camp at night—Unsuccessful pursuit—Lieut. Whipple commences
crossing the Colorado.

June 6th.

Reached Alamo Mucho on the desert, at
7 o'clock this morning, after a journey of twelve
hours without a moment's rest, in which time we
had made forty-five miles. In long marches like
this with pack-mules, it is not considered advisable to
stop; for no rest can be given to the animals without
relieving them of their packs, to do which and replace
them would require at least two hours. If a pack-train
stops without relieving the mules of their burdens,
the animals lie down and attempt to roll, an
operation which disarranges the packs and often does


much injury. When there is grass and water, it is
well, on long marches by daylight, to rest an hour or
two during the heat of the day. Feed and water at
such times, with rest from their loads, affords much
relief; but when there is nothing to offer the weary
animals, it is decidedly the best course to hasten on
and complete the journey, unless it is too long to be
accomplished in a day.

The desert here is a vast open plain, extending as

[Figure] Well at Alamo Mucho.

far as the eye can reach on every side, except on the
south-west, where a chain of mountains appears some


thirty or forty miles distant. The undulations are few
and slight. Near our camp was a steep bank about
sixty feet high, extending for miles, and descending to
a great depression or basin, which appears to have
been the bed of a lake. It was in this bed that the
wells or pits were sunk from which we obtained water.

About twenty-five miles back from this place we
crossed a ravine or arroyo some twenty or thirty feet
wide, and about ten feet below the surface of the
desert, that forms the bed of what is known as the
"New River." Three or four years ago, this ravine
was filled with water, as well as a large basin connected
with it. The water suddenly appeared here, and by
passing emigrants was hailed as a miracle and direct
interposition of Divine Providence, like the manna
furnished to the Israelites of old.

This phenomenon is now well known to proceed
from the Colorado River, which some years rises to a
great height, overflowing its banks and the adjacent
valley, and sometimes running back through lagoons
and depressions in the desert for many miles. It was
one of these great risings of the river that caused the
sudden appearance of the mysterious "New River"
of the desert, which remained two years, and then
dried up. By similar inundations the great basin at
Alamo Mucho has doubtless been, and may again be,
filled. I was told by persons in California who had
crossed this desert, that they had found pools of
brackish water several miles from the road. These I
presume to be deeper basins, where the water stands
longer than in the "New River" or the dry basins
passed by us.


On the table-land or plain of the desert the vegetation
is scanty, consisting of dwarfish mezquit and
larrea. In the basin near us were patches of grass,
which, with the young twigs of the mezquit bushes,
formed the food of our animals. In certain portions
of the desert it is extremely annoying to travellers
when the wind blows, as clouds of sand then fill the
atmosphere. When one of our parties crossed it in
January, they were overtaken by one of these storms,
from which they suffered greatly, particularly as their
animals had perished, and they were forced to traverse
it on foot.

Within two hours after my arrival, others of the
party who were mounted came in, and among them
Mr. Malcolm Seaton, who reported to me that about
break of day the train had fallen in with the two
deserters of whom Lieutenant Sweeney was in pursuit;
that Colonel Craig, having at once recognised them by
their dress and muskets, spoke to them, and asked
them where they were going. They replied, to Vallecito.
The Colonel told them he knew they were
deserters from Fort Yuma, and advised them to return
with him. After parleying a while, they told him they
would not return; that they were desperate, and
would shoot any one who attempted to arrest them.
Colonel Craig called for Sergeant Quin, of his command,
and Sergeant Bale, the non-commissioned officer
sent with the men furnished by Colonel Magruder.
Mr. Seaton then left, under the impression that Colonel
Craig would succeed in persuading the deserters
to return with him. Besides the soldiers with the
train, there were twenty or more men on whom the


Colonel could have called, had he deemed their aid
necessary. As the wagons began to lag, Mr. Seaton
hastened on to camp.

About an hour after, Sergeant Quin rode into
camp, his hat gone, and in a great state of excitement.
He stated, that soon after he and Sergeant
Bale had left the train, according to Colonel Craig's
orders, they came up with the two deserters; whereupon
the latter halted, and declared they would go
no further, but must settle the business on the spot.
Colonel Craig again expostulated with them, and
used every argument to induce them to surrender
themselves, and return with him to Fort Yuma,
but in vain. The Colonel told them who he was,
and said that, if a return to the Fort was so repugnant
to them, he would endeavor to have them
assigned to his command, in which event they
might accompany the Commission. He then dismounted
from his mule and handed his revolver to
Sergeant Bale, at the same time throwing off his
sabre. Thus disarmed, he approached the deserters,
showing that he intended no violent measures, and
believing that when he pictured to them the difficulties
before them in crossing the desert, they
would yet consent to abandon their desperate undertaking.

At this moment, the Colonel's mule, being without
his rider, moved off, and had got some fifteen or
twenty yards, when the Colonel directed Sergeant
Quin to stop him. He did so, and had thereby separated
himself from the Colonel and Sergeant Bale,
when he heard the report of muskets, and looking


round, saw Colonel Craig stagger and fall. The next
moment he saw Sergeant Bale rapidly discharging his
revolver at the deserters, his mule at the same time
prancing about; when presently both of them fell.
He immediately advanced in the direction of the Colonel;
but before he had got many steps, the deserters
rushed towards him, discharging a revolver which they
had taken from Bale. Believing that both the Colonel
and Sergeant Bale were killed or overpowered, and
seeing but little chance for himself against too armed
and desperate men, he put spurs too his horse, and
made his way as fast as possible to my camp.

As soon as the wagons came up, I ordered an
ambulance to be prepared to return with a party in
search of Colonel Craig and the missing sergeant,
who, I hoped, might yet be found alive. As the
mules had now come nearly fifty miles without rest,
food, or water, they could not be immediately sent
back. Six of the best, however, were at once selected,
and a good feed of oats given them. Bedding, clothing,
water, and provisions were put in the ambulance,
and the whole placed under the charge of Dr. Thomas
H. Webb. It was two o'clock in the afternoon before
the party could be got off, Lieutenant Whipple and
several others accompanying.

From the information given by the party with the
train, the encounter with the deserters took place full
thirty miles from our camp. To retrace their steps
this distance, with our weary animals, journeying beneath
an overpowering sun, would require the remainder
of the day, and a good portion of the night; yet I
deemed it my duty to remain here, though we were


in the heart of the desert, unprotected by a tree or
bush, and exposed to a more oppressive heat than we
had ever before experienced. As there was but little
grass to be found, I caused the last of our corn and
oats to be distributed to the animals, giving about two
quarts to each.

Disasters seldom come alone; and to add to the
misfortunes of the day, Jesus Ortiz, one of the teamsters,
came in and reported that the tire of one of the
wheels having come off, his wagon had broken down,
and in this disabled condition he had left it twelve
miles back. As his mules were perishing for water, he
had hastened on with them.

After the animals had been watered and had grazed
for an hour on the straggling tufts of grass and
mezquit bushes, I dispatched a party back with an
empty wagon, to bring forward the contents of the
broken one. They returned during the evening,
and reported that the fore wheel was completely
demolished and past repairing, and that the wagon
could not be used without another wheel. They also
reported that they had seen seven Indians, who kept
at a distance, but followed them for several miles.

In the afternoon, Mr. Johnson and an express rider
arrived from Fort Yuma, and remained several hours
to rest and water their animals. They were bound
for San Diego. On hearing of the disaster to our
wagon, they informed me, that about seven miles in
advance we should find a wagon in good order, which
had lately been abandoned, and with which we could
replace our disabled one. This was very welcome
news to me; for we were not in a condition to lose a


wagon at this stage of our journey. I therefore sent
out a party with mules in search, which soon after
returned, bringing with them a very good vehicle.
Disasters of this kind are of common occurrence on the
desert, where mules give out or perish. One of our
own wagons, in excellent order, was thus abandoned
by the party which crossed here in January, and was
soon after made a prize of. Two years previous to
our crossing the desert, when a large number of emigrants
went over it to California, I was told that more
than a hundred good wagons, with harness, pack-saddles,
and a vast quantity of camp equipage, were scattered
along the road. Many of these were subsequently
taken away by parties from the settlements,
who came out for them with fresh animals; while
others were broken up and used for fuel, or parts
taken to restore the injured ones.

Such was the eventful day of the 6th of June, with
the heat at 108° Fahrenheit. We pitched our tents,
and rolled up the sides to catch a little air; but it was
like the African sirocco, and seemed as though issuing
from a heated furnace. I found a little bower, about
three feet high, made of bushes, and covered with raw
hides, into which I crept, and passed the day. This
retreat had been constructed by Captain Davidson,
who the week before our arrival had been here from
Fort Yuma for the purpose of opening a well.

June 7th.

In camp at Alamo Mucho. Remained
as quiet as possible, moving only from my tent to my
little bower. The men were occupied in enlarging
the well, as it required much time to dip up the
water, which was done with a bucket. The supply


was barely sufficient for the demand, which, in consequence
of the great heat, was constant both for man
and animals. The thermometer stood at 106°.

At two o'clock in the afternoon, Dr. Webb and his
party returned, bringing with them the dead body of
Colonel Craig. They did not reach the scene of action
until nearly ten o'clock at night, owing to the heaviness
of the road, and the wearied condition of their
animals. They then had much difficulty in finding the
body, it being more than a mile from the spot to
which they had been directed by the sergeant. After
dividing, and searching in various directions, they
formed a line from the road, placing men at such distances
from each other that the intervening spaces
could be carefully observed. In this manner they at
length met with tracks, which finally led them to a
spot where the Colonel's loose riding coat was found.
Soon after they came to his hat, and finally to his corpse,
which was discovered extended on the ground, and
carefully covered with a blanket. "The scene," says
the Doctor, in his report to me, "was a sad and sickening
one, and produced a strong sensation upon all
present, and particularly on the Colonel's body servant.
It was evident from appearances that the Colonel
did not long survive the wound inflicted, or experience
much, if any, severe suffering.

"The ground around was as undisturbed as
though he had laid himself down to rest, and composedly
gone to sleep. Had he lingered long in the
exposed situation where he was, there being neither
tree nor shrub to afford shelter, his sufferings, as the
sun got high in the heavens, would have been extreme,


independent of what he might have undergone from
the wound.

"Not many feet distant," continues Dr. Webb,
"we saw the dead body of Sergeant Bale's horse,
which had been perforated by a musket ball. The
sergeant was nowhere to be found. I became satisfied
that he had left the ground, probably without being
mortally wounded. He had evidently, previous to his
departure, taken his own blanket from the saddle, and
with it covered the remains of the Colonel; for men
who would brutally murder a fellow being, it was not
for a moment to be presumed would have the slightest
regard for the appearance or protection of the mutilated
relics. The corpse I caused to be carefully rolled up
and placed in the ambulance; and at three o'clock in
the morning we mournfully commenced our return

"After proceeding about ten miles on our way
back, we noticed ahead of us a man reclining by the
road side; and on reaching him, much to my satisfaction,
he proved to be the missing sergeant.

"When he joined the Colonel, he was told the purpose
for which he was summoned; and upon some
inquiry being addressed to him, he stated that whilst
ready to obey orders, from his knowledge of the
desperate character of the deserters, he was confident
they would not be taken without bloodshed. However,
as already observed, the Colonel's feelings of
kindness outweighed all apprehensions of danger, if he
entertained any, and overbalanced all regard for self-protection.
Having completely disarmed himself, and
lessened his security still further by sending his


sergeant for the stray mule, one of the deserters
(Corporal Hays) said to the other, 'Now is our
chance, as there is only a man apiece;' whereupon
they levelled their muskets, took deliberate aim, and
fired. Hays, who shot the Colonel, was within five feet
of him.

"The buck-shot from Condon's musket passed
through the calf of Sergeant Bale's leg, the ball at the
same time pierced the body of the horse which he was
riding. He discharged two or three shots from the
Colonel's revolver; but the prancing of the animal
under the wound received, prevented true aim being
taken. The horse almost immediately fell; and before
the sergeant could disentangle himself from the trappings,
the deserters caught hold of him, and wrenched
away the revolver, but promised to inflict no additional
injury upon him if he would remain quiet,
which, under existing circumstances, he very properly
engaged to do. He asked them to allow him to go to
the Colonel; to which they did not object. They
inquired if the Colonel had not some brandy with him.
He replied; probably not, the Colonel not being a
drinking man. However, they went to the body ere
life had left it, and searched, and probably rifled, the
pockets, as some small articles known to belong to
the Colonel have not since been found.

"They then turned in pursuit of Sergeant Quin,
discharging several shots at him, their object probably
being to obtain the two mules. Quin, as already
remarked, effected his escape with his own animal;
but they secured the Colonel's. Both mounted it, and
made directly for the mountains."


For the finale of this melancholy affair I refer the
reader to the accompanying note.*


I was desirous to take the body of Colonel Craig
to Fort Yuma for burial with military honors; but Dr.
Webb pronounced this impracticable, owing to its rapid
decomposition, as it would require two, if not three,
days to reach that place. A deep grave was, therefore,
dug in the desert near our camp, and a few rods from
the margin of the great basin. At sunset, when the
mules had received their packs, the wagons had been
loaded, and the party were ready to move, a procession
was formed, and the mortal remains of our excellent
and much beloved friend, borne upon a cot by
four soldiers, were consigned to his lonely grave. I
read on the occasion the burial service of the Church
of England. There was neither mound, rock, nor tree
to mark the spot; a dreary solitude reigned around us,
uninterrupted by a single object, save the animals and
men belonging to the party. Even the wind had died
away; and in the silence that accompanied our sad and
solitary rites, Wolfe's beautiful lines on the burial of
Sir John Moore involuntarily suggested themselves to
every mind.

In order that the spot might be identified, a
wooden cross was erected at the head of the grave, on
which was inscribed:

Died June 6, 1852."


Colonel Craig was an officer of whom the army and
the nation had just cause to feel proud. He entered the
army from the love he felt for a soldier's life, and without
the advantages which a military education at West
Point is supposed to confer. Yet such was his devotion
to his profession, such the skill he acquired in it,
and such the bravery shown by him when called to
serve his country, that he soon attained the rank of
captain, and was breveted Lieutenant Colonel for gallant
service rendered at the battles of Cherubusco and
Molino Del Rey. His whole soul was absorbed in his
profession, and he spared no pains to render his command
skilful in the use of their arms. He was always
most punctilious in the discharge of duty; and however
much his command was reduced by sickness or
absence, he kept up his daily drills and parades with
as much rigor and discipline as though an entire regiment
were under his charge. Towards his men he
manifested the interest of a father as well as that of a
commander, and was greatly beloved by them in return.
During the stay of the Commission at San Diego,
when nearly all the officers attached to it took advantage
of the necessary detention to visit other parts of
California, he remained in camp with his men, nor did
he leave them for a single day, even when desertion
had reduced their number to five. It was a source of
deep mortification to him, that men who had followed
him through the severe campaigns of the Mexican war
should desert him here, for the sake of pecuniary advantage.
His genuine kindness of heart, honesty of
purpose, and rigid adherence to duty, had won for him


a large circle of devoted friends among civilians, as
well as among his brother officers.*

At 8 o'clock in the evening we left camp, our hearts
filled with sadness. Passed several wagons in good
condition which had been abandoned by their owners,
among them some large ones, which bore the letters
U. S., showing, as we were afterwards told was the
case, that they had belonged to government trains, the
mules of which had perished. The whitened bones of
animals marked the road in many places, terrors to passing
emigrants. At twelve o'clock the moon arose,
before which time we had much difficulty in finding
the road; for so little was the desert travelled, that it
was only by taking a star for our guide that we managed
to keep in the right direction. I rode a mule all
this night, and found it no easy matter to retain my seat
in the saddle. Such, in fact, was the case with many


of us; and some of the party were so much overcome
with drowsiness, that fastening their mules to bushes,
or to their legs, they lay down on the desert, and stole
a few minutes' sleep. The road continued very sandy,
and consequently very fatiguing to our jaded animals,
which had had but little food for the last four days. As
there was no necessity for keeping with the wagons, I
hastened on with the pack-mules and several men who
were mounted, and reached the next watering place,
known as Cooke's Well, at six o'clock in the morning,
having been ten hours in the saddle. The distance from
our last camp, was twenty-eight miles. After some time,
finding that neither the wagons nor my carretella (small
wagon) came in, I sent back some of the pack-mules
to their aid. But even with this assistance, they did
not come up until three or four hours after my arrival.

June 8th.

At Cooke's Well. On reaching here this
morning, we were so much fatigued that we did not
pitch our tents, but threw ourselves down on the bare
sand beneath some mezquit trees, and were soon lost in
sleep. The water obtained here was from a hole dug in
the earth some ten or twelve feet deep, in a place about
twenty feet lower than the general level of the desert.
It had to be dipped up in a bucket, and passed to a
second person midway towards the top, who emptied it
into a basin on the surface, from which the animals
drank. There was no grass here, but a thick growth of
mezquit trees about twelve feet high, with very wide
spreading branches. These were loaded with beans,
on which our half-famished mules fed freely, for it was
all we could give them. As these trees afforded a


good shade, we remained beneath them during the day,
which was as hot as before, the mercury ranging as
high as 106°. But even with this heat, we deemed it
a great luxury to be surrounded by such a delightful
grove, after the total barrenness and desolation with
which we had been surrounded for so many days. We
had now left the plateau of the desert, and were upon
the bottom-land with an alluvial soil. The party were
so much exhausted with the last night's march, and the
exciting events which preceded it, that I determined
to remain quiet during the day, and not leave until the
moon arose.

June 9th.

