1st. Today the road was alternately good and bad. During the last few days we have seen no more buffaloes, but many small birds that look like sparrows. They were here in such large numbers, that often the road was full of them, as if it had been sown with them. They were so bold that we could strike at them with sticks, and they would eat bread crumbs from an outstretched hand. We met 8 riders on mules who were coming from California. They sang the song "Schleswig Holstein." I joined in with them, and when they heard that I was a Schleswiger, I had to join them in a toast to the city of Schleswig. Five of them had served throughout the war. They had at first been with the W.D. Flag Corps, and later on with the 3rd corps of sharp shooters. They were Bavarians and Saxons, and well known in the city of Schleswig.
2nd. Today I had a great deal of trouble with my wife on account of the tailor, F. Lau. The old love affair seems to have started all over again. Otherwise the day passed without experiencing anything unusual. In the evening we had thunder and lightning, and we reached our camping ground wet to the skin.
3rd. For some days an Englishman who was traveling with us had been telling me there must be a strange stone or rock in this region. In England he had seen such a stone in a panorama. This morning we saw it in the distance, 6 miles away, and this afternoon we got quite close to it, stopped and looked it over. It was silver white where the sun was shining on it, and on the side that was in the shade it was a black as coal. The base of the stone is round like a circle, and its top pointed. It is probably 40 yards in diameter, and is about 40 yards high. On the stone are to be seen many different figures, such as men with weapons or large clubs in their hands, animals of all kinds, ships, fruit trees with fruit on them, forests, wagons, herdsmen, drovers and many others. It is said that no human hand ever worked on it, but that it is a work of nature. Nevertheless it is easy to make out. Travelers have written their names on it, and I did the same. Here one may read names that are over 100 years old, at least the year given is that old. From here one can see a rather high mountain, or rock, that looks like a church with a high steeple, and whoever does not know that such a building is not to be found here, will undoubtedly take it for a church. Today an ox ran away from us, and we did not get it.
4th. This morning I had a serious quarrel with my wife on account of the abominable tailor, who is again in great favor with her. We passed by the mountain at close range. It was a tall, rocky peak, standing by itself. On it stood a solid piece of rock, probably 30 yards high, about 12 yards in diameter at the base, and somewhat pointed at the top. At the bottom of the mounting was a cave in which there was room for about 50 people. Here also many travelers had written their names. Close to this mountain were 7 graves with the remains of emigrants, with name and birthplace attached. 6 of them were Danes, and the 7th a Berliner. During the afternoon we were still traveling in the mountains. Towards evening we again approached the river, and here we camped. Here lived a trader and 6 Indian families. Late at night I again had a quarrel with my wife on account of the tailor, and I beat him so his eyes were blackened and his right arm lamed.
5th. This morning the tailor's eyes were swollen shut, and his arm still lies lame. Another man had to drive the wagon. The Indians obtained a sick ox from us and butchered it immediately. Before long the road again led into the mountains where we remained all day. We were practically driving constantly through a deep but dry canyon. We saw many deer, antelopes and large snakes, of which latter we killed many. Here rabbits run about in large numbers. Evening came on, and we were obliged to find a camping place in the mountains for the night. We could find no water, but did so in another canyon that was at least 100 yards deeper, that the one through we were traveling. We stayed near the latter. We had to carry our drinking water up above, while the cattle had to drink down below, and that was quite troublesome. There was practically no grass at all. As we were sitting down eating, we heard the growling of bears. Immediately, large fires were built at different places around the camp, and the watches were doubled. The growling came closer to the oxen, most of which were by themselves, lying down. They now jumped to their feet, and ran frantically back and forth. The crew of watchmen also ran out, except for 2 who had the good fortune to shoot a bear, but we did not venture toward it. The oxen did not run very far, and got together again themselves.
