Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 19, 1873

White, J. E.; White, Emma


December 27, 1873

This letter is published in entirety in 11MR 127-129.

Dear Children, Edson and Emma:

We have been passing over the plains, through a very barren, desolate looking country. Nothing of special interest, but a few herds of buffalo, occasionally an antelope. 2LtMs, Lt 19, 1873, par. 1

The scenery is uninteresting. Mud cabins, adobe houses, sagebrush in abundance, of a very strong flavor. But on we go and the engine toils up, up, up against the most fearful wind we ever experienced. It is all the two iron horses can do to drag the train slowly up the mountain. Fears are expressed that there is danger of crossing the bridge which spans Dale Creek from bluff to bluff. It is 650 feet long and 120 feet high. In the providence of God the wind decreased its fearful wail to a piteous sob and sigh and we went safely over. The summit is gained and now we pass through a tunnel excavated through the rocky mountain. We stop a short time for the second engine to be removed and then we pass along very pleasantly. 2LtMs, Lt 19, 1873, par. 2

We cross another bridge and down the embankment we see the shattered ruins of a freight train. We are told it broke through the bridge the week before. It was two hours in advance of the passenger cars. If the passenger cars had met with this disaster many lives might have been lost. As we near Ogden we have a change of scenery—something more grand than sagebrush, mud cabins, and dugouts. There are grand mountains and wonderful, towering mountains of masonry, filling our hearts with awe and wonder. Gladly would we linger and view more definitely and fully the different, wonderful, varying scenes presented to the senses; but on, on steadily moves the iron horse giving us but a glance at the wonderful works of God in nature. 2LtMs, Lt 19, 1873, par. 3

I hesitate whether to place my pen upon paper to give you even the faintest, slightest description of the wild, romantic scenery of the Rocky Mountains. Immense mountain tops rise above mountains. Some mountains of lesser dimensions are wavy and appear smooth and regular in shape. Mountains of masonry have the appearance of being hewed, squared, chiseled, and polished by art and piled one above another in grand towers, stretching upward toward heaven as though directing the minds of all who look upon them to God. 2LtMs, Lt 19, 1873, par. 4

Then we see abrupt bluffs and singular shaped rocks of every form, huge and without comeliness, having the appearance as though thrown together in most beautiful disorder. We come to a wall of rocks, flat and broad as though chiseled from the quarry and arranged by art, one flat stone overlapping another, two walls almost exactly similar about six feet apart running straight up the steep sides of the Rocky Mountains for one quarter of a mile. This strange piece of masonry is called the Devil’s Slide. 2LtMs, Lt 19, 1873, par. 5

But I become discouraged at the poor efforts I have made in describing the scenery of nature. 2LtMs, Lt 19, 1873, par. 6

Some of the mountains are interspersed with dwarfed and stunted evergreens. 2LtMs, Lt 19, 1873, par. 7