Left camp at half-past one in the morning,
when the moon afforded a feeble light, without
which it would have been impossible to find our way.
The whole party kept close together, with a sharp look
out; as we were now in the country of the Yuma Indians,
with whom the Americans are at war. We learned
too, from the express that passed us on the desert,
that bands of these Indians had been seen here two
days before. Our journey was through a bottom filled
with mezquit and cotton-woods; and from the great
quantity of fallen trees of a large growth, one is led to
believe that the whole bottom, from the point near
Cooke's Well, which is fifteen miles from the river,
must have been covered with water within a few years,
and for a considerable time too, to cause such a destruction
of timber.

For several miles after leaving the desert, and
between that and the bottom land, there ran along our
left a great sand-drift, or belt of moving sand, which
extends far to the northward, and seems to be gradually


encroaching upon the bottom. It is about forty feet
high, and in its progress swallows up the largest trees
of the valley. It is so loose as to be impassable for
animals, and very difficult for men.*

At 6 o'clock, our eyes were greeted with a sight
of the great Colorado River, twelve miles below its
junction with the Gila, at a place called "The Algodones,"
and soon after, we halted upon its bank It
was much swollen, and rushed by with great velocity,
washing away the banks and carrying with it numberless
snags and trees. The water, though sweet, was
much charged with mud, giving it a dark reddish
appearance, whence its name. We had seen no stream
since leaving the Mississippi (the rivers in Upper California
excepted) at all comparable, in point of size,
to the Colorado.

After watering the animals, I thought it best to
proceed a few miles further. Lieutenant Whipple, who
had been here before, and was familiar with the country,
said we should find a grove of mezquit trees, which
would furnish food for the animals; for the valley of
the Colorado affords no grass. Near this spot is a
rocky spur of the adjacent hills, called "Pilot Knob,"
extending to the river, where we found the remains
of a stone fort built a few years before, by a party
of Americans, who established a ferry here. On this
ridge was one of the iron monuments erected by the
Boundary Commission, the year before, which the


Yumas had already overthrown. The road ran along
the river's bank, which, as well as the bottom-land,
was filled with a dense forest of willows, cotton-woods,
and mezquit. But we had not proceeded far before our
progress was suddenly arrested at a place where the
road was entirely washed away. We now retraced
our steps a short distance, but found it impossible
to get along with the wagons without first cutting
a path. All our axes were therefore brought into
requisition; but as much time appeared to be necessary,
to accomplish this work, and as the pack-mules
could push through, Mr. Leroux led the way followed
by Dr. Webb and myself. On reaching the spot selected
by Mr. L. for the encampment, the mules were
unpacked: we endeavored to lead them to the water,
but found to our surprise that it could not be approached,
in consequence of a high abrupt bank caused by the
rushing waters of the Colorado. We accordingly saddled
up again and pushed on towards Fort Yuma, which
appeared a few miles in advance, the stars and stripes
waving from the flag-staff first greeting our eyes
through the dense foliage of the valley. When within
a mile of the Fort, our further progress was stopped by
a sluice which extended across the road, as broad as
the river, and caused by its overflow. It seemed to
run far into the interior, and to be passable only with
boats. Perceiving a rude wigwam on the river's bank,
the Doctor and myself took possession of it, and, hitching
our mules to trees, lay down to rest ourselves; for it
was then noon, and we had been in the saddle since
one o'clock in the morning.

An hour after I was aroused from my sleep by a


messenger from Major Heintzelman, commanding at
Fort Yuma (whose sentinels, ever on the watch, had
discovered our approach some hours before), inviting
me to the Fort, and sending a scow with men to take
us across the sluice. Dr. Webb and myself availed
ourselves of the invitation, the rest of the party with
the wagons not having yet come up. We proceeded
on foot, and, after crossing the sluice, were met by
several officers, who conducted us to the Major's quarters.
We received a warm reception from them all;
for visitors and countrymen are an exceeding rarity
in this out of the way spot. A few emigrants, it is
true, pass on their way to California; but they seldom
reach here before August. Major Heintzelman invited
me to take up my quarters with him, while Dr. Webb
remained with Lieutenant Paige. The other officers
we met here were Major Andrews, Captain Davidson,
Lieutenants Curtis, Hendershott, Swexeney, and Bond,
and Dr. Milhau.

The train and the remainder of the Commission
encamped on the opposite side of the sluice, my wish
being to cross the Colorado as soon as possible, which
could be done as easily from that place as from the

June 10th.

The officers of the Commission crossed
the sluice this morning and came up to the Fort, where
they were all kindly received and hospitably entertained.

I now commenced arrangements for crossing the
Colorado, which, in consequence of the great rise in
its waters, and their increased rapidity, was a matter
of much difficulty and risk. There was nothing to


cross in but a small and indifferent scow, which could
carry but one wagon at a time, and but a small number
of animals. The entire number to be ferried over were
one hundred and thirty-six mules and horses, twelve
oxen, and seven wagons with their contents. Anxious
that Lieutenant Whipple should not be detained a
moment with the survey of the river Gila, which was
to commence at its junction with the Colorado, and be
carried to the point where the work was suspended in
January, I directed his party to be moved over first,
and as soon as the scow, which needed some repairs,
could be made ready. The thermometer stood to-day
in the shade at the Fort, where there was a current of
air, at 105°; yet, as we were now quiet, it did not seem
more oppressive than when in New York at 90°.

June 11th.

The startling news was brought me
this morning, that the Yumas had entered our camp
the preceding night, and stolen fifteen of our animals,
including my valuable horse, the same that had been
ridden by Mr. Gray in his journey across. He was
the finest I had seen in the country, and had
been brought to New Mexico from Kentucky. But
this was trifling to the loss of so many riding and packmules,
as it was impossible to replace them here.
There had been two men on guard during the night;
but they knew nothing of our loss until the animals
were missing in the morning, when the footprints of the
Indians became visible. The animals, which had all
been staked, or tied to trees, seemed to have been
loosened and led away without the least noise by these
accomplished marauders. I gave orders to take the
trail and set off in pursuit, not with the expectation of


overtaking the Indians and recovering our property,
but with the hope that, in the hurry of escape, some of
the mules might have got away, which we might
recover. But the pursuit was not attended with success.
The parties returned after following the trail
six or eight miles, which was as far as they could go
with safety; as the enemy might be lying in ambush,
and overcome their pursuers when little expected.
Experience has shown the utter futility of pursuing
well mounted Indians on such an occasion, after
they have got three or four hours the start; for they
urge on their animals to the utmost speed. Mr. Leroux,
who is an old trapper, guide, and hunter, and whose
life for twenty-five years has been spent in New Mexico,
has been often engaged in fights with the Indians, as
well as in pursuing them to recover stolen animals.
He says the only way to overtake them in such cases
is, to take provisions for several days, and on first setting
out in pursuit, not to hurry the animals, but follow
the trail at a steady and moderate pace while daylight
lasts. At night stop and rest; and as soon as daylight
appears, continue the pursuit in the same manner,
taking care not to overwork the animals. By thus
continuing the chase, the third day will in most cases
bring you up with the enemy; whose proximity can
be ascertained by any experienced hunter, from the
freshness of the trail, the manure of the animals, etc.
It then becomes necessary to proceed with caution,
and with scouts ahead. When the Indians are discovered,
the pursuers keep at a distance concealed,
and govern themselves by circumstances, whether to
make an open attack, or wait until they have encamped


for the night and then surprise them. When Indians
find themselves pursued, they run for several days, and
then scatter, so that it is impossible to catch them;
but if they suppose they are not followed, they stop
at the end of one or two days.

Lieutenant Whipple commenced crossing with his
party this morning. It had been the practice to swim
animals across the river; but it was now so swollen
and rapid, as to preclude the possibility of so doing.
They had therefore to be ferried over in the scow, a
few at a time. The wagons were unloaded and taken
over empty. Even with the aid of all our men, the
progress in crossing was slow; and on several occasions
the scow, failing to reach the landing place on
the opposite bank, was swept away by the current
between two and three miles down stream, before a
landing could be effected. It had then to be towed
up again with much labor, until it reached some nook
or low spot in the bank where the animals could be
landed. In this manner several hours were sometimes
required for a single crossing.


Crossing of the Colorado continued—Description of Fort Yuma—The
Colorado and Gila Rivers—The adjacent country—Rich alluvial bottoms
—Facility of irrigation—Ruins of the old Spanish Missions—Difficulty of
supplying Fort Yuma—Plan for surveying the head waters of the Gulf
of California—Frustrated by Colonel Graham—Discovery of the Colorado
in 1540 by Alarchon—Later voyages—Difficulties in navigating
the Colorado—Attempt of a steamer to ascend the river—Its velocity
and height—Fort Defiance—Massacre of Dr. Langdon and his party by
the Yumas—Indians of the Colorado—Early tribes not identified—The
Yumas—Cocopas—Mohavis—Extent of Alarchon's voyage in 1542—
Fathers Kino, Font, and Garces.

June 12th.

At Fort Yuma. Lieutenant Whipple continued
crossing his party over the Colorado, and commenced
the survey at the mouth of the Gila.

An express was sent by Major Heintzelman to San
Diego with the particulars of Colonel Craig's death, in
order that additional efforts might be made to arrest
the murderers.

Colonel McCall, Inspector General U. S. Army,
arrived to-day, accompanied by Lieutenants Bond and
Gardiner, to inspect the troops at Fort Yuma.

June 13th.

In accordance with the orders of General
Hitchcock, Major Heintzelman detailed Lieutenant


G. W. Paige, with twenty-seven men as an escort, to
accompany the Commission to the Pimo Villages. They
commenced crossing the Colorado to-day; but, owing
to the swiftness of the current, were so unfortunate as
to swamp their boat, which was laden with provisions.
Excepting this accident, the parties of Lieutenants
Whipple and Paige got safely over, and encamped on
the margin of the river.

June 14th.

Sent the cattle over to-day, a more
troublesome task than was expected. As they refused
to lie down in the small scow, they were lassoed and
thrown, and then drawn into it by their feet with
mules. Once, just as the scow reached the opposite
bank, one of the cattle broke loose, leaped into the
river, and swam back; the current carrying him so far
down, that he escaped into the woods, and could not
again be found.

June 15th.

While the parties were still engaged
ingetting across the river, I took occasion to make
repairs on the wagons. My small wagon, in addition
to the axle-tree, had given out in other places. An
examination showed plainly that it was an article
"made to sell," and not to use. Every portion was
found defective, all flaws being carefully covered up
with paint. With no other conveyance than this for
our long journey, Dr. Webb and I had a poor prospect
ahead. The Doctor's riding mule was among the number
stolen. The wagon we had picked up on the
desert was found to be loose in many parts, requiring
repairs. In consequence of the loss in horses and
mules that we had sustained by the Yumas, we
were obliged to add some hundred pounds to each


of the wagons, and an additional weight to each pack-mule;
besides which I nearly filled one of the wagons
belonging to the escort. We should thus have to
resume our journey with every wagon and mule loaded
to the utmost, and without a single spare animal to
replace any that might be broken down or lost.

In repairing injuries to our wagons, every facility
had been furnished me by Major Heintzelman, and by
Major Andrews, United States Quarter-master at Fort
Yuma. For their aid also in crossing the river, and
for many acts of kindness extended by the officers here
to myself and the gentlemen associated with me in the
Commission, I take this occasion to express my acknowledgments.

My cook ran away last night; which event, though
it gave me the use of one more mule, deprived me of
a functionary whose services could not easily be dispensed

June 16th.

Fort Yuma stands upon a rocky hill at
the junction of the Gila and Colorado Rivers, and on
the north-west angle of the bank of the united stream.
The Colorado comes from the north, and, where it receives
the Gila, is about five hundred yards wide. A
bend, which the Gila takes about fifteen miles from
its mouth, makes it come from the south to join the
Colorado. The united stream first takes a westerly
course, forcing itself through a canon in a chain of
rocky hills seventy feet high, and about three hundred
and fifty yards in length. After sweeping around
some seven or eight miles, it again assumes a southerly
direction; and after a very tortuous course for about
a hundred and thirty miles, it empties into the Gulf of



California. The rocky hills extend four or five hundred
yards north of the junction, and between two
and three miles to the south of it. Beyond the latter
termination rises the great plateau, or desert. The
Colorado flows through a bottom or valley from two to
four miles in width, thickly covered with cotton-wood
and mezquit; beyond which is the desert, from sixty
to seventy feet above the valley. As far as I could
judge, from a bird's-eye view taken from Fort Yuma, I
should think the bottom-land of the Gila was from three
to four miles wide near the junction. The portion
towards the river is thickly covered with cotton-wood,
and with willows on the margin, while that further
back has nothing but mezquit. A fine panoramic
view is presented of the whole country, from the summit
of the hills on which the fort stands. Looking
northward, the course of the Colorado can be traced
for about fifteen miles, when it suddenly winds around
the base of a mountain ridge, and diverges to the
north-west. In this direction the view is most extensive.
Ridge after ridge of mountains is seen, one rising
above and beyond the other, for a distance of
about eighty miles. The higher chains assume the
most varied and fantastic shapes, resembling cupolas,
minarets, pyramids, domes, chimneys, etc. One of
these singular summits is called the "Chimney Rock;"
and from Fort Yuma is the most striking object in the
landscape. It is said to be fifteen miles distant in a
direct line, and about thirty following the course of
the Colorado.

On the east of the Colorado is the delta of the Gila.
How far this extends back cannot be seen, the trees


shutting off the view of the desert. On the north and
west the line of the desert is perceived at a distance
of about three miles, this line of view being interrupted
by the isolated mountain called "Pilot Knob."
At the south, short isolated ridges of mountains are
seen at a great distance. Mr. Pratt took a panoramic
view of the country here, which will convey a better
idea than any description I can give.

The Gila was not over fifty yards wide at its mouth;
but its width varies much in different seasons, being
influenced by the rise of the Colorado, as well as the
state of its own waters. The Colorado was now so high
as to cause the Gila to flow back full fifteen miles.
The Gila was still low, and, except near the junction,
but a diminutive stream. It is doubtful whether it
can ever be navigated, except at its floods, and these
are by no means regular. At such times flat-bottomed
boats might pass to the mouth of the Salinas, near
the Pimo villages.

The singular bend which the Colorado takes after
it receives the Gila, gives to the United States both its
banks for the distance of seven miles from the junction,
or to the point where it resumes its southerly course.
This arises from the stipulations of the fifth article of the
treaty with Mexico defining the boundary line, which
says, that "a straight line shall be drawn from the middle
of the Rio Gila, where it unites with the Colorado,
to a point on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, distant one
marine league due south of the southernmost point of
the port of San Diego." The land on the southern bank
of the Colorado which we thereby obtain is of little value
for agricultural purposes; but should a considerable


town be built where Fort Yuma now stands, which is
altogether probable if a railway should ever pass here,
it will be an advantage to the United States to possess
both the banks of this river for so long a distance.

The bottom-lands of the Colorado below the junction
bear the traces of former cultivation, acequias
being seen in many places. Whether this cultivation
was by the Spaniards while they had a mission here
towards the close of the last century, or whether by
the Indians at an earlier period, is not known. But
from the large trees, both erect and fallen, which now
cover the bottom, even where the ditches appear, the
cultivation, in my opinion, was anterior to the occupation
by the Spaniards. I have never seen bottom-lands
of this character which might be more easily irrigated.
The banks of both rivers are here low; and the descent
near Fort Yuma would permit the opening of a canal
a few miles above, which would irrigate the whole
valley. When a stream is far below the level of the
bottom-land, and its fall but slight, it is necessary to
make the canal so long that the expense will not warrant
the undertaking. The active and enterprising
commander here intends bringing these rich lands into
cultivation as soon as he has completed the quarters for
the men, upon which he is now engaged. Should he
do so, he will be able to furnish his command with
what they now most stand in need of—a good supply
of vegetables.

Close by Fort Yuma the traces of the old Spanish
Mission buildings may still be seen. These consist of
partly demolished stone walls of small buildings;
though a few years since the walls of a church were also


visible. At the time of our visit these had been
removed, and used for building the barracks. There
were two hundred soldiers, artillery and infantry,
here, under the command of Major Heintzelman. The
officers and men were living in tents, covered with
sheds made of branches to protect them from the sun.
The post was established the year previous, but, not
receiving the usual supply of provisions, had been
abandoned for several months. The command was as
comfortably situated as the nature of the place and its
inaccessibility would allow; but long deprivation of
fresh provisions and vegetables had engendered the
scurvy among the soldiers.

The fort had heretofore been supplied by land
from San Diego, at an enormous expense; but a partially
successful attempt had just been made to supply
the place by water. A vessel loaded with stores was
sent up the Gulf of California, and succeeded in getting
some distance up the river; but owing to the strong
current she could not reach the fort. Wagons and
scows were therefore sent down to bring up the provisions,
a labor attended with nearly as much risk
and expense as bringing them all the way by land
from the coast. It was in contemplation to procure a
small steamer for fetching the supplies from the head
of the gulf. Such a vessel could meet with little or
no difficulty in getting up, and could also be used to
advantage in exploring the Colorado above the fort.

In connection with the survey of the river Gila, it
was my earnest desire to explore and survey that portion
of the river Colorado which extends from the
point where it receives the Gila to the Gulf of California,


a distance now understood to be about one hundred
and thirty miles, by the sinuosities of the river.

With this view, I recommended to the Hon. Alex.
H. H. Stuart, Secretary of the Interior, that Lieutenant
I. G. Strain, of the Navy, an officer attached to the
Commission, should be directed to take the four iron
boats belonging to it, and survey the head waters of
the Gulf of California, and the river Colorado to the
mouth of the Gila. Lieutenant Strain accordingly
proceeded to Washington, and submitted to the Hon.
Secretary of the Interior the plan embraced in the
following letter:


In reference to the duty to which J. R. Bartlett, Esq., the
United States Boundary Commissioner, requested I should be assigned,
I have the honor herewith to submit two projects—one of which, I hope,
may merit your approval.