6th. It had hardly become day when a bear was heard again. The oxen ran back and forth among themselves, and several ran straight in the direction of the growling. Three of our people pursued the animal, and soon shot a female bear that had a cub with her. All 3 shot at the female bear simultaneously and made a good hit; but still she ran away from them. One of the men pursued her, but now she turned about furious with rage. The man would have been killed had not the two others rushed to his aid. Now the female bear was shot and killed, and so was one of our oxen. Both were being butchered and the best of the meat taken along. We caught the young bear, which was as large as a sheep, and took him with us alive. Our night quarters were terrible to look at. They were in a deep canyon underneath high rocks, and furthermore we were surrounded by wild animals that constantly howled and growled round about. We could only sleep a little, but we suffered nothing from the animals except fear. As we were getting the oxen together again, we also found the other bear of yesterday. It had been hit by 2 shots and was still alive. But now it was killed. The journey continued through the canyon. There soon came an end to the deep canyon, however. The mountains swung more to the left, and we came out upon level. But this did not last long, and again we had a canyon on both sides. The level land grew continually narrower, and finally it became so narrow that a wagon could hardly drive along it. This kept on for 3 hours, and although we exerted the greatest care, we were often exposed to danger and were often afraid. I saw some white wolves in this canyon. We came out of the mountains late at night, encountered a small creek and stopped there. This evening the entire party ate fried bear meat and it had an excellent taste.
7th. During the night we were once again awakened by bears, but we did not see any of them. We forded the stream, and after 2 hours of traveling were again on the Platriffer and at the same time close to the mountains, and now the road continued between two ranges of mountains. The road was sandy and difficult for travel. We had thunder and lightning, accompanied by violent rain. (it does not rain as violently as that in Germany.) There such a rainstorm would be called a cloudburst. In the region where we are now traveling such weather is not unusual, and as there was no grass to be found, we only reached our camping ground by 10 o'clock, wet to the skin. Today the tailor again drove his wagon himself.
8th. At this place the country is very romantic. We see continually around about us, mountains, forest, level land and water. We only traveled 4 miles today; then we came upon a smithy and some Indians' cabins. As both wagons and chains had suffered considerable damage, we stayed here to have the repair work done. 3 times today we encountered thunderstorms.
9th. Today the work was completed at noon, and we traveled on. The mountains swing more to the left. The road lay near the river on a green plain. We saw several graves with the remains of emigrants. The names and birthplaces of the deceased were attached to the graves. We met 19 wagons drawn by mules and some riders, all coming from California. This evening we stopped at a place which, seen from the outside, one would take for a man made garden. Here are fruit trees, grape vines, and many beautiful flowers. Among the latter I counted 8 different kinds of Cactus, all in the most beautiful bloom. The place was 1 mile long and 1/2 mile wide, and it was located between the road and river.
10th. The camping ground was beautiful, but the mosquitoes allowed us little peace. To begin with the trail went along a mountain range. Many Indians live in this region. Some of them had decent houses, but most of them had only huts of buffalo hides. They raise cattle and many have horses, oxen and cows which they send to California, and which they also sell and barter away to travelers. In the afternoon we again came out of the mountains and stopped at Fort Larome. It is a small fort, occupied by 3-400 soldiers for the protection of travelers. On 3 sides the fort is a broad stream across which a bridge leads to the fort. The road goes right by the fort, and we stopped here to buy some provisions.
11th. About two weeks ago a train of Danish Mormons passed through here, who had been attacked by Indians. They had stolen 2 oxens from the Danes, and in the ensuing fight 3 Danes had been killed. The commander of the fort was notified of this, and in order to protect the Danes and get the oxen back he gave orders for his soldiers, to march and attack the Indians. The chief who knew nothing about the stealing of the oxen and the fight, now came and offered to pay for the oxen that had disappeared. But the commander was not satisfied with this, and while the Danes were in flight, he gave orders to attack. The Indians beat the soldiers into retreat, however, forced their way into the fort, burned it to the ground, and stole and plundered everything they could carry with them. 27 soldiers were slain and 59 wounded. As against this, only 13 Indians were killed or wounded. The Danes were overtaken by the Indians that same night, and of their own accord had to part with 6 cows and 4 oxen. We wanted to buy some provisions, but their were none to be had in the fort. This morning 3 of our oxen drowned in the river. We were once more traveling in the mountains, and soon had to descend a steep mountain. This made all of us afraid, but nevertheless, the descent was carried out rather well and only a few minor things broke. At this point 9 Indians accosted us like wild animals, and tried to drive 2 of our oxen away. They got some buckshot in the legs, and this made them run. Later on we met Indians of whom some were trades and artisans, namely blacksmiths and wheel wrights.
