Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)

Lt 18, 1873

White, J. E.; White, Emma


December 27, 1873

This letter is published in entirety in 11MR 125-127.

Dear Children, Edson and Emma:

We have been passing over the plains, through a very barren, desolate looking country. Nothing of special interest to be seen but a few herds of buffalo in the distance and an antelope now and then. 2LtMs, Lt 18, 1873, par. 1

The scenery over the plains has been uninteresting. Our curiosity is excited somewhat in seeing mud cabins, adobe houses and sagebrushes in abundance. But on we go. From Cheyenne the engines toiled up, up the summit against the most fearful wind. Two iron horses are slowly dragging the cars up the mountain to Sherman. Fears are expressed of danger, because of the wind, in crossing the Dale Creek bridge—650 feet long and 126 feet high—spanning 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 in regard to the tempest of wind, so fierce that we fear the cars may be blown from the track. 2LtMs, Lt 18, 1873, par. 2

In the providence of God the wind decreased. Its terrible wail is subdued to pitiful sobs and sighs, and we passed safely over the dreaded bridge. We reached the summit. The extra engine was removed. We are upon an elevation of 7,857 feet. No steam is required at this point to forward the train, for the downgrade is sufficient for us to glide swiftly along. 2LtMs, Lt 18, 1873, par. 3

As we pass on, down an embankment we see the ruins of a freight car that had been thrown from the track. Men were actively at work upon the shattered cars. We are told that the freight train broke through the bridge one week ago. Two hours behind this unfortunate train came the passenger cars. Had this accident happened to them, many lives must have been lost. 2LtMs, Lt 18, 1873, par. 4

As we near Ogden the scenery becomes more interesting than the sagebrush, dugouts, and mud cabins. There are grand, high mountains towering toward heaven, while these are interspersed with mountains of lesser size. As far as the eye can see them, mountain tops rise above mountains, peak above peak, ridge on ridge, intermingled, while the snow-capped heights glitter under the rays of sunlight, looking surpassingly lovely. 2LtMs, Lt 18, 1873, par. 5

As we looked at the varying beauty of this Rocky Mountain scenery, we were deeply impressed with the greatness and majesty of God. We long 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 majesty around us is all we can enjoy. 2LtMs, Lt 18, 1873, par. 6

Between Ogden and Sacramento the eye is constantly delighted with the wonderful scenery. Mountains of every conceivable form and dimension appear. Some are smooth and regular in shape, while others are rough, huge, granite mountains, their peaks stretching heavenward as though pointing upward to the God of nature. There are blocks of smooth, timeworn rock, piled one above another, looking as though squared and chiseled by instruments in skillful hands. There are high overhanging cliffs, gray old crags and gorges clad with pines, continually presenting to our senses scenery of new interest. 2LtMs, Lt 18, 1873, par. 7

We come to the Devil’s Slide. There are flat rocks set up like gravestones of nearly equal depth running from the river up the mountainside far above us a quarter of a mile, which mountain is covered with grass and shrubs. The stones are from fifty to two hundred feet high, standing upon their edge as though malletted into the rocky mountain. There are two stone walls about ten feet apart of this masonry. The space between is covered with green foliage. It is a most interesting and wonderful sight. 2LtMs, Lt 18, 1873, par. 8