"In assigning me to the command of the flotilla, composed of four
boats belonging to the Boundary Commission, it was suggested that—
in consideration of the important results which must accrue to the country
from the early exploration and survey of the river Colorado below its
junction with the Gila, as well as that of the upper waters of the Gulf
of California, without which the former would be nearly valueless,—the
Navy Department might be induced to detail the requisite number of
seamen for the management of the boats; which would thus materially
lessen the outlay of the fund appropriated for the prosecution of the
Boundary Survey. No men could be obtained better adapted to this
duty than seamen.

"The importance of the examination proposed by Mr. Bartlett, is
obvious to every one acquainted with the present state of our new territories
on the Pacific, while the peculiar nature of the case does not
place the duties in any particular department of the government. The
examination of the upper part of the Gulf, and that portion of the Colorado
between its mouth and junction with the Gila, cannot be considered
as pertaining to the 'Coast Survey,' as it is entirely embraced in the


territory of the Mexican Republic; yet the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,
giving to our citizens free ingress to the valleys of the Gila and Colorado,
through the Gulf, which is the only route available for the purposes of
commerce, makes an early examination of equal importance to that of
any portion of the coast of our newly acquired territories.

"Could the sympathies of the Navy Department be enlisted in
favor of this examination, and crews assigned to the boats already built
for the use of the Boundary Commission, the service could be effectually
and economically performed.

"If, however, the government should not deem such measures desirable,
I would respectfully suggest another project, which, though it
would not possess all the advantages of that already suggested, would
prove the most economical mode of prosecuting the explorations and
surveys with the funds which are now, or may be placed hereafter, at
the disposal of the Interior Department and the Boundary Commissioner.

"The second project is as follows: That the four boats should be
dispatched, in charge of two passed midshipmen and five seamen, in a
steamer which will sail about the first of December to Mazatlan; and
that I should be authorized to proceed to El Paso, where the Commission
will be compelled to winter, and obtain from the party at that point
a sufficient number of men to man the boats, and proceed with them
overland to the port of Guaymas, on the Gulf of California, to which
points the boats will be conveyed from Mazatlan in a coasting vessel.

"From Guaymas we could easily ascend the Gulf in our boats to the
point where it would be desirable to commence our examinations.

"The advantage of this plan will be its economy; as it will require but
a few persons, who may be obtained from the navy, in addition to those
who are already drawing pay and subsistence from the government. At
present, the number of men forming the main body of the Commission is
greater than can be advantageously employed; while the scarcity of
provisions at El Paso, owing to the drought of last season, will make
their subsistence enormously expensive during the winter. The horses
and mules now belonging to the Commission, will have to be sold at El
Paso, or sustained at a heavy expense during the winter: and by employing
a portion of them to transport the party to Guaymas, no additional
expense will be entailed upon the Survey, as they and the men can
be more economically subsisted on the journey than at El Paso.


"The adoption of this plan would incur no additional outlay commensurate
with the object in view, which can never be attempted under
more favorable auspices. My opinion as to the superfluity of men now
with the Commissioner, you will find supported by letters now in your

"My views relative to the great expense of subsisting a large party of
men and animals at El Paso during the ensuing winter, will be corroborated
by Colonel J. Rogers, special Indian agent, who is familiar with
the present state of the country; while the opinions which I have expressed,
relative to the importance of the explorations proposed by Mr.
Bartlett, you can assure yourself of by reference to the accompanying
condensed narrative, which, you will observe, confirms the opinion published
by the Hon. T. Butler King as to the fertility of the valley of the
Colorado, and its future importance to our country.

"To display the feasibility of a journey from El Paso to Guaymas, I
have also inclosed a narrative of a journey through that region.

"Very respectfully your obedient servant,
"Lieut. U. S. Navy, attached to Boundary Survey. "HON. ALEX. H. H. STUART,
Secretary of the Interior."

The distinguished gentlemen then at the head of
the Interior Department, ever anxious to promote the
cause of science, and particularly where the acquisition
of knowledge of our newly acquired possessions was
concerned, thought favorably of my suggestion, and
the plan of Lieut. Strain, and, as I was informed, would
have permitted that officer to carry it into effect. Before,
however, he had an opportunity to do so, Brvt.
Lt. Col. Graham had been detailed as Principal Astronomer,
&c., to the Commission, and Mr. Stuart deemed it
proper to refer Lieutenant Strain's letter and papers
to him. The plan, strange as it may appear, was
objected to by Colonel Graham. In reply, he remarked


that it was "an injudicious arrangement, and ought
to be dispensed with;" that, although "by the late
treaty, our citizens have the right of ingress and egress
through the Gulf of California," we might "give offence"
to Mexico by the proceeding; and that the expenses
attending this Survey could not be legitimately
met from the appropriations granted by Congress for
the Survey." But the last and most extraordinary
assertion is, that such an examination as Lieutenant
Strain proposes, in connection with the Survey, should
not be intrusted to a naval officer. "I have been
frequently engaged on surveys for the last thirty
years," says Colonel Graham, "of rivers, harbors, and
portions of the sea-coast, and always found the best
persons to manage the boats employed on such service,
were the engineers and surveyors charged with, and
responsible for, the execution of the duty." Colonel
Graham's letter to Secretary Stuart, embracing his
objections, will be found in Appendix E.

As the defeat of my plan has been a serious injury
both to government and to commerce, I shall show that,
both by the treaty with Mexico and my instructions,
I had authority to make the examination referred to.

The sixth article of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
provides, that

"The vessels and citizens of the United States shall,
in all time, have a free and uninterrupted passage by
the Gulf of California, and by the river Colorado below
its confluence with the Gila, to and from their possessions
situated north of the boundary line defined in the
preceding [Vth] article; it being understood that this
passage is to be by navigating the Gulf of California


and the river Colorado, and not by land, without the
express consent of the Mexican government."

The United States government, knowing that opportunities
would be presented, in the course of the extensive
surveys intrusted to me, to acquire important
geographical knowledge relating to the immense
frontier along the line to be explored and surveyed,
fully authorized me to seek such facts. In his instructions
to me, the Hon. Secretary of the Interior says:
"As the organization of the Commission under your
charge has been made for the purpose of collecting
information relative to the country contiguous to the
boundary line, in addition to the running of that line,
it is desirable that you should avail yourself of every
opportunity afforded by your passage through the
unexplored regions of Texas, New Mexico, and California,
to acquire information as to its geography,
natural history, &c., when it can be obtained without
retarding the progress of the Survey."* My duties
required me to send boats to the mouth of the Gila to
survey that portion of the river, as well as to carry
provisions there for the surveying parties; and I should
have been guilty of neglect had I not endeavored to
take advantage of this opportunity to examine the
upper part of the gulf, and that portion of the Colorado
between its mouth and the junction with the
Gila. A minute survey of the entire gulf, about
which Colonel Graham has made calculations, was not
contemplated by either Lieutenant Strain or myself.

The great obstacle to the ascent of the Colorado is


the tidal wave at its mouth, which has been noticed
by all who have attempted to ascend it; and although
the United States has been in possession of California
six years, no official survey, exploration, or reconnoissance
has yet been made of the head of the gulf, or of
the river below the Gila. The want of this is my
apology for giving some notices of the entrance of
this river by its discoverer and subsequent explorers.*

As early as the year 1540, Fernando Alarchon, in
a voyage to explore the Gulf of California, by order of
Antonio de Mendoça, Viceroy of New Spain, discovered
the mouth of the Colorado. It appears that
"the pilots and the rest of the company" made serious
objections to entering the river, and proposed that the
fleet should return. "But," says the persevering navigator,
in his letter to Mendoça, "because your Lordship
commanded me, that I should bring you the
secret of the gulf, I resolved that, although I had
known I should have lost the ships, I would not have
ceased for any thing to have seen the head thereof:
and therefore I commanded Nicolas Zamorano, pilot
major, and Dominico del Castello, that each of them
should take a boat, and their lead in their hands, and
run in among these shoals, to see if they could find out


the channel whereby the ships might enter in; to
whom it seemed that the ships might sail up higher
(although with great travail and danger). And in this
sort I and he began to follow our way which they had
taken, and within a short while after we found ourselves
fast on the sands, with all our three ships, in
such sort that one could not help another; neither
could the boats succor us, because the current was so
great that it was impossible for one of us to come unto
another. Whereupon we were in such great jeopardy
that the deck of the Admiral was oftentimes under
water; and if a great surge of the sea had not come
and driven our ship right up, and gave her leave, as it
were, to breathe a while, we had there been drowned.
And likewise the other two ships found themselves in
very great hazard; yet because they were lesser, and
drew less water, their danger was not so great as ours.
Now, it pleased God, upon the return of the flood, that
the ships came on float [floated], and so we went
forward. And although the company would have
returned back, yet for all this I determined to go
forward, and to pursue our attempted voyage; and we
passed forward with much ado, turning our stems now
this way, now that way, to seek to find the channel.
And it pleased God that after this sort we came to the
very bottom of the bay; where we found a very
mighty river, which ran with so great a fury of stream
that we could hardly sail against it. In this sort I
determined, as well as I could, to go up this river. And
with two boats, leaving the third with the ships, and
twenty men, myself being in one of them, with Roderigo
Maldonado, treasurer of this fleet, and Gaspar de


Castilleia, comptroller, and with certain small pieces
of artillery, I began to sail up the river."*

We hear little more of attempts to enter the Colorado
until those of the missionaries about the middle
of the last century. In 1746, Father Consag made a
voyage for the purpose of exploring the Gulf of California.
He reached its head, and found the river. "At
the entrance," he says, "is a triangular island, which
divides the stream into two arms, one in California,
running northward, and the other on the opposite side,
running north-west. The people went ashore, and
found themselves between two rapid currents: one of
the rivers ebb, and in the other the sea was flowing in
with no less impetuosity, so that they had a very narrow
escape." He attempted to go up the Colorado; but
the current was so rapid that the boats could not stem
it, and having no ropes to tow them, the project of
further exploration was abandoned.

The only attempt in recent times to enter the Colorado
before the occupation of California by the United
States, of which I have knowledge, is that of Lieutenant
Hardy of the British navy. This gentleman was
sent out by an English company connected with the
pearl fishery in the gulf; and in the course of his
explorations he visited the Colorado. He has given
us a plan of the mouth of the river, accompanied by
soundings; which bears every mark of correctness,
with the exception of an error in laying down the
river Gila. For this he mistook a small branch falling


into the Colorado about ten miles up; or it may have
been a sluice filled with the rushing water from the
tides of the gulf. This latter I think the more probable
supposition. The Gila, as I have already mentioned,
is known to enter the Colorado at more than a hundred
miles from its mouth.

Lieutenant Hardy found two small islands at the
mouth of the river, and entered by the western channel;
where there was, at the narrowest point, but a single
fathom of water, the width varying from ninety
to two hundred yards. Owing to the narrowness
of the channel, he was obliged to stand in so close to
the shore that the jib-boom nearly touched it. The
western bank was here high and perpendicular. The
tide was running at the rate of nine miles an hour.
With all his care, the vessel was thrown on shore,
where she lay eight days. The flood and ebb tides
swept by with the same velocity; and on one occasion
the receding tide left his vessel one hundred and fifty
feet from the water. He waited in vain for slack
water, in order to replace the rudder, which had been
unshipped. "But in the Colorado," he says, "there is
no such thing as slack water. Before the ebb has
finished running the flood commences, boiling up full
eighteen inches above the surface, and roaring like the
rapids of Canada."

Since the foregoing was written, I have read an
account of the most recent attempt to ascend the Colorado,
which is given in the accompanying note.*


A few weeks before my arrival here, a fight took
place between eight soldiers and a body of Yuma
Indians, in which the former were all killed. The


Indians approached the soldiers, and drew their fire,
when a large number, who lay in ambush, rushed upon
them with the short clubs which form their principal
weapon, and put them all to death. Major Heintzelman
in turn sent several parties against them, and drove
them all from the banks of the Colorado for some
eighty miles above, destroying their corn fields and
their villages. They had been so cruel and treacherous
to the various parties of Americans passing
here, and had manifested so much hostility towards
the troops, that it was found useless to attempt to
conciliate them, or make any treaty with them,
unless they themselves were forced to come in and ask
it. They have often made treaties with the Mexicans,
only to break them when a favorable opportunity
offered to plunder and murder. When Lieutenant
Whipple was here, in 1849, with a party of engineers,
to determine the point of junction between the two
rivers, and establish the monuments on the boundary
line, he remained several months among them, on
terms of intimacy and friendship.*

One afternoon while here, Major Heintzelman and
myself made some experiments to ascertain the velocity
of the Colorado below the junction. The result gave
us 5¼ miles per hour. But it must be remembered


that the river was then much swollen. When low, it
flows at the rate of about two miles an hour. It is
then but four feet deep at the fording place at the
Algodones, where we first saw it; and at such times
wagons, mules, and cattle may easily cross. When
the engineering parties crossed here in January, they
swam their mules and were taken over in boats by
the Indians. By a stake planted below the junction,
Major Heintzelman ascertained the rise of the river to
have been thirteen feet and six inches, when at its
highest point, which it attained on the 13th of June,
while the Commission was here.

Four miles below Fort Yuma are the remains of a
fortification called Fort Defiance. This is the spot where
we first encamped, and were unable to reach the water.
It was an old ferrying place, and the scene of a massacre
by the Yumas the year before our visit, the particulars
of which I will state.

In 1849, when large numbers of people from the
United States and the adjacent province of Sonora were
emigrating to California, many came by the Gila and
crossed the Colorado here. At this time, as there was
no garrison on the spot, nor any white settlers, the
Yumas derived quite an advantage from aiding emigrants
to cross, having by some means obtained a boat
or scow for the purpose. A party of Americans, seeing
a prospect of a lucrative business by the establishment
of a ferry, dispossessed the Indians of their boat,
drove them from the river, and would not permit them
to help emigrants across or otherwise have any thing
to do with them. The leader in this affair was a Dr.
Langdon, of Louisiana. The ferry was established at


the rocky spur before alluded to; upon which, directly
on the bank of the river, they built a rude fort wherein
they could defend themselves. This, in contempt for
the natives whom they had dispossessed of their rights,
they called Fort Defiance.

The party which originally established the ferry
was fitted out by J. P. Brodie, Esq., a gentleman living
at Hermosillo, in Sonora, of whom I have before spoken:
he advanced the money for the purpose, and retained
an interest in it. While this gentleman had the direction
of affairs, no further offence was given to the Indians,
and emigrants were always treated well and fairly
dealt with. Not long after, however, a man named
Gallantin was employed by Dr. Langdon, or in some
other way became interested in the ferry. He turned
out to be a bad fellow, and was supposed to be a fugitive
from justice. He treated the Indians most brutally,
and practised all sorts of impositions upon the passing
emigrants, charging about four dollars a head for every
one who crossed the river. He also extorted large
sums from the Sonorians when returning to their homes
from the mines, when he found or believed they had
any considerable, amount of gold with them.

When Dr. Langdon found out the character of Gallantin,
he endeavored to get rid of him, but found himself
unable to do so. About this time Gallantin took
occasion to visit San Diego; and there his party got
into a fight, in which a soldier was killed. Gallantin
was arrested and imprisoned, but made his escape back
to the Colorado with a supply of liquor. The men
having fallen asleep, either from the effects of liquor or
of fatigue, the Yumas, who had watched their opportunity,


rushed upon them with their clubs, and massa
cred every soul at the ferry, embracing some twelve
or fifteen persons. Three men were at some distance
in the wood cutting timber; these, seeing from the
actions of the Indians that something was wrong, succeeded
in concealing themselves, and made their escape
by joining a party of Mexicans who soon after came
along. A large sum of money, all that had been saved
by Langdon and Gallantin (estimated at from fifteen
to thirty thousand dollars), fell into the hands of the
Indians; and this was freely used by them in supplying
their wants from the emigrants who afterwards
passed. They knew little of the value of gold, and
would sometimes give four or five doubloons for an
old worn-out blanket, or a gold eagle for a tattered

No sympathy was felt for the men who had thus
lost their lives; but the event tended to encourage the
Yumas in acts of violence, in which many innocent and
unoffending parties perished. I heard of one occasion
on which a party of emigrants crossed while the
Yumas retained the ferry. The Indians showed friendship
for them, and assisted in making their fires and
in taking charge of their animals. The party cooked
their meal, and sat down quietly to eat; for although
numbers of the Yumas were about their fires and the
camp, their presence caused no uneasiness, as they
were unprovided with arms. But on a sudden, at a
given signal, they each seized a billet of wood from
the fire, and knocked out the brains of the Americans.