At about a good gun shot from the trail we saw 5 bears that stood still and gazed at us wonderingly. We did likewise and no further acquaintance was attempted from either side. Now we came out of the mountains, and for a short while were in a valley. Then we came close to the Rougomaens' mountains which begin at this point. We will be in or near these mountains until we reach the Salt Valley. The highest mountains we saw in this range, were on the opposite side of the river and were all covered with snow. Late at night, it was probably around 11 o'clock, we again reached the river and made camp near a high mountain wall.
12th. These rocky peaks were the highest I have seen so far, some of them reaching above the clouds and out of sight. The region around was very romantic. During the night we were often awakened by wolves. The night watchmen also heard the sounds of bears; but the bears retreated as soon as they saw the fire. We left and drove right into the mountains. The first mountain kept on continuously for 2 hours, and we had not gone very far when, while descending the mountains, the tongue and the fore-axle tree on one of the wagons broke. The rest of the wagons drove into the valley, and here we had to remain. We were surrounded by high mountains. I climbed one of them and must admit, that a region such as this, also has its pleasant side. On the summit of this mountain was a spring out of which gushed water that was quite hot.
13th. The wagon was repaired during the night, and the journey continued at an early hour. We traveled constantly in the mountains, and although we came across some high mountains we had no mishaps today, for the trail was still good. Today we encountered a violent thunderstorm, and had thunder and lightning all day long. In the mountains where the thunder often causes a three fold echo, it is much more terrible to listen to than on level land. Here in the mountains we also came across graves with the remains of emigrants. We camped in a mountain ravine.
14th. Although a mountain ravine is not a good place in which to camp, we nevertheless slept undisturbed during the night. The journey today was fraught with many difficulties, as we were obliged to travel through deep ravines. Every thing went well until noon, when a wagon turned over due to careless driving. It was loaded with an expensive machine, but while the wagon remained unharmed, 200 Dollars could not pay for the damage done to the machine. Twice during the day we came quite close to Platriffer. As far as we could see, the country along the river was still beautiful, and it left us with a beautiful memory of similar regions we had passed through earlier in our journey. The wagon was soon righted again and re-loaded. We now traveled over a good road, and for a distance of 6 miles were going down hill. In the evening we had the pleasure not only of seeing the Plat-river; but of sleeping on its bank.
15th. We traveled for a short time in the valley and along the river. Then we again came into the mountains, and drove continually between high ranges whose peaks were frequently out of sight. The road was good all day. Once more we had to climb, and in order to get up on this particular mountain, 24 oxen had to be yoked to each wagon, and this caused the breaking of several chains. In the evening we could find neither grass nor water. My wife and my 2 daughters were ill. A Frenchman and I went into the mountains to look for water, and found it. When we were on our way back, it had become dark, and we could not find the camping place again. Our traveling companions were worried about our lengthy absence, fired signal shots towards which we set our course. Otherwise we would not have been able to find the camping ground, and would have had to spend the night alone.
16th. We had a terrible storm last night. We had camped on a hillock where the wind could take good hold of us. Tents blew over, tops were torn from the wagons and beds, clothes, eating and drinking utensils, everything blew away, and in the morning we had trouble finding these again. Our oxen too became restless and thirsty, and had wandered off 3-4 miles from camp. We got a late start, but now had the advantage that everybody could supply himself with water whenever he wanted it. Otherwise we would have gone thirsty until evening, for up to that time we had found no water. We saw 15 graves with the remains of emigrants, and to some of them were attached names and birth places of the deceased. 4 of them were from Lubeck. Our camping ground today might be called a garden. Here were fruit trees, good grass and water and beautiful flowers, but there was no dearth of wolves either.
