Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 20, 1873

White, J. E.; White, Emma

Between Ogden and Sacramento

December 27, 1873

This letter is published in entirety in 10MR 377-378.

Dear Children, Edson and Emma:

We have been passing over the plains through a very barren, desolate looking country. Nothing of special interest is to be seen, but a few herds of buffaloes in the distance and an antelope now and then. Mud cabins, adobe houses, and sagebrush we see in abundance everywhere. But on we go. 2LtMs, Lt 20, 1873, par. 1

From Cheyenne two engines are slowly dragging the cars up the mountain to Sherman, against a fearful wind, on account of which fears of danger are expressed in crossing Dale Creek bridge, 650 feet long and 120 feet high, which spans Dale Creek from bluff to bluff. This trestle bridge looks like a light, frail thing to bear so great weight. But fears are not expressed because of the frail appearance of the bridge, but that the tempest of wind will be so fierce as to blow the cars from the track. But in the providence of God the wind decreased. The terrible wail is subdued to pitiful sobs and signs, and we passed safely over the dreaded bridge. 2LtMs, Lt 20, 1873, par. 2

We at length reached the summit, 7,857 feet above the level of the sea, and the extra engine is removed. At this point no steam is required to forward the train, for the downgrade is sufficient to carry us swiftly along. As we pass on down an embankment, we see the ruins of a freight train, where men were busily at work upon the shattered cars. We are told it broke through the bridge one week ago, while two hours behind it came the express. Had the accident happened to them many lives must have been lost. 2LtMs, Lt 20, 1873, par. 3

As we near Ogden the scenery changes. Here is grandeur of scenery far more interesting than the plains give us in sagebrush, dugouts, and mud cabins. Here are grand mountains towering toward heaven, and mountains of lesser size. Mountaintops rise above mountaintops, peak above peak, ridge above ridge, while the snowcapped heights, glittering under the rays of sunlight look surpassingly lovely. We were deeply impressed as we looked at the varying beauty of this Rocky Mountain scenery. We longed to have a little time to view at leisure the grand and sublime scenery, which speaks to our senses of the power of God who made the world and all things that are therein. But a glance only at the wondrous, sublime beauty around us is all we can enjoy. 2LtMs, Lt 20, 1873, par. 4

Between Ogden and Sacramento the eye is constantly delighted with the ever new scenery. Mountains of every conceivable form and dimension appear. Some are smooth and regular in shape, whole others are rough, huge, granite mountains, their peaks stretching heavenward as though pointing up to the God of nature. 2LtMs, Lt 20, 1873, par. 5

There are blocks of timeworn rocks, piled one above another, looking smooth, as though squared and chiseled by instruments in skillful hands. There are high, overhanging cliffs, gray old crags, and gorges clad with pines, presenting to our senses scenery of new interest continually. 2LtMs, Lt 20, 1873, par. 6

We come to Devil’s Slide. Here are flat rocks set up like gravestones of nearly equal depth, running from the river up the mountainside a quarter of a mile above us. The stones are from fifty to one hundred feet high. 2LtMs, Lt 20, 1873, par. 7