The ferry is at present well conducted, and though


the facilities for crossing are not as great as they might
be, they are perhaps as great as the expenses of carrying
it on will warrant. I paid one dollar for each man,
two dollars for each mule and ox, ten dollars for each
wagon, ten dollars for each wagon load, one dollar
for each mule load, &c. The total expense for crossing
the Commission and the escort, amounting to five
hundred and four dollars.*

Of the Indians who occupy the country near Fort
Yuma, the largest and most important tribe are the
Yumas. These people occupy both sides of the Colorado
both above and below the junction with the Gila.
But how far they extend to the north is not known;
probably not less than a hundred miles. Of the tribes
to the north of them, very little is known. There has


been no communication with them either by travellers
or by the government. The early missionaries who
traversed that region have placed on their maps several
tribes, whose very names have now disappeared.
On the old maps there are found west of the Colorado
the Genigueh, the Chemeguabas, the Jumbuicrariri, and
the Timbabachi, tribes of whose existence in our day
we know nothing. The missionaries who mention
them, are correct in all their statements, as far as we
are now able to judge, and it is therefore probable
that there were small tribes bearing the above names.
Father Kino, who was here in the year 1700, mentions
the Quiquimas, Coanpas, Bajiopas, and Cutganes, while
the distinguished philologist Hervas, in his "Catálogo
de las Lenguas," names many others, the authority for
which, is the early missionaries. At Fort Yuma, we
heard of a tribe called the Mohavi, who occupy the
country watered by a river of the same name, which
empties into the Colorado about one hundred and fifty
miles above the fort. They are said to be a fine
athletic people, exceedingly warlike, and superior to
the other tribes on the river. On the eastern side, the
same missionaries notice the Tehuas, Cosninas, and
Moquis. A tribe of the first-named family lived in New
Mexico. The Cosninas I presume to be the same as the
Coch-nich-nos, whom Mr. Leroux met in his late journey
down the Colorado, although, on account of
their hostility, he had no intercourse with them. The
Moquis are still known, being one of the semi-civilized
tribes with which we have had some intercourse. This
people cultivate the soil, raise numbers of sheep, live
in large villages, and manufacture a superior blanket


both of cotton and wool. The Yumas speak of the
Hawalcos and Yampaos tribes, on the eastern bank
of the river, who make blankets. The Mexicans also
speak of a tribe called the Tontos, or fools, on the eastern
bank of the river; who are said to be allied to the
Apaches. It is probable that, with the exception of
the great tribes, they are known among each other by
different names, which have some connection with the
mountains or rivers near which they dwell, or with
some peculiarity which distinguishes them from each
other. Thus the Yumas are also called Cuchans; and,
as I have before stated, the Diegenos, who derive their
name from San Diego, are the Comeya of early times.
It is also certain that many tribes which the missionaries
found in California and the northern parts of
Mexico, are now extinct.* On the Gila, no tribes have
any fixed habitation, nor are any lands irrigated and
cultivated, until the district occupied by the Coco-Maricopas
and Pimos is reached, two hundred miles to the
east. The Yumas occasionally range up and down the
Gila, but only on predatory excursions. They strictly
belong to the Colorado near the junction with the Gila,
where they were found by the earliest explorers.

Between the Gila and the Gulf, and near the latter,
there is also found a tribe called the Cocopas. They
occasionally visit Fort Yuma, and profess to be at peace
with the Americans. They are less numerous than the
Yumas, with whom they are at war. Recently a party
of the Yumas were surprised by them, their chief and


many others killed, and the party completely routed.
At the latest accounts the Yumas were preparing for
a campaign against them; and as their numbers are
much larger, it may result in the annihilation of the
Cocopas, who would not be the first tribe which the
warlike Yumas have extinguished.

When Lieutenant Whipple was at the junction of
the Colorado and Gila rivers, in 1849, engaged in
astronomical observations for the Boundary Commission,
he was constantly surrounded by the Yuma Indians,
and had therefore a good opportunity to
observe their habits. He has permitted me to copy
from his journal the following notices of them. When
he reached the Colorado, he was met by Santiago, one
of the chiefs, who conducted his party to their village,
where they were surrounded by great numbers of the
Indians. "The women are generally fat, and their
dress consists of a fringe made of strips of bark, bound
round the hips and hanging loosely to the middle of
the thighs. The men are large, muscular, and well
formed. Their countenances are pleasing, and seem
lighted by intelligence. Their warriors wear the white
breech; and their hair hanging in plaits to the middle
of their backs, is adorned with eagle's feathers, and the
rattle of a rattlesnake. They are exquisite horsemen,
and carry their bow and lance with inimitable grace."
While the party remained at the lower crossing waiting
for a road to be cut, the Indians were very sociable,
carrying them grass, beans, melons, and squashes; for
which, they received in return tobacco or money.
They professed great friendship for the Americans,
and declared that they "had never stolen from the


emigrants, nor maltreated them in any way; but the
Indians higher up, and near the mouth of the Gila, they
represented as being a desperate set of rascals." Lieut.
Whipple afterwards met the head chief, Pablo, who
wore a scarlet coat trimmed with gold lace, with epaulettes
of silver wire, and, to crown all, green goggles.
His legs and feet were bare, but he did not allow that
to detract from the dignity of his manner. At this
time the Yumas had extensive fields of maize, and
patches of melons and squashes.

When the party under Dr. Webb crossed the Colorado,
in January, the good feelings of these Indians
towards the Americans had changed. They had
already murdered the party of Dr. Langdon and Gallanton,
and had had difficulties with several parties of
emigrants. Dr. Webb and his companions, therefore,
held but little intercourse with them. The Indians
ferried them across the river, taking the opportunity to
drown a mule or two, which they afterwards secured
and ate. At the same time Mr. Pratt took some sketches
and portraits of them, and Dr. Webb obtained a complete
vocabulary of their language.

I have before stated that Fernando Alarchon discovered
and entered the Colorado in the year 1542.
The narrative of his remarkable voyage at this early
period shows that the zeal for adventure and discovery
was quite as great at that period as now. He states
that he went up the river eighty-five leagues, which is
quite probable; when his further progress was arrested
by lofty mountains, through which the river ran,
where it was impossible to draw their boats. This
was unquestionably the great cañon, where the mountains


cross the river, and through which it has worked
for itself a deep channel. This cañon is known to all
the trappers, and is said to extend from two to three
hundred miles, throughout which distance it is only
passable in two or three places. As he progressed,
Alarchon made diligent inquiries about the country
and people. In reply he was told that the river ran
much further up into the land than he had yet come;
but his informers did not know its head, as it was still
very far in the interior. He learned also that many
other streams fell into it. As far as he went, he found
the natives cultivating maize. They brought him cakes
of maize and loaves of mezquique.* Neither wheat nor
beans were known to them. To ascertain this fact,
our traveller took with him these articles, which he
showed the Indians, and at which "they expressed
much wonder." He found cotton growing, but nowhere
saw any fabrics made of it; whence he naturally was
led to believe that they knew not the art of spinning
and weaving. The natives told him that there were
twenty-three different languages spoken along the

It is a singular fact, that although Francisco de
Ulloa explored the Gulf of California in 1539, and
Alarchon in 1542, at which time the latter discovered
and passed up the Colorado, the fact that California had
been ascertained to be a peninsula came to be forgotten,
and it was regarded as an island until some time


between the years 1698 and 1701. This rediscovery was
made by Fathers Kino and Sedlemayer, two of the earliest
and most distinguished of the Jesuit missionaries,
who in consequence were able to open a communication
by land with the missions of Lower California, which had
already been established.* Kino, next to Alarchon,
followed up the Colorado beyond its confluence with
the Gila; and was the first to preach the Gospel
among the Indians, who were then very numerous in
this region. He made five separate journeys to the
Gila and Colorado Rivers between the years 1694 and
1706; and on one occasion intended to cross over to
Monterey, in Upper California, from which he was only
prevented by an accident. He established a mission
near the mouth of the Colorado and one at the mouth
of the Gila. The former did not last many years. The
latter was in existence as late as 1776, when Fathers
Pedro Font and Garces came with a large party from
Sonora to replenish the missions of California, but
chiefly that at Monterey. Fathers Garces and Eirarch
remained at the Colorado, and Font proceeded to
the coast. Garces afterwards made extensive journeys


up the Colorado, and established a mission among the
Moquis. He was soon after killed by the Indians, and
the Colorado Mission destroyed.

NOTE.—I have several times spoken of the state of the thermometer.
At all times it was placed beneath the shade of a tree, and hanging
against it. In no case was it hung in the tent, where the heat was
much greater. Our barometers had all been broken before reaching the
Colorado, except mine, an aneroid, which I gave to Lieutenant Whipple,
in order that his records might be kept complete. So with my thermometer.
It was lost, and I was afterwards obliged to refer to Lieutenant
Whipple's. Before leaving Fort Yuma, Dr. J. L. Milhau, surgeon
of the post, at my request, kindly furnished me with a copy of the meteorological
register kept at the Fort for the month previous to my departure,
from which I have made the annexed extract:

STATE OF THE THERMOMETER (Fahrenheit) at Fort Yuma, at the junction
of the Colorado and Gila Rivers, from May 20th to June 16th. Lat.

32°, 42′, 09″. Long. W. from Greenwich, 117°, 37′, 09″.

1852. Sun
A. M.
P. M.
1852. Sun
A. M.
P. M.
May 20 60 74 88 78 79 June 3 68 86 98 82 83
" 21 64 78 84 72 74 " 4 70 87 98 86 84
" 22 66 73 82 70 74 " 5 76 94 102 88 89
" 23 64 76 92 80 78 " 6 76 94 106 88 91
" 24 68 82 96 88 82 " 7 74 92 104 86 89
" 25 72 84 92 92 89 " 8 76 90 102 92 89
" 26 74 87 104 88 89 " 9 78 94 104 90 91
" 27 72 91 104 94 88 " 10 79 94 105 86 92
" 28 78 93 104 93 91 " 11 74 92 106 90 90
" 29 78 92 104 90 91 " 12 74 90 104 88 89
" 30 78 94 104 88 91 " 13 74 86 102 82 88
" 31 74 90 100 82 87 " 14 72 82 92 84 82
June 1 76 88 104 82 90 " 15 72 84 98 82 85
" 2 74 88 102 84 88 " 16 72 88 98 80 85

In this case the thermometer was suspended beneath a thick bower
of bushes, which effectually shut out the sun at all times, while there
was a free circulation of air around. The Fort stands on an isolated
rock about eighty feet above the plain.


Leave Fort Yuma—Absence of grass along the Gila—Petahaya or Giant
Cereus—Gila trout—Meet the surveying party—Inscribed rocks—Excessive
heat—Night marches—Wagons found—How caches are made—
Particulars of the murder of Mr. Oatman and his wife—Basin of the
Gila—More sculptured rocks—Cross the Jornada—Great bend of the
river—Another desert—Toilsome march—Reach the Coco-Maricopa

June 17th.

Major Heintzelman told me this morning
that, from the peculiar barking of the dogs during the
night, he believed the Indians had been near the fort.
Soon after one of the herdsmen came in, and reported
that he had discovered many Indian foot-prints around
the base of the hill. The ferrymen, who slept near,
were aroused at the same time, and saw from the hill
two fires in opposite directions, two or three miles
distant, near the banks of the Colorado. They were
doubtless intended for signals. A party of soldiers
was sent out to reconnoitre in the bottom around the
fort; and subsequently a detachment of fifteen, under
command of Lieutenant Hendershott, was dispatched
on a scout.

Our wagons now being completed and every thing
in readiness, we bade farewell to our excellent friends,


and at four o'clock, P. M., crossed the river to our camp
on the opposite shore, accompanied by Major Heintzelman.
The mercury at noon to-day stood at 100°

June 18th.

We took our departure at five o'clock
in the morning. As Lieutenant Whipple was actively
employed in completing the survey of the Gila, my
own party was reduced to Dr. Webb, Messrs. G. Thurber,
H. C. Pratt, and M. Seaton, which last was returning
to rejoin his party on the Rio Grande. We had
also, of course, the necessary attendants in servants,
cooks, arrieros, and herders; and were accompanied by
Lieutenant Paige, with fifteen soldiers. Lieutenant
Whipple retained the remaining men of Colonel Craig's
command, and twelve of those furnished by Major
Heintzelman. Our provisions, baggage, and camp
equipage were carried partly in wagons and partly on

We took the travelled road, which we followed for
two or three hours along the bottom-land on the
south bank of the Gila, and then turned off and followed
the trail of Lieutenant Whipple, which led to
the river. After pursuing this route a couple of miles,
we got entangled in so dense an undergrowth, interspersed
with little hillocks and dead trees, that our
progress was completely stopped. Fearing that our
wagons would be broken if we proceeded, we turned
back and attempted to regain the road; but in this
direction the same impediments presented themselves.
Being thus brought to a stand, I sent men out to find
the river, as we had already been so long tugging
through the bottom that our mules showed much


weariness. The Gila was discovered within half a
mile; and after doubling the teams to cross a bed of
loose sand, we succeeded in reaching it, and there we
encamped. No grass was found; but the mules ate
with avidity the cane which grew on the river's banks.
Distance travelled, fifteen miles.

June 19th.

Left camp at six o'clock; and after proceeding
through loose sand and arroyos, and cutting
our way through the jungle which grew near the
stream, we reached the road, and soon after a spur
of the mountain ridge around which the river ran. In
going down a short and steep hill, the king-bolt of one
of the wagons broke, in consequence of which we
were compelled to unload it, which detained us about
an hour. Continuing our journey, we struck the Gila
at one o'olock; where, to our agreeable surprise, we
found a small patch of coarse grass, the first we had
seen, excepting a tuft here and there on the desert,
since leaving San Felipe. For the fifteen days since
we left that place our animals had lived almost exclusively
upon the mezquit bean, and twigs of willow,
cotton-wood, and mezquit bushes. We encamped here,
having come twelve miles.

The bottom here does not exceed a quarter of a
mile in width, owing to the proximity of the mountains
on each side of the river. The vegetation consists
of willow and mezquit. We found that Lieutenant
Whipple had had a station near us, and had moved
forward but an hour before our arrival.

June 20th.

Resumed our journey at half-past five
in the morning, over a sandy road, and soon after left
the bottom and ascended to the table-land, here elevated


about forty feet above it. The vegetation consisted
of mezquit and palo verde.

After journeying about six miles, we overtook Lieutenant
Whipple with the surveying party, and agreed
to encamp together six miles further ahead. We proceeded
to the point fixed on, which we reached at 11
o'clock and pitched our tents, having made but twelve
miles. The bottom-land continued narrow, the desert
approaching quite near on both sides of the river.
There was no grass; but with cane and mezquit, our
mules did very well.

On the northern side of the river, arose a mountain
chain about twelve miles distant, presenting a continuation
of fantastic summits, among which were three
resembling the tops of Hindu pagodas. I took a sketch
of these singular mountains; although at such a distance,
but little more than the outlines could be discerned.

To-day, for the first time since leaving Fort Yuma,
we again encountered our friend the petahaya, or Giant
Cereus, which we had met with the preceding September
in Sonora; and much to our delight, we found it in
bloom. The fruit, too, appeared in various stages of
perfection. As no full and correct description has yet
been given to the world of this extraordinary production
of the vegetable kingdom, and as I had the advantage
of seeing it at different periods of the year, in flower
as well as in fruit, I shall endeavor to give a popular
account of it. The buds, flowers, fruit, seed, &c., were
collected by Mr. George Thurber, Botanist to the Commission;
and by him a scientific description of it will
be prepared, with the aid of a distinguished botanist

[Figure] PAGODA MOUNTAIN, NORTH SIDE OF THE GILA.—p. 188. vol. ii.


who has paid particular attention to the cactacea of
North America.

[Figure] Petahaya.

This curious plant is found on the high table-lands
on either side of the Gila, and in various parts of the
State of Sonora, growing often in the crevices of rocks,
and in other situations where it would seem difficult
for any vegetable production to find sustenance. The
forms it assumes are various; sometimes rising like a
simple fluted column, although more frequently it is
furnished with several branches, which, after leaving
the main trunk, turn gracefully upwards and rise parallel


with it. Sometimes the branches are singularly
contorted; but usually, their disposition is symmetrical,
and the appearance of the whole plant has been,
not inaptly, compared to that of a giant candelabrum.
The stem is from one foot to two feet six inches in
diameter, usually smaller near the base, and from twenty
to fifty feet in height. This immense column is
admirably strengthened by a circle of ribs of strong and
elastic wood, which are imbedded in the cellular mass
of the plant, several inches within the circumference,
and extend to the roots. This woody portion remains
after the fleshy substance of the plant decays, looking
like a huge skeleton. The stem is marked with longitudinal
furrows, which are shallow towards the ground,
and deeper and more numerous towards the summit;
and above the ribs it is thickly set with clusters of
spines or thorns. Of these there are six large and
numerous small ones, in each cluster. As the plant
increases in age, the larger spines fall off, leaving a ray
of smaller ones, which lie close to the stem.

Most travellers who have noticed this cereus, have
not been fortunate enough to see the fruit and flower,
but have derived their accounts of them from the Indians.
On our passage across the country in September,
October, November, and December, we saw the
tree; and on our return in June and July, we had the
satisfaction of beholding the fruit in perfection, and
occasional specimens of the flower. The plant probably
blooms late in May, or early in June; and the fruit
is matured in July and August. The flowers are borne
on the summits of the branches, are three inches in
diameter, and about the same in length. The petals


are stiff and curling, and of a cream-white color. The
stamens are yellow and very numerous. The fruit
is about the size and shape of an egg; sometimes
rather longer than the true egg shape, having a few
small scales, without spines. The color of the fruit is
green tinged with red, when fully ripe. It consists of
an outer coat or skin filled with a red pulp, inclosing
numerous small, black, smooth seeds. The fruit, when
mature, bursts at the top and exposes the pulp, which at
this time is rather mawkish to the taste; but a few
days' exposure to the sun dries it to about one third its
original bulk, and the whole mass drops out of the
skin. In this state it has the consistency of the pulp
of a dried fig; and the saccharine matter being concentrated
by drying, it somewhat resembles that fruit in
taste. The Pimo and other Indians, collect the pulp
and roll it into balls; in which state it probably keeps
the whole year, as it was offered to our party which
passed through in January. They also boil the pulp
in water, and evaporate it to the consistence of molasses;
after which, it is preserved in earthen jars.*


A number of the fish called by Major Emory the
"Gila trout" were caught near our camp by Mr.
Pratt with a hook and line. They proved very palatable,
where fresh fish is such a rarity; but the flesh is
quite soft, owing to the warmth of the water, and
would scarcely be tolerated on the tables of the Atlantic
coast. "At a little distance," says Major E., "you
will imagine the fish covered with delicate scales;
but, on a closer examination, you will find that they


are only the impression of scales." I cannot imagine
what led to this mistake on the part of the Major; for a
mistake it certainly is. Scales were as plainly seen on
all we caught as upon any fish; and I found no difficulty
in taking them off with my finger-nails from the
smallest specimens. We caught them at different
times from eight to eighteen inches in length.