17th. Today we came to a stream on the banks of which lived many Indians; but we saw nothing except old men, women and children. The young men had all gone to war. But these old and young people too were extremely pugnacious and quarrelsome. We rested for a short while in their vicinity, and soon had more than 100 around us. We gave them something to eat; but they also demanded gunpowder, woolen blankets, clothes and an ox, and as our leader refused to give them this they fetched their bows and arrows, and threatened us with force. They sent some arrows after us, threw stones and accompanied this by terrible screams and howls. Three of us were slightly wounded. Now our leader told 2 of our drivers to fire at them with small shot. They did this, and about 20 of the Indians were hit. Screaming terribly they immediately threw themselves on the ground, and the rest ran away screaming in the same manner. It was fortunate for us that the young warriors were not against us, otherwise we would have faired badly. We drove on without being pursued. I saw that 4 old Indians were pursuing 2 deer. They were riding on ponies that ran just as fast up the mountain side as the deer. Towards evening we came across several swampy places along the trail. In one of these swampy places where tall reeds were growing, we saw 2 snakes, at least 16 feet in length. Several shots were fired at them. We drove on, however, without seeing to it if any of them had been hit. Late at night we found a good place for camping along the same stream. Here it was swampy too, and it was alive with snakes.
18th. We slept extremely well during the night. There are not so many mosquitoes any more, as the nights are very cold, and we have long ago become accustomed to the howling of the wolves. Our cattle had sufficient grass and water.
Camp was close to a high marble cliff that was truly magnificent to behold. We met a caravan of 16 wagons coming from California, and saw many empty Indian tents, all covered with buffalo hides. Today we drove 17 miles over 3 mountains. We came upon the river at an early hour, and camped close to it in a small forest through which a narrow stream meandered.
19th. Even before we departed this morning, 24 riders on mules came up to us, and 14 other mules were loaded with provisions and luggage. The small forest in which we had camped last night consisted only of ash trees and poplars, that were very tall and beautiful in appearance. There were many snakes in the forest, of which some seemed to be very vicious. We again traveled in the mountains, but on level land, and had a stream alongside of us. We often had to pass through deep ravines that caused many chains to be broken. Saw many wolves, deer and antelopes, also some large snakes of which 3 were shot dead. They were about 8 feet long, with black and yellow markings. We spent the night near the stream. Near camp was the final resting place of several emigrants. Some of the graves were still new, and were supplied with name and birthplace.
20th. During the night our young bear was gored to death by an ox. This morning I had a quarrel with the tailor mentioned before, and pushed him into the creek. He would perhaps have drowned, if I had not pulled him out again. I pulled him ashore by the legs which caused his nose to bleed. We left at an early hour and after some hours traveling came out of the mountains and reached the river along which we journeyed all day. Today in the valley we encountered deep ravines, however, and had to yoke from 16-20 oxen to each wagon in order to get through. We met 6 wagons with missionaries from Salt Valley, who were on their way to Germany, also some riders on mules accompanied by Mexican Indians. Towards evening we met some Indians whose colony lay 4 miles to one side of us. They were not as brown as were those we had formerly seen, but a very dark brown. Our leader said that this tribe is the most brutal of all tribes in this region, and that it numbered about 3000 warlike men, called Souis. I think these may rightfully be called savages. Most all of the Indians are savages, but in this respect these seem to be ahead of all the others I have seen. They hardly look like human beings. Men, women and children run about quite naked, and many of them have not even the abdomen covered. Their hair was of unusual length, and the women and girls let it hang loose down their backs, like the tail of a horse. Practically all of them, even small children, wore rings in their noses and ears. Some of the men carried guns, and besides this, all of them, even the women and children, were armed with bow and arrow. They came running towards us, screaming and yelling loudly, like wild animals, and made us understand they wanted something to eat. They were given bread, as long as we still had a piece left, and I cannot say that we suffered any harm. Perhaps their ranks were no sufficiently close, and our people had taken to their guns. The Indians had many ponies and these too were to some extinct wild, and never before in Europe or in America have I seen a human being jump on a horse running at full speed, as did these naked savages, and this without saddle and bridle either. We drove 4 more miles and camped. Late in the evening 12 riders and 5 wagons came up to us and camped in our company.