After coming into camp to-day, I determined to
push on with my party to the villages of the Pimo


Indians. There seemed to be no necessity of keeping
with the engineers, whose progress was, and would
continue to be, slow; besides which their duties compelled
them to follow all the sinuosities of the river,
and keep by its bank. This not only increased the
distance, but obliged the parties sometimes to cut
passages through the bushes for the wagons and pack-mules,
a task attended with much labor, besides the
risk of breaking down. Our animals were daily growing
weaker for the want of grass; the weather was
excessively hot, the mercury ranging every day above
100° in the most shady places we could find; and
we were without vegetables of any sort,—a deprivation
which already began to show its effects upon
the men. For these reasons, I deemed it best for the
health of the party and the preservation of the animals
to proceed in advance to the Pimo villages, where
an abundance of grass and vegetables could be procured.
I accordingly made a division of our provisions
with Lieutenant Whipple and his party, and
left with him such an escort as he considered necessary
for his protection.

June 21st.

The road to-day was sandy, and consequently
heavy, until we reached the table-land. The
vegetation continued as before; mezquit, palo verde,
and larrea prevailing, and the great cereus occurring
with still greater frequency. At one o'clock we struck
the river where it passes within two hundred feet of a
bold dark-colored bluff, the termination of a short
mountain range, which here is about six hundred feet
high, and near which we encamped. Estimated distance
travelled, seventeen miles. As the weather continued


hot, we endeavored, by making very early
starts, to terminate our day's journeys by noon.

A number of fish were brought in to-day by the
Mexicans resembling the buffalo-fish of the Mississippi.
They drove them into a small nook in a laguna near
by, and then rushed into the water and killed them
with poles. I ate of them at dinner, but found them
soft and unpalatable.

Towards evening, when the sun began to lose its
force, I took my sketch-book and went to the base of
the bluff, where I had noticed as we passed a number
of inscribed rocks. I found hundreds of these boulders
covered with rude figures of men, animals, and other
objects of grotesque forms, all pecked in with a sharp
instrument. Many of them, however, were so much
defaced by long exposure to the weather, and by
subsequent markings, that it was impossible to make
them out. Among these rocks I found several which
contained sculptures on the lower side, in such a position
that it would be impossible to cut them where
they then lay. Some of them weighed many tons,
and would have required immense labor to place them
there, and that too without an apparent object. The
natural inference was, that they had fallen down from
the summit of the mountain after the sculptures were
made on them. A few only seemed recent; the
others bore the marks of great antiquity.

Like most of the rude Indian sculptures or markings
which I have seen, I do not think these possess
any historic value, as many suppose. Where an ingenious
Indian, for the want of other employment, cuts
a rude figure of a man or an animal on a rock in some


prominent place which his people make it a practice
to resort to, others, with the example before them,
endeavor to compete with their brother artist, and
show their skill by similar peckings. One draws an
animal such as he sees; another makes one according
to his own fancy; and a third amuses himself with
devising grotesque or unmeaning figures of other sorts.
Hence we find these sculptured rocks in large numbers
in prominent places. We all had the luxury of a
bath here; and though the water was quite warm, we
found it very refreshing. We made a practice of
bathing wherever we could find water, believing it a
better preservative of health than any thing else.

June 22d.

The heat had been so oppressive both
to the men and animals since leaving Fort Yuma, that
I determined to make our marches very early in the
morning, or at night. The cooks were accordingly
roused this morning at three o'clock, which enabled
us to get our breakfast and move off by half-past four.
The thermometer at sunrise stood at 69°, the lowest
we had seen it since leaving the coast; and after the
constant heats we had had, this temperature was uncomfortably

We ascended the plateau to cut off a bend of the
river; and after keeping on it for four or five miles, we
again desended into the bottom, cutting away a bank
in order to reach it. The plateau was as dreary and
desolate as before, stretching away as far as the eye
could reach to the south in one vast plain, interrupted
at intervals of ten or twenty miles with isolated mountains
rising abruptly from it. The road now became
better, as it wound through a dense thicket of willows





and mezquit, where we could not see our way ten
yards ahead; an admirable place for an ambuscade,
although we had no fear of any thing of the kind. It
was an agreeable change from the utter barrenness
and parching heat of the table-land to find ourselves
now in a thick wood. After passing the northern termination
of "Big Horn" Mountain, we completed our
day's march, and encamped at eleven o'clock in a
thicket of willows near the river. Mr. Leroux, who
was in advance, soon after rode into camp with a fine
black-tailed deer thrown across his mule, which he
had just killed, and which proved delicious eating.
We occasionally saw these deer, as well as antelopes,
as we passed along; but our numbers and the white-topped
wagons alarmed them. Hence it was only by
leaving the party and going in advance that our
hunters could hope for success.

During the day we passed two abandoned wagons
in good condition, save the injury they had received
from long exposure to the sun. From one of them
we helped ourselves to a king-bolt, to replace the one
we had broken a few days before.

From the large quantity of iron strewed about, with
fragments of vehicles, tin kettles, and camp equipage,
we were evidently at a place where wagons had been
broken up and burned. The extent of these traces
showed that it was probably the place where General
Kearney or Colonel Cooke encamped in 1847. We
had discovered their camps in several instances, and
many years must elapse before these signs will be
obliterated. Distance travelled to-day, eighteen miles.

The mountains here are as desolate and barren as


it is possible to conceive. Not a tree or a shrub could
be seen on them, while their bold and abrupt sides are
furrowed with huge chasms and gorges. Between the
base of the mountains and the bottom-land are low
gravelly hills covered with the Spanish bayonet, agave,
and various kinds of cacti. Our mules found a supply
of cane on the margin of the river, with which, and
twigs of willow, they made out to keep up their
strength. The Gila here widens considerably, and is
proportionably shallow and filled with sand-bars.

June 23d.

A violent wind arose last night, which
made it necessary to put out guys to our tents to prevent
their blowing down. A great change in the
atmosphere took place at the same time, so that when
I awoke, I found perspiration checked, and was suffering
from a severe pain in the head. Others were similarly

Left camp at five, A. M., and soon after ascended
the table-land, over which we travelled nine miles, the
river as before making a large bend to the north.
We could trace its course from the bright green line
of cotton-woods and willows, as it wound away through
the desert. Passed the grave of an emigrant by the
road side, his name being written with a pencil on a
strip of board and attached to a tree. Struck the
river for a moment, and again took to the table-land,
which we followed for about nine miles. We descended
where the valley seemed to expand to the width
of nearly three miles, above one half of which was
thickly wooded with cotton-wood, mezquit, and willow.
Here we encamped, on the spot where parties had been
before. Near by was a lagoon, which had the appearance



of having been recently filled with water. It
was now dry, except in a few holes which had been
dug to obtain it. We found the water in these holes
quite brackish, and unfit to drink; consequently we
were obliged to send our animals about a mile and a
half through the wood to the river, from which we
also brought water for our own use. So thick was the
wood, that it was found impracticable to force our
wagons through. This was the most beautiful spot we
had encamped in since leaving the little valley of San
Isabel, in California. We pitched no tents, finding a
better and more agreeable protection in the thick
and overhanging willows, the leaves of which extended
to the ground. Beneath these bushes we were well
sheltered from the sun, and passed the most comfortable
day we had yet experienced along the parched
regions of the Gila. Distance travelled, eighteen

We opened a cache* in the bank here, in which
Dr. Webb had buried a quantity of things, when the
party under his charge passed down the Gila in December
last. Every thing was found safe and in good
condition. The wolves had smelled something below
the surface, although there were no provisions there,
and had dug up and exposed a corner of the tent in
which the articles were enveloped. Had either travellers
or Indians been here since, they would have carried


the investigation further. A great deal of property
has thus been buried by parties crossing to California,
in the hope that they or their friends might at
some future time recover it; although it is safe to say
that of every hundred caches so made, not five are ever
opened afterwards.

In making a cache, it is best to select a spot within
fifty feet of a tree, rock, or other prominent object,
from which the distance can be measured and the bearings
taken. A hole is then dug to such depth as may
be required to bury the intended articles, which are to
be protected by cloths or boards when necessary.
When the hole has been covered over, the earth or
sand that remains is scattered about or removed, so as
to leave no indications of what has been done. It is
well to build the camp-fire immediately over it, as that
will account for the disturbance of the ground, and the
foot prints about the spot. It is never prudent to
make a cache beneath a tree, or in a spot where the
party can be watched by Indians or others lying in
ambush. When Fort Yuma was abandoned a few
months before our arrival there, as it was expected to
be re-occupied, many articles which the garrison did
not wish to remove were thus hidden. But on their
return, they found that their place of concealment
had been discovered by the Yumas, and every thing
carried off.

June 24th.

As the soldiers, being all on foot, were
greatly fatigued by their yesterday's march, I determined
to allow them until evening to rest, and endeavor
to make a march in the night. There was here a
little salt grass and cane about the lagoon, with willow


bushes for the animals; and for ourselves, every luxury
that a camp life affords.

Accordingly, as the sun began to throw its long
shadows across the hills, and when about half an hour of
daylight remained, we moved from camp. The road
was pretty good and less sandy than before. We did
not now take the table-land, but kept on a lower terrace,
which seemed to lead along the spur of a dark
rocky hill, until we were suddenly brought to a stand.
The river had washed away the terrace, and left no
passage. We were therefore obliged to retrace our
steps a short distance, and pass over the hills, which
were exceedingly rocky, and overgrown with cacti.
Not being able to discern the smaller ones among the
rocks, the mules were several times stopped by coming
in contact with their thorns. From one poor creature
the blood flowed as though he had been purposely
bled; many of the men, too, had cause to remember
this night's march among the cacti. At two o'clock,
the moon, which until then had given us a faint light,
went down, when we were compelled to stop, as it was
impossible to find our way through the light and deep
sand in which we then were. The packs were accordingly
removed from the mules, although the saddles
were left on; and the wagon-mules were tied to the
mezquit bushes near. We then lay down on the bare
sand just where we were, and, rolling our blankets
around us, for it was quite cool, slept soundly until

June 25th.

With the break of day we were again
off, having no mules to catch, no tents to strike, or
breakfast to get. In an hour and a half we struck a


sluice of the river, where we encamped. There was
no appearance of grass here; but with plenty of willows
and cotton-wood, the animals seemed content. As
we were all fatigued from our night's journey, we
threw ourselves on the sand, and, after a couple of
hours' sleep, awoke quite refreshed, and ready for our
coffee and breakfast.

All about us we found signs that a large encampment
of Americans had been here, with indications of
a cache. These were the tires of two wheels straightened
and inserted so deeply in the ground that they
could not be withdrawn. They were probably land
marks, from which bearings had been taken and distances
measured. There had evidently been a great
breaking up of wagons and destruction of property
here. The day was very hot, and rendered more
oppressive by the bare sand around us. The bottom
land was broad, and but partially wooded. Near us
was a sluice, which had been filled when the river was
high, or it may have been a bend of the river through
which the water had flowed. We did not see the river.
Just before sunset, we resumed our journey, continuing
a few miles along the river bottom where the road
was good. We then ascended about one hundred and
twenty feet to a plateau, up a very steep and rocky
way, where I much feared our wagons would be crushed;
but by the soldiers taking hold, and every man
pushing and pulling, we at length surmounted the hill.
The road was now hard and smooth, until we came to
an arroyo, which we had to descend, and then cross
over steep and rocky hills, which again endangered
the wagons. On reaching the crest of the table-land,


where we descended to the second terrace or bottom,
we saw numerous fragments of trunks, boxes, clothing,
wagons, with human bones and skulls, showing that it
had been the scene of some terrible disaster. A soldier of
the escort from Fort Yuma revealed to us the mystery.

In March of last year (1851) a party of emigrants,
in crossing the continent, stopped at the Pimo villages.
Among them was a Mr. Oatman and his family, consisting
of his wife, two daughters from 12 to 15 years
of age, and a son of 12 years. Mr. O. had with him
one or more wagons, and a variety of merchandise;
and, contrary to the advice of his friends, he set off
from the village in advance, the rest of the party not
being ready to accompany him. Some days after, his
little son found his way back to the Pimo Indians, a
distance of some seventy miles, having crossed a desert
of forty-five miles without water on his way. He
reported that the party had been attacked by Indians,
his father and mother killed, and his sisters carried
off. He himself had been badly beaten by the
savages and left for dead. After lying some time, he
revived; when he saw the mangled bodies of his parents
before him, his sisters gone, and the wagon plundered
of its contents. The party soon after set out
on their journey, accompanied by the lad and some
Maricopa Indians. On arriving at the scene of the
disaster, they covered the remains of Mr. Oatman and
his wife with stones (for it was impossible to dig a
grave), and then continued their journey to Fort Yuma,
where they informed Major Heintzelman of the

The Major immediately despatched a party of soldiers


with provisions for those still behind, and with
orders to scour the country, and endeavor, if possible,
to recover the missing girls. But they saw no Indians,
nor has it yet been ascertained by what tribe the outrage
was committed.

We reached the valley again at 11 P. M., when we
stopped for the remainder of the night, and lay down
on the sand to get a few hours sleep. The air was so
dry and hot, that tents were unnecessary.

June 26th.

Finding no grass, cane, or bushes near
us on which the animals could feed, we moved off, soon
after 4 o'clock, with the break of day. Our route now
lay across a bed of sand so light that the wheels sank
deep, rendering it necesary to double one of the teams
before we could pass it. Even with the aid of this
device, it was slow work. It now became necessary
to cross the Gila, as the plateau rose abruptly from the
margin of the river, not leaving a passage wide enough
for a mule. Our route had hitherto been wholly on
the south side since leaving the Colorado. I do not
think the north side would present as good a road;
besides which, it would be necessary, if the north bank
should be followed, to cross the Gila at its mouth, as
the Colorado cannot be forded above the junction.

The river where we crossed was about three feet
deep in the channel. After getting over, we had to
traverse another half mile of deep sand, and then
recross, to get on the southern bank once more. At
the second crossing my wagon sank so deep in a quicksand,
that the mules, after struggling in vain to pull it
out, broke the traces and left me alone in the middle
of the stream. It was necessary to attach four mules


to it before it could be drawn out. We now continued
another half mile near the base of a black-looking
rocky bluff without a tree to shade us. I thought
it best to stop here, as we could not reach the next
bend in the river before the sun would be too far up
to travel. The bottom-land, or valley, which is visible

[Figure] Basin of the Gila.

from the summit of this bluff for twenty miles, is altogether
sand, with a few clumps of willows on the margin
of the river. Not an acre of arable land is visible.
The bluff, which is but the termination of the plateau
or desert, rises about one hundred and twenty feet
above the bed of the stream. The river from here is
quite open on the north and west, so that the mountains


on the Colorado which we saw at Fort Yuma
were distinctly visible.

In order to examine some sculptured rocks of which
I had heard, I left camp at 5 o'clock P. M. accompanied
by Doctor Webb, in advance of the train. After crossing
a plain for about five miles, we reached the object
of our search, which consisted of a pile of large boulders,
heaped up some forty or fifty feet above the
plain, and standing entirely alone. Such of these rocks
as present smooth sides are covered with sculptures,
rudely pecked in, of animals and men, as well as of
various figures, apparently without meaning. There
are hundreds of them so ornamented, showing that the
place has long been the resort of the Indians for this
purpose; for there seems to be nothing else to attract
them here. Many of the inscriptions, like those before
described, bear the stamp of great age, others having
been made over them repeatedly, rendering it impossible
to trace out either the early or the later markings.
I selected thirteen, of which I made copies.
By this time the shades of night were falling about us;
and the train having already passed, it was necessary
to hasten on to overtake it. I regretted that I could
not spend the day in this interesting locality, in order
to copy more of the sculptures, as well as to make a
closer examination of the many recesses among the
rocks. I do not attempt any explanation of these rude
figures, but must leave the reader to exercise his own
ingenuity in finding out their meaning, if any.

Leaving this place we entered an arroyo of gravel;
and after following it for two or three miles, we
ascended a very difficult and rocky hill to the plateau.





A spur or projection of this hill had to be crossed;
and then, by an easy slope, we again descended to a
lower terrace. After marching about eighteen miles,
by the bright light of the moon, we stopped the train
and bivouacked in the sand till morning, without
turning out the mules.

June 28th.

We rested comfortably on our sandy
beds, and resuming our march before five o'clock this
morning, reached a bend in the river four miles distant.
As the soldiers had had a tedious march during
the night, and evinced much fatigue, I concluded to
remain here during the day to give them rest.

Our camp was in a very dense thicket of willows
and cotton-woods near the river's bank, into which we
cut our way with axes. Here we had an admirable
retreat, whose recesses the rays of the sun could not
penetrate; and we passed the day with some degree of
comfort. The Gila rippled close by; and a deep hole
being near us which we thought might have some
attractions for trout, should any stray this way, we
rigged our lines, and the experiment was rewarded
with several fine fish.

In the night we were aroused by the firing of a
gun. Every one sprang from his bed, believing an
enemy near; but it proved to be an accident. One
of the Mexican arrieros, in attempting to pull his rifle
out from a pile of saddles with the muzzle towards
him, having caught the trigger and discharged it.
The stupid fellow narrowly escaped with his life, for
the ball passed through his hand.

Soon after five o'clock, p. we resumed our journey;
and after a march of eight miles across a bend,


we again struck the river near a point where our surveying
parties had had a station, and had remained
several days. There we found an abundance of mezquit
and willows, but no appearance of grass. Near us
was a sluice, which a year before was the main branch
of the river, the stream having since found another
channel. We bivouacked at this place, doubtful whether
we should find as good feed for the mules by
proceeding further, the mezquit beans being now in
the best state for the animals.

June 29th.

Before the sun had risen we were
again on our way, intending to stop at the last watering
place, five or six miles in advance. My desire
was to keep the animals fresh and in good condition
for the march across the long desert which lay before
us, and to give the soldiers a day's rest before setting
out. The Gila here makes a bend to the north, and
is not again seen from the road until it reaches the
Coco-Maricopa villages, forty-five miles distant. As
there is no water the whole distance, the journey must
be made in one march, without stopping; to prepare
for it, therefore, we encamped for the day in a mezquit
grove near the river.

The kegs and canteens were filled with water preparatory
for the journey; and in order to give the
soldiers a little the start of us, they set off at four
o'clock. The train left an hour and a half later, our
course being east by north. We entered at once upon
the great plateau or desert, where the road was level
and hard. The animals moved off at a quick gait, and
had seemingly got the idea that they were approaching
grassy fields. About fifteen miles brought us to


a mountain range which had long loomed up before
us, and seemed to present an impassable barrier to our
progress; but as we drew near, what appeared at a
distance to be continuous, now showed many passages
through, of easy access, and with an ascent so gradual
as to be scarcely apparent. The great mountain
chain, as it seemed to us to be, was in reality a collection
of detached ridges and isolated mountains rising
abruptly from the desert. We were accordingly able
to keep on our course, winding through these mountains
with scarcely an ascent or descent worth naming. The
road was excellent through all the defiles; although
there were many small gullies requiring care in crossing,
and which shows that there are very heavy rains
here at times.

The vegetation on this desert is the same as on the
several portions we had from time to time passed over
in our journey from the Colorado. The great cereus
here raises its lofty head above all other plants, attaining
its greatest perfection in this barren and desolate
region. We passed several of gigantic dimensions,
and others of a variety of forms, exhibiting singular
contortions. If one unused to these remarkable plants
should suddenly be brought to this place, where he
would see before him a vast plain studded with thousands
of these cacti, many of which rise to the height
of twenty or thirty feet, in a single stem without a
branch, he would be very likely, particularly if he saw
them as we did by moonlight, to imagine himself in
the midst of the ruins of a magnificent palace, the
columns of which were alone left standing. The lesser
plants, thinly scattered over the plain, are a dwarfish


mezquit and larrea Mexicana, with an occasional palo
verde in the arroyos.

Towards midnight, the pack-mules passed me; for
up to this time I had been in advance. I had observed
before, that in long marches, when the wagon-mules
became fatigued, those with packs would quicken their
pace. My wagon-mules, unwilling to be left, increased
their pace, and I allowed them to keep just far enough
behind the packs to avoid the dust. As there was no
stopping the pack-mules without relieving them of
their burdens, Mr. Leroux said it would be far better
to push on until we reached the water and grass; and
I determined with my little wagon to keep with him.
It was now about two o'clock, and the soldiers as well
as the horsemen were so much fatigued, that the
wagons were stopped, and all threw themselves down
just as they were to get a little rest on the bare desert,
hitching their mules to their waists by their long
lariats. I left them, and hastened forward with Mr.
Leroux and the packs.

June 30th.

At daylight we passed the south end of
a range of mountains which extend to the Gila, terminating
near the mouth of the Salinas River; and at half
past six we reached some water-holes, about a mile from
the first Coco-Maricopa village, thus making the journey
of forty-five miles in thirteen hours. This may be considered
slow in the age of locomotives and steamers,
or even with stage-coaches; but with a train of emaciated
pack-mules, each carrying on his back two hundred
and fifty pounds weight, and going the whole
distance without a particle of food or water, it is something
of a feat.


It was indeed a pleasant sight to find ourselves
once more surrounded by luxuriant grass. Although
we had met with a little salt grass in one or two places
on the march, which no animal would eat if he could
get any thing else, we had not seen a patch of good
grass since leaving our camp at San Isabel, fifty-six
miles from San Diego. At Vallecita and Carrizo Creek
it is indifferent.

As it would yet be several hours before we could
look for the wagons and the remainder of the party,
we turned the mules out to luxuriate on the rich pasture
before them, and creeping under some mezquit bushes
soon fell asleep, rest being more desirable than food.

The wagons with the rest of the party, including
the escort, came in at half-past ten. We now got out
all the tents, and arranged our camp with much care,
as we were to be here for some days, to await the arrival
of Lieutenant Whipple and the surveying party.
We selected a spot in which there was a pretty grove
of mezquit bushes, and there we pitched the tents.
The water here is found in several holes, from four to
six feet below the surface, which were dug by Colonel
Cooke on his march to California. In some of these
holes the water is brackish, in others very pure. The
Gila passes about two miles to the north; for one half
of which distance the grass extends, the other half
being loose sand. Major Emory, in his report,* recommends
parties going to California by this route
not to cross the plateau which we had just come
over, but to keep to the river, as "the journey is but


a trifle longer." The accounts on which he bases this
recommendation were erroneous, the route along the
river being more than double the distance, as reported
to me by the engineers whose duties required them to
follow it. It is besides thickly wooded, and would present
difficulties to wagons, and even to pack-mules;
whereas the road over the plateau which we took is
excellent all the way. It is also proper to state, that
Lieutenant Whipple and Mr. Gray found the bend of
the river to be much greater than it is laid down by
Major Emory on his map.*


Visit from the Coco-Maricopa Indians—Camp removed to the banks of the
Gila—The river dry—No grass—War party—Return to our first camp
—Traffic with these Indians—Further accounts of the Oatman family
—Francisco the Maricopa interpreter—Feeding the tribe—Visit from
the Pimos—Religious notions of these tribes—Their manners and customs
—Agriculture—Art of spinning and weaving—Manufactures of
cotton—Pottery—Basket-work—Dress—Their attempts at collecting
zoological specimens—Villages—Houses and mode of building—Storehouses
—Horses and cattle.

IN the afternoon our camp was filled with the Coco-Maricopa
Indians, who had discovered us from some
of their look-outs. They all manifested a friendly disposition,
and seemed very glad to meet among us so
many of their old acquaintances, several of the party
having spent some days among them while engaged
in surveying the river. The most active and important
man among them was a chief named Francisco Dukey.
He had been in various parts of Mexico and California,
spoke Spanish fluently, and acted as our interpreter.
There were three or four others who had lived for
some time at Tucson, where they had picked up sufficient
Spanish to make themselves understood.


I told them we wanted vegetables, fruit, green
corn, and mules; for which we would pay them in
white cotton cloth, calico, red flannel and other shirts,
blankets, and trinkets. They generally raise a great
many fine melons; but it was too early yet for them.
They brought us green corn, squashes, beans, and
dried peas. We also bought of them some dried
corn (maize) for the animals.

The culinary department, as usual, seemed to have
most attractions for our Indian friends, who formed a
double row around the fire while cooking was going
on. They also crowded into the tents, and occupied
all the space about them. When night came, we
expected they would leave; but they stretched themselves
out on the grass, and passed the night in the

June 30th.

As the heat was intense, the mercury
ranging from 100° to 110°, and as we had very little
shade, it was thought advisable to get nearer the
river, where there were more trees, and where the
men would have a better opportunity to bathe, a luxury
which they had enjoyed every day since leaving
Fort Yuma. The Indians told me we had better
remain where we were, as there was no grass near the
river. I felt disposed to listen to them; but such was
the desire of the party to be on the water that I consented
to go, and gave orders to strike the tents immediately
after breakfast.

By eight o'clock we set off, under the guidance of
Francisco, and followed by fifty or sixty more of his
tribe. After crossing a deep arroyo of sand, which is
filled by the river at its floods, and pushing our way


through a thick underbrush of willows, we at length
reached the bank of the river, when I found the statements
of the Indians too true. There were many fine
large cotton-wood trees, beneath which we stopped,
and which afforded us a good shade from the scorching
rays of the sun; but there was not a blade of grass to
be seen, and, what was worse, the Gila was dry! We
crossed and recrossed its bed without wetting the soles
of our shoes; although by digging a couple of feet,
we found water for ourselves and our animals.

We now turned the animals loose to browse upon
the twigs of the willows and cotton-woods, as there
was no other food for them; and I sent Mr. Leroux
up the stream, in search of the two great desiderata
for the party, grass and water, and shade if it was to be
found. In three or four hours, after making a diligent
search through the bottom, he returned and reported
that the river was dry as far as he had followed it,
and that he had met with no grass. In fact, he was
told by the Indians, that we should find no grass until
we passed the Pimo villages, from twelve to fifteen
miles beyond. It was so hot and dry where we were,
that we did not pitch our tents, having concluded to
retrace our steps in the morning to our first camp at
the water-holes.

The dryness of the river was produced by the
water having been turned off by the Indians to irrigate
their lands, for which the whole stream seemed barely
sufficient. It is probable, however, that, with more
economical management, it might be made to go much

A party of the Coco-Maricopas remained with us


to-day, who were to set off in the morning on an expedition
against their enemies, the Apaches, north of the
Salinas. They were gayly dressed, as is the universal
custom of the Indians on such occasions, and mounted
on good-looking horses. The chiefs who were to lead
the band begged hard of me to lend them a few rifles
with the necessary ammunition; which I had to refuse.
As an additional inducement, which they thought I
could not refuse, they offered to bring me a live
Apache boy, and a girl too, if I wished; but having
no desire for such additions to our party, I was compelled
to decline the generous proposal.

July 1st

Our Indian friends composing the war
party were up at daylight preparing for a start. They
seemed to be supplied with small loaves of bread and
dried meat, of which they made their morning's meal.
They then decorated themselves with all the finery
they could muster. Most of them had shirts of white
cotton or red flannel, which they had obtained of us,
and which they seemed to regard as the beau-ideal of
a dress, without the addition of any other garment.
Such as had their own cotton blankets, placed them
around their bodies in folds, and over this wound their
lariats as tight as possible; for the double purpose, I
suppose, of bracing their bodies, and of protecting
their vital parts from arrows. Those who possessed
neither shirts nor blankets, remained as nature made
them, with the addition of a little paint. On their
head dresses, they had all bestowed more attention
than on their bodies. Some had them plastered with
clay, so as to resemble huge turbans. Others had
decorated the great club of hair which hung down


their backs with bits of scarlet cloth, but more of
them with the richly-figured sashes or belts of their
own manufacture. Some again wore their hair in
braids tastefully wound around their heads, intermingled
with pieces of scarlet cloth; while a few, less particular
as to their appearance, wore it clubbed up
behind in a huge mass. The manes and tails of their
horses were also set off with bits of white and red
cloth. Their arms were solely the bow and arrow:
most of them had a skin quiver hung across their
backs; though a few carried their arrows in their girdles.
There was quite an exciting time as the party
were about to start; and several of the Commission
desired to take their rifles and accompany them, a
request which was of course refused.

Wishing to get back to our old camp in the cool of
the morning, we did not wait for breakfast, but were
off by five o'clock, and, after another hard tug through
the sand, reached the camping ground, where we had
every thing we could ask for, except shade, and water
to bathe in. The latter was the greatest deprivation.
The tents were again pitched, and the camp arranged
as it was on the day of our arrival.

The Indians again flocked around us, and in greater
numbers than before. The Pimos having heard of our
arrival, many of them came also, bringing such vegetables
as they had, together with pinole, made both
from wheat and corn. Some of the pinole was sweetened
with the flour of mezquit beans, which they also
brought separate in small earthen vases, or ollas, as the
Mexicans call them. The mezquit flour, which is ground
very fine, has a sickish sweetness; so that, although I


became fond of the beans in the pod, and liked to pick
them from the trees as we rode along, I could not eat
them when dry and converted into flour. They also
brought us the fruit of the petahaya rolled up in masses
or balls as large as one's fist. In this state it resembles
in appearance the pulp of figs, and has something
of the same taste mingled with that of the raspberry.
We had gathered some as we came along the Gila, but
had found none so good as this. All became very
fond of it, and our Indian friends found a ready sale
for all they brought. Jars of molasses extracted from
the same were also offered for sale.

I inquired of the Indians to-day what they knew of
the murder of the Oatman family before mentioned.
They remembered the affair well; indeed one of the
chiefs present had accompanied the party after the
committal of the murder. His statement corresponded
with what I have related. They charged the Tonto
Apaches with the crime, and said, "With God's permission,
we will retake the two children, and restore
them to the Americans." I told them they should be
well rewarded, if they would do so; and that if so fortunate
as to recover them, they might take them to
the American Fort (Yuma) on the Colorado; or if
they could not carry them there, to the Mexican commanding
officer at Tucson.

Among the Maricopas, I noticed to-day three whom
I had seen in Ures when there last winter, and to whom
I had given notes of recommendation. They now
showed them to me carefully wrapped up in several
envelopes, and deposited in a bag of black skin. All
the chiefs, both Pimos and Coco-Maricopas, have letters


which they have obtained from passing emigrants,
recommending them to the favor and kind treatment
of others. They prize these certificates very highly.

July 2d.

This morning, Francisco, the Maricopa interpreter,
breakfasted with me, and, from his ease at
table, showed that he had been among civilized people
before. He was well dressed, having on pantaloons, a
shirt, and hat. He is a man of much intelligence and
shrewdness, and expressed a desire to serve us. The
Americans who had been through these villages before,
he said, had given his people very little, although they
had done much for them. They had brought the
Americans wood and water, and had acted as guides,
sometimes accompanying them many miles, and he himself
had acted as interpreter for all parties, but had
received little or nothing in return. Besides this, his
people had often given corn, melons, and vegetables,
to ours; but the Americans had told them they were
very poor (as they doubtless were), and had neither
clothes nor goods with which to reward their kindness.
He said they sometimes received money
from the Americans; but it was of little use to them,
as they wanted manta (white cotton) and shirts. I told
Francisco, in reply, that those he referred to were
mostly families of poor emigrants, who had left their
homes, and were going to California in the hope of
doing better; and that before I left, if his people conducted
themselves well, I would not only pay him for
all I received, but would make him and the other chiefs
of his tribe presents, to induce them to treat all other
Americans who might pass their villages with kindness,
and supply them with what they could spare.


There was one practice of this chief that was not
so agreeable to me, namely, that of helping his friends
to the choicest bits from my table. When we took
our places, they all assembled, and sat or stood gaping
around. Francisco, during the meal, occasionally handed
them a piece of bread or meat; and when we had
finished, he coolly piled up his plate, and passed it
around among his friends. At first, I was rather
amused at the fellow's impudence; but on a subsequent
occasion, he carried the joke still farther, not only
giving them what he had collected on his own plate,
but stripping the table of all that remained, so as to
leave nothing for my cook and servant. As our supply
of provisions was limited, I had no idea of feeding
so many hungry mouths, which had an abundance
at home; consequently my second invitation to the
chief, was the last. Yet he made his appearance regularly
every morning while we remained, and gave
many hints about being hungry, expressing his surprise
to the cook that he did not have a seat at my table.
I told him, finally, that it was not the custom among
Americans, when they asked a friend to their table, to
feed his whole tribe.

This man afterwards became quite a bore to us; for
nothing would satisfy his avarice. I gave him shirts,
pantaloons, white cotton, and calico, besides beads and
trinkets for his wife and children. Lieut. Paige, also,
made him some valuable presents; but he constantly
asked for more, and was most importunate for whiskey.
I told him we had none; but this he seemed to doubt,
declaring that we were the first party of Americans he
had ever seen that did not drink whiskey. Every


junk bottle he saw about my tent or wagon, was suspected
to contain the forbidden liquor; and nothing
would satisfy him until he examined them himself.
After finding in one lemon syrup, in another vinegar,
and in a third a mixture for diarrhœa, which communicated
an unpleasant pucker to his mouth, the fellow gave
up all hopes of obtaining the object of his search. Much
harm has been done by Americans in giving this poor
and simple-hearted people intoxicating drinks; and it
is a matter of satisfaction to me to state, that in my
long intercourse with the Indians here, as well as at the
Copper Mines with the Apaches, none ever got a drop
of liquor from me, or from my camp to my knowledge.

In the evening, while a crowd of Indians were lying
or squatting around my tent, I had a long talk with a
Maricopa, whose name I forget (but who spoke Spanish
well), on the manners and customs of his people.
This man was terribly crippled, having a year before
been engaged in a fight with the Yumas, in which his
party was defeated. He was lanced in many places,
beaten with clubs, his hair cut off, and left for dead.
After the combatants had left, he revived, and by
some means succeeded in getting home. He was still
unable to walk, except with a long staff, but had to be
lifted on his horse, and rode about with some difficulty.
He was quite an intelligent man, and, while we
remained, was constantly in our camp.

He said the Coco-Maricopas came here not many
years before, to escape from the Yumas, with whom
they were constantly at war, and by whom they had
been greatly reduced in numbers. Their former range
was along the valley of the Gila, on the opposite side


of the Jornada and towards the Colorado. Their present
position adjoining the Pimos, was chosen for the
benefit of mutual protection.

This people restrict themselves to a single wife.
Their ideas of a Supreme Being, in whose existence
they believe, are of so vague a nature that I could not
ascertain them with exactness. After death, they
believe that their souls go to the banks of the Colorado,
their ancient dwelling-place, and there take refuge in
the great sand hills, where they are metamorphosed
into various animals and birds. Their heads, hands,
feet, etc., each become owls, bats, wolves, and other
animals. They believe, too, that the souls of their enemies,
the Yumas, also find a place there; and that the
wars which have so long existed between them on earth,
will be continued there, after death.

When a man desires to marry, and has made choice
of a girl for his wife, he first endeavors to win over
her parents by making them presents. The fair one's
attention is sought by another process. To do this, he
takes his flute, an instrument of cane with four holes,
and, seating himself beneath a bush near her dwelling,
keeps up a plaintive noise for hours together.
This music is continued day after day; and if no
notice is at length taken of him by the girl, he may
"hang up his flute," as it is tantamount to a rejection.
If the proposal is agreeable, the fair one
makes it known to the suitor, when the conquest is
considered complete. No girl is forced to marry against
her will, however eligible her parents may consider
the match. Whenever a girl marries, it is expected
that her husband will present her parents with as much


as his means will permit, to compensate them for the
loss of their daughter, whose services are to them a
matter of consequence.