21st. The night watch was doubled, but we slept rather well. Only wolves and mosquitoes disturbed us at intervals. In the morning some of the oxen were gone. We thought the Indians had stolen them, but after a long search found them among some bushes. We were late in getting away, and after 4 hours of traveling came close to a river. We stayed there for a short while, and then were obliged to cross it. This crossing was very difficult. It is true the river was not deep, but it was half a mile wide, and the bottom was bad. 26 oxen had to be yoked to each wagon. The fore axle tree on one wagon broke in the middle of the river. The wagon remained standing until the others had come across, and it was then unloaded and hauled back. Many chains were broken, also. When the wagons were all across, the sun set and we stayed where we were. The axle was repaired in the evening.
22nd. The day began with bickering and quarreling with my wife, because I would not have the tailor in my tent, and she voiced the most terrible threats. Again the trail ran uphill, and this lasted 3 hours. After that we traveled on high, level ground. The region on this side of the river seemed to us to be quite desert like. Today we saw practically no bushes or any thing else that was green. But we saw very many high mountains covered with snow. We met 5 riders on mules, and soon afterwards 4 wild Indians on ponies. It seemed as if they were pursuing the riders. In this desolate region we came across a rather good place for cattle, and for this reason turned in at an early hour.
23rd. As yesterday the trail continued on high ground. Sometimes we had to go through deep ravines, but they were dry. In the afternoon we drove for a short while over a small mountain. Towards evening we saw black steam rising out of the ground ahead of us. In the desert we found a place where there was water but no grass, we stopped there, however, as water was difficult to find. As the spot where steam arose seemed to be green, the cattle were driven aside to the place. They had hardly gotten there, when we saw an ox sink into the ground. We made efforts to pull it out, but in vain, we noticed that the entire region was swampy and treacherous. The firm soil was not even a foot thick. We hurried along to drive the others back, but before this could take place, close to 50 more were stuck in it. All of them except 4 worked themselves out, however. The 4 others remained stuck. The rising steam as well as the swamps, smell like sulphurous exhalations, as proof that the soil was full of sulphur which kept burning in the ground. Here too it has probably been burning, and the swamp that had remained behind, looked like potach.
24th. This morning we drove straight over a mountain. The journey was difficult, and was often perilous for ourselves and the cattle. We came across a green spot along the trail. Many loose oxen rushed towards it, and 3 of them immediately became submerged. We pulled them out again with much effort, but in extracting them, 2 of our people almost lost their lives. These two sunk into the swamp up to their necks. Along the trail we saw some dead oxen, the wolves had gnawed at and partly devoured, and we saw many wolves, deer and antelopes. Geese and ducks were also found in these swamps, and we shot some of them. We camped near the trail, but on account of the many swamps, the cattle were herded farther up into the mountains. Here flowed a clear stream, and there was also some grass. Up until now we had been having good water. In the daytime it was often very warm, and now and then nights were somewhat cold and stormy.
25th. As we were yoking up this morning, 54 oxen were missing. The night watchmen had apparently been asleep. We thought the oxen had been stolen, as there was an Indian colony nor far from where we camped. All of us had to go out and search. Twenty men went to the colony, but did not find any. Finally we discovered tracks, and saw that the oxen had gone back. We found 25 in a ravine, and late at night a man on horseback rode up and told us, that the rest had been picked up by a caravan that had met us this morning, and that he too belonged to the caravan. We had a great deal of pleasure while searching for the oxen. We climbed some high mountains from which there was a beautiful view of valleys and streams. We also saw 2 Indian colonies in the mountains, about 14 miles from where we were.