[Figure] Indian Flute, and Rattle of Deer's Hoofs.

Among both the Coco-Maricopas and the Pimos,
the women do the principal part of the work. Besides
taking care of the children and attending to the household
matters, they grind the corn, make baskets, gather
mezquit beans, help till the ground, and sometimes
spin and weave.

The men plant and gather the crops, and take care
of the animals. This I believe is all they do; and as
the performance of these duties is not a very onerous
task, they are idle the greater portion of the time. Their
implements of husbandry are steel hoes and axes which
they obtain from the Mexicans, harrows, and occasionally
a long-handled spade. Grinding corn on the metates,
or stones, is a work of great labor, and comes
hard on the poor women, who are obliged to get upon
their knees, and exert the whole strength of their arms


and bodies in the task. I have seen women thus employed
when the thermometer stood at 110°, while
their lords lay stretched out at length on their backs
looking on.

Water is invariably brought by the women in large
earthen vessels upon their heads resting upon a small
cushion. Some of these vessels hold six gallons. This
mode of carrying burdens, by which the body is kept
in a perfectly erect position, tends greatly to develope
the chest and add to the general beauty of the figure.
Hence we see among the Indians, as well as among the
lower class of Mexicans, forms which Walker might
well have taken for models in his "Analysis of Beauty
in Women."

As the manners and customs of the Pimos and
Coco-Maricopas are the same, with the exception of
their rites of burial, I shall include both in describing
these customs; although there is little doubt but that
the knowledge of the arts which they possess originated
with the Pimos. Cotton is raised by them,* which
they spin and weave. Their only manufactures consist
of blankets of various textures and sizes; a heavy cloth
of the same material used by the women to put around
their loins; and an article from three to four inches
wide, used as a band for the head, or a girdle for the
waist. The blankets are woven with large threads,
slightly twisted and without any nap. They are made
of white cotton, and are without ornament of colors or
figures, save a narrow selvage of buff.


The implements used by these tribes for spinning
and weaving are of the most primitive character. A
slender stick about two feet long passing through a
block of wood which serves to keep up the momentum
imparted to it, constitutes the spindle. One end of
this rests on a wooden cup inserted between the toes,

[Figure] Indian weaving.

and the other is held and twirled by the fingers of the
right hand; while the left hand is occupied in drawing
out the thread from the supply of cotton, which is
coiled upon the left arm in loose rolls.

In weaving, the warp is attached to two sticks, and


stretched upon the ground by means of stakes. Each
alternate thread of the warp is passed round a piece of
cane, which, being lifted, opens a passage for the shuttle
in the manner of a sley. The operator sits in the
fashion of a tailor, and, raising the sley with one hand,
with the other passes the shuttle, which is simply a
pointed stick with the thread wound upon it, between
the threads of the warp. The work is beaten up after
the passage of each thread by the use of a sharp smooth-edged
instrument made of hard wood. The operation
of course progresses slowly; and from the length of
time consumed in spinning and weaving, they set a
high price upon their blankets, asking for them ten or
twelve dollars in money, or a new woollen blanket of
equal size. The weaving is generally done by the old

The head-band or girdle consists of a white ground
with a variety of figures of red, blue, and buff. The
figures are angular, and, though they present a great
variety, are all of one general character. The colored
portions of these belts are made of wool, and the colors
are quite brilliant. On examining the patterns on these
bands, one is struck with their general resemblance to
the figures on the ancient pottery found among the
ruins of this country, a comparison with which will be
made hereafter.

The pottery made by these tribes is all red or dark
brown, the latter a blending of black and red. The
articles made are very limited, though, perhaps, quite
sufficient for their wants. In fact, they are the same
as those made and in use by the Mexicans. They consist
of ollas, or vases, of every size, the largest holding


about two pailfulls, and the smallest half a pint; jars
with small apertures, resembling bottles; basins of different
sizes and forms, from that of a milk-pan to a
saucer; and oblong vessels of small dimensions used
as dippers. All these vessels are painted or ornamented
with black lines arranged in geometrical figures, and of
a character resembling those on the head-bands.

[Figure] Baskets and Pottery of the Pimos and Coco-Maricopas.

The basket work of this people is remarkably well
made of willow twigs, and so close as to be impervious
to water. The baskets are of various shapes, and are
used for different purposes. Those of a large basin-like
form are the most common. These they carry on
their heads filled with corn or other articles. Like


the pottery, they are ornamented with geometrical
figures, arranged with much taste.

The dress of the Coco-Maricopas and the Pimos is
the same. The women fold the smaller blankets or
other cloths, and pass them around their loins, letting
them hang to their knees. They are sometimes
fastened with one of the belts before mentioned, but
are generally kept in place by simply tucking one end
in. Sandals of raw hide are worn on the feet. Nothing
is worn on the head, nor is the hair ever tied up.

[Figure] Skin Pouch.

In front it is cut off square across the eyebrows; the
rest is suffered to hang loosely over the ears, neck,
and about half way down the back, affording a protection
to these parts from the intense heat of the sun.
It is a universal custom among the women when they
arrive at maturity, to draw two lines with some blue-colored
dye from each corner of the mouth to the chin.
This is pricked in with some pointed instrument, and
remains through life. Occasionally a fair one gets a


string of beads; but I saw more men and boys with
these ornaments than women. One boy in particular,
who might pass for a dandy among them, wore some
twenty or more strings of beads. The body, arms,
and legs of the women are naked. They generally
have fine forms; for which they are indebted, as I
have before remarked, to their mode of carrying burdens
on their heads. In this respect, there is a marked
difference between them and the men, who are generally
lean and lank, with very small limbs and narrow
chests. Their labor is so light, and they keep so
closely to their villages or the immediate vicinity, that
there is no opportunity for physical development.
The men in general go naked, except the breech-cloth.
A few, however, are provided with their native
blankets of large size, which they fold and throw
over their shoulders in the manner of the Mexicans.
Some fasten them around their waists in graceful folds,
letting the ends fall to their knees; then drawing a
cord between their legs and attaching it to their waists,
their garment resembles a capacious pair of pantaloons.
I suppose that all are provided with cotton blankets;
but, owing to the almost incessant heat of the day,
they seldom wear them. At night, when cool, these
constitute their sole covering. The head-band is worn
by nearly all the men gracefully put on in several folds,
with the braided ends hanging down to their shoulders.
They also have a large woollen cord, from half
an inch to an inch in diameter, of different colors,
which they use as a head ornament, twining it around
the hair. So many Americans have been among these
people, that most of them have obtained ragged or


cast-off shirts, which they put on on great occasions.
By their traffic with the Boundary Commission, they
obtained a large number of these garments of a good
substantial quality both cotton and woollen. The bright
scarlet shirts gave them quite a picturesque appearance.
When they visited our camp, every man put
on his best garments, no matter what was their fashion,
or how many he had. I remember that on one occasion
Francisco made his appearance in a pair of pantaloons,
with a white shirt, over which was a checked
one, and another of red flannel outside of that. For a
short time he strutted about the camp, the envy and
admiration of his friends. But he soon got tired of
sporting such a dress with the heat at 110°; and
shortly after we saw him cooling off on the grass,
divested of all his finery, which he had carefully tied
up in a bundle.

The men wear their hair long, never cutting it
except across the eyebrows, down to which it hangs,
and thus partially protects the eyes. When loosed,
their hair reaches to their knees; but usually it is
clubbed up in a large mass on their backs. Their ear-locks
either hang loose, or are braided in several
strands, with little ornaments of bone, tin, or red cloth
attached to them. But the decoration of their heads
with the bands of which I have spoken, forms the most
picturesque part of their costume. They have a singular
practice of filling their hair with clay; so that
when dry it resembles a great turban. I could not
imagine their object in adopting so filthy a custom,
unless it was to destroy the vermin. The men also
wear a profusion of beads when they can obtain them.


Some have long strings of sea-shells or parts of shells,
which are highly prized. I tried to buy some of them;
but the only man at all disposed to sell asked me five
dollars or a pair of blankets for a few strings, a price
so extravagant that I declined to make the purchase.

The women carry their infants in cradles similar to
those of other Indians. I have seen them in camp
with a basket of green corn on their heads, and on the
top of this the cradle and child. When it gets to be
about a year old, it is carried astride on the hip, the
mother holding one arm around its body. Although
the men and boys go naked, I never saw a girl, however
young, without clothes around its hips similar to
those worn by the women.

The Indians were much amused by Dr. Webb's collection
of insects, reptiles, and small mammalia, which
were preserved in bottles or hanging about our tent.
I told the boys to go out and collect for us any curious
insects, lizards, or snakes they could find, and that I
would reward them for so doing. Instead of letting
the boys go, the men, in the belief that they would be
well rewarded, went themselves, and in a few hours
came very earnestly to my tent with a few grasshoppers
and crickets. Although utterly valueless, as containing
nothing new, yet Dr. Webb graciously received
them, as an encouragement to prosecute their
zoological researches further, at the same time informing
his new recruits that lizards and horned frogs,
which abound on the plateau, would be most acceptable.
They now set off again, and we hoped something
better from this second effort. About an hour
after, some half-a-dozen sturdy fellows marched towards


my tent in single file, with a great deal of
importance. The leader advanced with a dignified
air, and the Doctor got his bottles ready to receive
the specimens which the six men had collected. But
his expectations, if he indulged any, of adding new
species to his collection, soon vanished, when the man
laid upon the table two small lizards, minus their tails,
which had been broken off in securing them. For their
arduous services in the cause of science, the captors
of the tailless lizards coolly demanded a shirt apiece.

Two old chiefs made their appearance to-day, and
at once recognised Mr. Leroux as the person who
guided Colonel Cooke and his battalion through here
in 1847. Mr. Leroux also recognised one whom they
called Blanco, as a chief who commanded the Maricopas
twenty-five years ago, when a party of hunters
and trappers from New Mexico, among whom was
Leroux, had a severe fight with them, and escaped
narrowly with their lives. On being reminded of it,
the old chief recollected the circumstances, which he
related, and which corresponded with the account of

The valley or bottom-land occupied by the Pimos
and Coco-Maricopas extends about fifteen miles along
the south side of the Gila, and is from two to four
miles in width, nearly the whole being occupied by
their villages and cultivated fields. The Pimos occupy
the eastern portion. There is no dividing line between
them, nor any thing to distinguish the villages of one
from the other. The whole of this plain is intersected
by irrigating canals from the Gila, by which they
are enabled to control the waters, and raise the


most luxuriant crops. At the western end of the
valley is a rich tract of grass, where we had our
encampment. This is a mile or more from the nearest
village of the Coco-Maricopas. On the northern side
of the river there is less bottom-land, and the irrigation
is more difficult. There are a few cultivated
spots here; but it is too much exposed to the attacks
of their enemies for either tribe to reside upon it.

The villages consist of groups of from twenty to
fifty habitations, surrounded by gardens and cultivated
fields, intersected in every direction by acequias, which
lead the water from the Gila. Their mode of irrigation
is the same as that practised in various parts of
Mexico. Their cultivated fields are generally fenced
with crooked stakes, wattled with brush, the thorny
mezquit predominating; although I noticed large
patches of wheat, a long distance from any village,
that were not inclosed.

Their houses are built with stakes, poles, corn-shucks,
and straw. For the small houses, four upright
stakes forked at one end are inserted in the ground.
For the larger dwellings nine are used; three on each
side, and one in the centre. Across the tops of these,
other sticks are laid to support the roof. Next a row
of poles is inserted in the ground, a few feet outside
the larger upright stakes, bent over towards the centre
and fastened to the horizontal beams. These are then
united in the centre, forming a slightly rounded top.
Smaller poles are now horizontally interlaced with
the upright ones, and between them straw, corn-shucks,
or rushes are interwoven in large masses, so as to shed
the rain and protect them from the intense heat of the


sun; some are then plastered over with mud. An
opening for a door is left, about three feet high, to
creep in at. These habitations vary in height from
five to seven feet; so that in many of them one cannot
stand erect. In fact they are chiefly used to sit and
sleep in. In diameter they are from fifteen to twenty-five
feet. In the most westerly village of the Coco-Maricopas,
from which the annexed sketch was taken,
the wigwams are wholly plastered with mud. Their
cooking is done out of doors, where the greater portion
of their time is passed, beneath a kind of shed or
bower attached to the wigwams This is open on all
sides, and merely protected from the sun overhead.
Beneath these bowers the people are generally seen
engaged in their household occupations, only resorting
to their better protected abodes in cool or rainy
weather. The accompanying sketch shows the manner
of erecting these wigwams.

[Figure] Mode of constructing Wigwams.

Besides the dwelling-places, each family is provided
with a store-house or granary. These are built like
the Mexican jakals, i. e., with stakes placed close
together and about eight or nine feet high. They are
better structures than the dwellings, and are probably
made more open, in order to give a free circulation of


air through the grain deposited in them. They are
wattled with straw and rushes, and are sometimes
coated with a thick layer of mud. As this becomes
dry, additional layers of mud are added, which render

[Figure] Coco-Maricopa Village.

them impervious to water. The wheat and shelled
corn (maize) are put into large vases or baskets, from
three to five feet high, made out of ropes of wheaten
straw. These ropes, which are as thick as one's arm,
are coiled around into graceful forms, and sewed
together like some kinds of basket work. The vases


so formed contain ten or twelve, and some even fifteen
bushels of grain. The following sketch exhibits a view
of the interior of a Pimo granary or store-house.

[Figure] Pimo store-house.

On the tops of their wigwams and granaries may
often be seen large piles of mezquit beans in the pod,
which are placed there to dry, preparatory to being
ground into flour for pinole.

Both the tribes of Indians referred to, use a singular
piece of frame-work made of three poles connected
with a netting, which is carried on their backs. These
are used both by women and men for gathering mezquit
beans, corn, and other light articles. They may be
seen at every wigwam, and answer the purpose of a
wheelbarrow. They are highly prized by their owners,
as they are very useful to them, and are made with
much labor. For the only specimen I could obtain, I
was obliged to give goods to the value of ten dollars.

These people possess horses and cattle, though but


very few mules. I found it impossible to procure a
single mule from them during my stay. They breed
none, and what they obtain are such as have been lost
or abandoned by passing emigrants. They plough but
little, finding their hoes quite sufficient for turning up
the light soil. When ploughing is resorted to, oxen
alone are used. They possess a few carts and wagons,
obtained from emigrants, which they use with oxen
for agricultural purposes. We saw all kinds of saddles
among them, from the best dragoon and Mexican
saddles to the simple tree or frame. They find them
on the road, where they have been thrown away by
parties who have lost their animals. Those who ride
bareback use a broad girth, which is passed quite
loosely around the body of the horse. Into this one
foot is inserted. There seemed to be numbers of
horses among them, which with the cattle are left to
graze near the villages during the day, and at night
are brought into the corrals, or yards, for safety.

The only weapon used by these tribes is the bow
and arrow. The short club of the Yumas and the
long lance of the Apaches I never saw among them.
The constant use of this weapon has rendered them
excellent marksmen. Eveu the boys are very expert
in the use of it. I have seen boys of ten or
twelve years of age, strike a cent three times out of
five at a distance of fifteen yards. It is quite common
for them to shoot doves with their arrows, and to bring
in half a dozen of these birds after a ramble among the
cotton-woods. It is a favorite amusement with both
men and boys to try their skill at hitting the petahaya,
which presents a fine object on the plain. Numbers


often collect for this purpose; and in crossing the
great plateau, where these plants abound, it is common
to see them pierced with arrows.

[Figure] Pimo man and woman.



Journey to the River Salinas—Its rich bottom-lands—Large stream—Pimo
Indians—Ruined buildings—Mounds—Broken pottery—Traces of irrigating
canals—Ancient population probably large—Return towards
the Pimo villages—Are taken for Apaches—Arrival at camp—Arrival
of Lieutenant Whipple—Survey of the Gila completed—Trade
reopened with the Coco-Maricopas—Presents—Tribe of Cawenas—
Remove to the Pimo villages—Cola Azul and the Pimos—Traffic
with them—Conference—Giving presents—Arrival of Mexican traders
—Return of Lieutenant Paige with the escort—Leave the villages.

July 3d.

In order to make the most of my time
while waiting the arrival of Lieutenant Whipple and
party, I determined to take a short trip up the river
Salinas, as far as the "Casas Grandes," or ancient
remains said to be there. I asked a couple of Maricopas
to go with me as guides, and offered them a red
flannel shirt each for their services. They wished two
others to accompany them, if I would take them on
the same terms. Finding that I consented so readily,
they parleyed a while, and then demanded for each a
shirt, six yards of cotton, and sundry small articles,
without which they declared they would not go.
Francisco, the interpreter, was their spokesman, and I
have no doubt urged them to make this demand. I


refused to accede to it, and told them that Francisco
and one other would answer my purpose, as first proposed.