26th. Early in the morning 3 wagons with emigrants came up to us. They were on their way to California, and had about 300 oxen with them. A little later came the Mormon train, consisting of 43 wagons. They brought our oxen with them, and now only three were missing, but these were never found again. We traveled on in the company of this train. We soon came out of the mountains, and now had to travel on a difficult and sandy trail. We had to drive through deep ravines and across several mountains. Towards evening we came into a beautiful valley, where a clear stream was flowing, called Shewitriffer, "sweet stream." Here we remained, and the other train having camped earlier than we did.
27th. During the night 4 people died in the other wagon train, and this morning we helped bury them. We then waited till the train came up to us, and again traveled on together. The trail continued through the valley and along the river. After an hour had passed, we came upon a house with a grocery store and tavern. Here a bridge had been built across the stream. An hour later we came upon more houses. In one of them was a store and a saloon, and in the others lived artisans and farmers. Some miles farther on was another house with a store and saloon. Here a bridge was built across the river. The country along the stream was exceedingly beautiful and fertile. The residents raise cattle. In these parts one sees great herds of horses, oxen and cows. The settlers take the cows to California, and sell or batter them to travelers. Here one can barter away lame oxen or horses. The settlers pay practically nothing for the land. They take as much as they want for their own use, and yet, not one hundredth part of it is brought under cultivation. When we had come across the river, we came into the mountains, and here we came up to a house where we met 60 oxen, a wagon with provisions and 3 young men who had been sent out from Salt Valley to meet us with this load. We left our lame oxen behind at this point, and in their place took with us 30 of this fresh lot. The remainder were left behind for the use of William's wagon train, that was coming up later on.
Here too flowed the Sweet River, and it flowed close under a high mountain. It was possible to get through the canyon alongside the river. In the middle of the canyon was a waterfall about 100 feet high. The water, and the echo thereof made so loud a noise, that one could not remain in the canyon for 10 minutes at a time. We drove another 2 miles along the stream and camped. The other train went ahead of us.
28th. Certain repairs had to be made on some of our wagons, and for this reason we were late in getting away. The trail continued through a ravine, and passed between high mountains. Until evening we had the stream on one side of us. It continued beneath a cliff and disappeared. From the canyon, we came out on level ground, but the soil was sandy.
Again, we came upon a small stream and made camp. Today I saw numerous graves with the remains of emigrants. There were also many dead oxen along the trail; but most of them had already been devoured by wolves.
29th. The journey was continued at an early hour. The river was still on one side of us. Otherwise we saw naught about us but the high mountains, desert and bands of wild animals. Most of the latter were wolves, that run around in these parts in packs of hundreds. In the heart of this desert was a spring out of which streamed very hot water. This region is rightfully called a desert, for frequently we did not see as much as a handful of green grass for an hour at a time. We had to make camp early, so that the cattle could satisfy their hunger to some extent. The drinking water was the only good thing we had here. Our fuel consisted of excrements of oxen and dry weeds.
30th. To begin with we drove right through the river; not straight across, however, but in it, lengthwise, for about half a mile. Mountain walls were on both sides. The one to the right was the highest, and never had I seen such a high and steep mountain as this. We had hardly come in between them, when it became as dark as the darkest night. The water was not deep, and the ground was firm but somewhat stony. We came through without mishaps. Half an hour later we drove through the same canyon once more. And here we again met with the other wagon train. The trail continued through the desert, where nothing grew except some heather. We came across a high mountain, and were able to see for many miles in all directions. As far as the eye could reach, there was nothing to be seen but desert and high mountains covered with snow. We came across 9 graves with the remains of emigrants, and today counted 36 dead oxen along the trail. They had probably not been dead a long time, but had already been gnawed at by wolves. We found a rather good place where we stayed. The other wagon train drove some distance farther.
Crossing the Plains of Nebraska, C.C.A. Christensen, no date.