At six o'clock this morning we set off, the party
consisting of Dr. Webb, Messrs. Thurber, Pratt, Seaton,
Force, Leroux, and myself, with attendants. Lieutenant
Paige, with six soldiers, also accompanied us, that
officer wishing to examine the opposite bank of the
Gila, as well as the lands contiguous to the Salinas,
with a view of establishing a military post in the vicinity
of the Pimo villages. After crossing the bed
of the Gila we pursued a westerly course about eight
miles to the point of a range of mountains, near which
we struck the bottom-lands. We now inclined more
to the north, and in about eight miles struck the Salinas,
about twelve miles from its mouth, where we
stopped to let the animals rest and feed. The bottom,
which we crossed diagonally, is from three to four
miles wide. The river we found to be from eighty to
one hundred and twenty feet wide, from two to three
feet deep, and both rapid and clear. In these respects
it is totally different from the Gila, which, for the two
hundred miles we had traversed its banks, was sluggish
and muddy, a character which I think it assumes
after passing the mountainous region and entering one
with alluvial banks. The water is perfectly sweet,
and neither brackish nor salt, as would be inferred
from the name. We saw from the banks many fish in
its clear waters, and caught several of the same species
as those taken in the Gila. The margin of the river
on both sides, for a width of three hundred feet, consists
of sand and gravel, brought down by freshets when


the stream overflows its banks; and from the appearance
of the drift-wood lodged in the trees and bushes,
it must at times be much swollen, and run with great
rapidity. The second terrace or bottom-land, varies
from one to four miles in width, and is exceedingly
rich. As it is but little elevated above the river, it
could be irrigated with ease. At present it is covered
with shrubs and mezquit trees, while along the immediate
margin of the stream large cotton-wood trees
grow. Near by we saw the remains of several Indian
wigwams, some of which seemed to have been but
recently occupied. Francisco told us they were used
by his people and the Pimos when they came here to
fish. He also told us that two years before, when the
cholera appeared among them, they abandoned their
dwellings on the Gila and came here to escape the

Owing to the intense heat, we lay by until five
o'clock, and again pursued our journey up the river
until dark, when, finding a little patch of poor grass,
we thought best to stop for the night. Supper was
got, and a good meal made from our fish. As we
brought no tents, we prepared our beds on the sand.

We had not long been in when we saw a body of
twelve or fifteen Indians on the river making for our
camp. At first some alarm was felt, until Francisco
told us that they were Pimos. They proved to be a
party which had been engaged in hunting and fishing.
They were a jolly set of young men, dancing and singing
while they remained with us. I told them we
would like a few fish for breakfast, if they would bring
them in. With this encouragement, they took leave


of us, promising to fetch us some in the morning.
But instead of waiting till the morning, they returned
to the camp about midnight, aroused the whole party
with their noise, and wished to strike a bargain at
once for their fish, a pile of which, certainly enough
to last a week, they had brought us. There was no
getting rid of them without making a purchase, which
I accordingly did, when they left, and permitted us to
get a few hours' more sleep.

July 4th, 1852.

Left camp at half-past four, A. M.,
determined not to wait for breakfast, but make the
most of our time while it was cool; for it would be
impossible to travel, or rather be attended with great
inconvenience, during the heat of the day. We continued
our course due east up the river, towards some
singular piles of rocks with fantastic tops, appearing
like works of art. For some time we all imagined
these rocks to be the ruined buildings of which we were
in search—the "houses of Montezuma," as our Indian
friends called them. We passed over the edge of a
mountain, at the base of which the river ran, and
then came to a wide and open plain, stretching some
twenty-five or thirty miles eastwardly and southwardly.
Entering this, we attempted to cross the bottom,
which was so thickly overgrown with weeds and
bushes that we could not penetrate it. We tried in
vain to get through, but finding ourselves scattered,
and fearing we should lose sight of each other, we
retraced our steps along the margin of the hill, until
we passed the jungle. The bottom now became more
open, and five or six miles further brought us to the
plateau. On our way we saw many traces of ancient


irrigating canals, which were the first evidences that
the country had been settled and cultivated. But on
reaching the plateau we found remains of buildings,
all, however, in shapeless heaps. Not an erect wall
could be seen. A little mound, conical or oblong,
designated the character of the building. In many
places I traced long lines of fallen walls, and in others
depressions, from which the soil had been removed
to make the adobe. On the plain, in every direction,
we found an immense quantity of broken pottery,
metate stones for grinding corn, and an occasional
stone axe or hoe. The ground was strewn with
broken pottery for miles. It was generally painted
in a variety of geometric figures. The predominant
colors were red, black, and white. The quality of the
ware was very fine, more so than that made by the
Pimos. I noticed too that much of it was painted on
the inside, while at the present time all the pottery of
the Indians and Mexicans is painted on the outside.

As it was now growing very warm, we left the
plateau and struck off for the Salinas, encamping
beneath some tall cotton-woods, where we prepared
and partook of a late breakfast.

Mr. Leroux, who had before come down the Salinas,
pointed out to me a mountain some six or eight
miles off, at the base of which the river San Francisco
or Verde enters from the north. Since we struck the
Salinas, its course had been mostly east and west; and
as far as it could be traced by the cotton-woods and
verdure which mark its course, its direction indicated
the same. We supposed ourselves now to be
from thirty-five to forty miles from its mouth. Looking


east from where we were, the whole prospect was
shut in by mountains rising one above the other. I
was informed by Leroux, that such was the character
of the country all the way to New Mexico; and that
there were no more broad desert plains or luxuriant
valleys like those of the Salinas and Gila rivers for the
entire distance. He came here from Albuquerque, on
the Rio Grande, by the valley of the Rio Verde, in
fourteen days.

We found the river clear and rapid, as at the first
camp, with many trout, whose silvery sides glittered
in the translucent stream. The quantity of water
passing down the Salinas is more than double that of
the Gila, which only becomes a respectable river after
it receives the waters of the former. Yet there are
seasons when the whole is evaporated, or absorbed by
the sandy bed through which it passes, before reaching
the Colorado. When at Hermosillo, in Sonora, I
met an American who had passed over the same route,
and he found the bed dry in many places.

At five in the afternoon, the heat being less, I
crept from beneath my shelter of willows, where I had
spent several hours, and, accompanied by Dr. Webb,
mounted my mule, and left for the plateau in advance
of the party. A ride of a mile brought us to the table-land,
when we made for a large mound or heap which
arose from the plain. In crossing the bottom we
passed many irrigating canals; and along the base of
the plateau was one from twenty to twenty-five feet
wide, and from four to five feet deep, formed by cutting
down the bank—a very easy mode of construction,
and which produced a canal much more substantial


than if carried across the bottom. It must have
extended many miles. The whole of this broad valley
appeared to have been cultivated, though now over-grown
with mezquit shrubbery.

On reaching the great pile, I found it to be the
remains of an adobe edifice from two hundred to two
hundred and twenty-five feet in length, by from sixty
to eighty feet wide, its sides facing the cardinal points.
Portions of the wall were visible only in two places,
one near the summit, at the south end, where, from
the height of the pile, it must have originally been
three or four stories high; and the other at the northern
extremity, on the western side. These remains
just projected above the mass of rubbish and crumbled
walls. The rest formed rounded heaps of various
heights and dimensions, worn into deep gullies by the
rain; the whole presenting a striking resemblance to
the mounds which mark the site of ancient Babylon.

The higher walls seen in the sketch, probably
belonged to an inner portion of the building. Near
this is a conical hill, formed, doubtless, by the crumbling
away of the higher portion or tower. Near the
wall, which projects from the lower portion, at the
northern end, are some large masses of this wall
which have fallen. The adobe is still very hard, so
much so that I could not break it with the heel of my
boot. Several broken metates, or corn-grinders, lie
about the pile. I picked up a stone pestle and some
small sea shells. Along the eastern side are the
remains of a long wall, extending beyond the building,
now but a rounded heap, which seemed to have
formed an inclosure. On the western side is an excavation


about four feet deep, and extending from sixty
to eighty feet from the main heap, and along its entire
length; from which I suppose the mud and gravel to
have been taken to make the adobe. To the northeast,
at a distance of two or three hundred feet, are
the ruins of a circular inclosure. This was not large
enough for a corral; nor could it have been a well, as

[Figure] Ruins on the Salinas.

it is too near the margin of the plateau where the
canal ran, which would always furnish a supply of
water. At the south, two hundred yards distant, are
the remains of a small building with a portion of the
wall still standing.

From the summit of the principal heap, which is
elevated from twenty to twenty-five feet above the


plain, there may be seen in all directions similar heaps;
and about a mile to the east, I noticed a long range of
them running north and south, which the Indians said
were of a similar character to that on which we stood.
In every direction, the plain was strewn with broken
pottery, of which I gathered up some specimens to
show the quality, as well as the style, of ornamentation.
I also found several of the green stones resembling
amethysts which the Indians, after heavy rains,
come here in search of. They are highly prized by
them. All the early travellers in this country, from
Coronado, who crossed the Gila in 1540, to the present
time, have spoken of these so called amethysts. I
would have liked to make a further examination of
this plain; but our animals had no grass or other feed,
nor should we find any until we could reach the Gila,
twenty-five miles distant, which prevented me from
extending my examinations.

Mr. Leroux informed me that on the banks of the
San Francisco, are similar heaps to these, and other
ruins, the walls still standing. He thinks that the
buildings he has seen on that river, and others in the
Moqui and Navajo country, of three and four stories
in height, would, if in a ruined state, make similar
heaps to those under our notice. I am inclined to the
same opinion, and believe that the ruins we visited,
belonged to a building of several stories.

There is no doubt that this valley, as well as that
of the Verde and Gila Rivers, were once filled with a
dense population, far enough advanced in civilization
to build houses of several stories in height, surrounded
with regular outworks, and to irrigate their lands by


canals extending miles in length; but they seem to
have left no trace or tradition by which we can tell
who they were, or what was their fate. I made frequent
inquiries of the Pimos and Coco-Maricopas as to
the builders of these and the ruins on the Gila, but
could obtain no other than the ever-ready, Quien
These, as well as the ruins above the Pimo
villages are known among the Indians as the "houses of
Montezuma," an idea doubtless derived from the Mexicans,
rather than from any tradition of their own. We
asked our Indian guide, who Montezuma was. He
answered, "Nobody knows who the devil he was; all
we know is, that he built these houses."

After spending an hour here, we took a strongly
marked trail, which looked as though it had been
travelled for a century, and which led due south
towards the Pimo villages. There were other trails,
leading in various directions; showing that the plain
is much traversed, and the ruins often visited. We
journeyed rapidly over the plain, which was a portion
of the great plateau or desert. It was a perfect level
without an undulation. Not a hill or a ravine intercepted
our path. The vegetation was the same as
found on the plateau in our journey up the south side
of the Gila. Larrea and small mezquit bushes predominated;
while now and then the graceful petahaya
raised its tall head far above the dwarfish plants of the
desert, often startling us with its sudden appearance.
It was near midnight when we entered a thick grove
of mezquit, from whose branches were pendent large
quantities of the beans of which the mules are so fond.
As we had now travelled from twenty-three to twenty-five



miles from the Salinas, and did not know the distance
to the river, we concluded to stop here. We
accordingly hitched our mules by their long lariats to
these bushes, on which they could feed, and stretched
ourselves beneath their wide-spreading branches, to
get a little rest until daylight should again appear.

July 5th.

At half-past four, without waiting for
breakfast (for the reason that we had none to cook), we
resumed our journey, and in two miles reached the
Gila, or rather its bed; for it was dry here. As
we entered the first fields of the Pimos, the sentinels
in the outskirts, seeing us approach in long
single file, mistook us for Apaches and gave the
alarm accordingly; a very natural mistake, as no
party of emigrants or travellers had ever entered
their country from the north. We heard the alarm
given, and echoed in all voices, from one tree or
house-top to the other, until it reached their villages.
"Apaches! Apaches!" was the cry from every mouth;
and when it reached the first village, it was borne
onward to every part of the community, even to their
allies the Maricopas. The two Indian guides who
were with us, discovered the stampede we had so unintentionally
caused among their Pimo brethren, and
seemed to enjoy the joke much. In a few minutes we
saw the Pimos mounted, bounding towards us in every
direction, armed and ready for the contest; others, on
foot with their bows and arrows, came streaming after
them; and in a short time, the foremost horseman,
who was doubtless striving to take the first Apache
scalp and bear it as a trophy to his people, reigned his
steed before us. As he and those about him, perceived


their mistake, they all burst into a hearty laugh, which
was joined in by the rest as they came up. Assembling
around our two Maricopas, they learnt the particulars
of our visit to the Salinas. They then all
wheeled around; and while a portion acted as our
escort to their villages, others fell behind and brought
up the rear, so that our entry was that of a grand
cavalcade. At 8 o'clock, we reached our place of
encampment, having travelled fourteen miles.

In the afternoon, Lieutenant Whipple and his party
arrived. They had completed the survey of the Gila,
a labor at this season of the year, with the heat at from
100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, attended with no small

June 6th.

As the notes of this survey, and the
accompanying astronomical observations, had been
obtained with great labor and some suffering. I felt
unwilling to expose them to the risk of being lost in
a journey across the continent; and, accordingly,
determined to remain here a few days longer, to give
Lieutenant Whipple an opportunity to duplicate them
with the view of sending them back by a messenger
to Major Heintzelman, at Fort Yuma, to be forwarded
by him to the Secretary of the Interior at Washington.

A brisk trade was carried on to-day with the Coco-Maricopas
for corn, beans, meal, pinole, and squashes, as
well as for the various articles of their manufacture,
such as pottery, cotton blankets, baskets, &c. I gave
the trading department into Mr. Thurber's hands, finding
it would be better managed by one person. He
fitted up his tent for the purpose and made such a display


of goods as was never beheld before in this community.
I also told Francisco, the chief before mentioned,
to invite all the chiefs or captains as he called them,
of his tribe to come in, and I would make each of
them a present of such articles as I had to give. Five,
accordingly, presented themselves, and to each of
them I gave shirts, a few yards of cotton cloth, some
vermillion, beads, trinkets, etc.; with all which they
seemed greatly pleased. I told them that these things
were in return for the friendship shown, and the assistance
they had given to the poor American emigrants
who had passed through their country, and that they
must continue to aid them when in their power to do
so. I added that they would then be considered as
the true friends of the Americans, and would be
rewarded accordingly; furthermore, that the Americans
might be induced to establish a garrison near
them, which would protect them and prevent all future
attacks from the Apaches.

It was on this occasion, that I gave Francisco so
many things, for which he seemed so ungrateful. I
found too, that he had told his people to advance the
price of their corn, and other things; which made this
day's bartering the end of our trade. I felt quite indifferent
on the subject, as it was my intention to remove
the camp to the villages of the Pimos; for Mr. Leroux
had ascertained that they were much better supplied
with corn and every other commodity than the Coco-Maricopas,
and were very desirous that we should
divide our time with them for the purpose of trading.

A few Indians of a nearly extinct tribe called the
Cawinas, were in camp to-day. Only ten of this tribe


remain, who are living among the Pimos and Coco-Maricopas.
Their former dwelling-place was on the
Gila towards the Colorado. There they were brought
in contact with the Yumas; and in the constant wars
that existed between them and the Cawinas, they were
all exterminated, except the small number which had
taken refuge here. They speak a language different
from the Pimos and Maricopas, and I could find but
one man among the latter who understood it. He
promised to come and give me the vocabulary, but
did not again make his appearance.

July 8th.

After breakfast this morning, we struck
our tents, and bade farewell to our Maricopa friends,
among whom we had been ten days, with many regrets.
From the first day of our arrival, they had thronged our
camp both day and night; and I am not aware that
they ever took an article that did not belong to them,
nor had there been any difficulty between us, except
their trying to overreach us in trade. But this did
not interrupt our friendship, or prevent me from treating
them all with kindness. In their intercourse with
the whites, they are a docile and inoffensive people;
but they exhibit the same cruelty as other Indians,
towards those of their red brethren with whom they
are at war. They still have occasional fights with the
Yumas and the Apaches; and should any prisoner fall
into their hands, they would delight, as much as the
Apaches do, in putting him to the torture.

Last winter, while Dr. Webb and his party were
here, they saw an example of this. It appears that
when Captain Ximenes, with the Mexican Commission,
was at the Colorado, they induced an intelligent Yuma


to return with them. On passing through the villages
of the Coco-Maricopas, notwithstanding every effort
of the Captain to conceal this man, they discovered
him, and by stratagem, got possession of him. The
party endeavored to effect his release; but they had
not force enough to compel his captors to surrender
him, and no presents would induce them to do so. He
was put to the torture; and Dr. Webb and the other
gentlemen of the U. S. Commission, were invited to
join the Maricopas, in the festivities and dances on the

[Figure] Group of Pimo Indians.

As we rode through the villages, we saw the people


engaged in their various occupations. The women
were generally at work grinding their corn or wheat.
The children were squatting or lying in the shade,
doing nothing. The cradle was suspended by a cord
to the roof and kept swinging by the husband, who lay
stretched at length on his back, or by the children.
In these communities, there are men who labor in the
fields, while others lounge about the villages doing
nothing. They seem to have their dandies and gentlemen
of leisure, as well as their more civilized brethren.
The women, too, were carrying water on their
heads, or transporting other things in the sprawling
frames upon their backs.

At noon, having journeyed about twelve miles
through these villages and cultivated fields, we reached
a spot near an acequia, where there was grass, and a
pleasant grove of mezquit trees. Here we pitched
our tents, intending to remain a few days.

We had scarcely got our camp in order, when we
were surrounded by the Pimos. I sent a messenger to
inform their head chief Gola Azul (blue tail) who was
at work in the fields, that I would be glad to see him.
In a short time he appeared, accompanied by his interpreter
Tu-maams. Although it was a dreadfully hot
day, when we felt like divesting ourselves of as much
clothing as possible, Cola Azul appeared in a large blue
blanket overcoat, pantaloons, and a green felt hat,
while his attendants were either naked, or wore around
their loins the white cotton blanket of their own manufacture.
He at once presented me a number of credentials
from various American officers, and others,
who had passed here, and held intercourse with him



and his tribe—setting forth that he was the head chief,
that his people were friendly to the Americans, and
requesting all should respect them and treat them
kindly. The earliest of these, was from Colonel St.
George Cooke. This chief was about 50 years of age,
with a fine, amiable expression of countenance, and a
quiet and dignified manner. He was greatly beloved
by his people, who showed him more deference than