Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)

Lt 26, 1872

White, J. E.; White, Emma

On the cars from Denver to California

September 23, 1872

This letter is published in entirety in 11MR 117-119.

Dear Children, Edson and Emma:

We have been slowly climbing the ascent with two engines drawing the train. We are upon the summit. One engine has been run off. We are now descending. We are eight thousand feet above the level of the sea. We are one hundred and thirty-some miles from Denver. The scenery is not charming. No farms or cultivated lands from Denver to Cheyenne. It was plains with nothing to relieve the monotony but large herds of cattle, two thousand or more in a herd. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1872, par. 1

Since we left Cheyenne the land is undulating at first, becoming more uneven and the land broken. There are scattering evergreens, scraggy and stunted, apparently growing out of the crevices of the rock. There are large boulders; they seem as regular as if they had been laid by the hand of a mason workman. We have passed five deep cuts covered with a roof [so] that travelers shall not become snowbound. The soil is gravelly sand. Rocks seem to be congealed sand and gravel of a red cast. We have just passed a small house down among the rocks. Among the rocks are little patches of cultivated land. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1872, par. 2

Rocks, rocks everywhere, bearing the appearance of great age. Rocks cast up like fortifications seem as though placed by a workman. I see at this moment immense rocks of singular shape composed of sand and coarse gravel. We are just viewing a shanty. The chimney is topped with a barrel. The door is open and the white heads of four small children are brought to view. No sign of cultivations anywhere in this view. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1872, par. 3

We now leave the rocks and hills behind. The land is more like a plain. In some places four rows of fences are built to protect the roads from drifting snows. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1872, par. 4

Half past four. It is now snowing slowly. It has been quite pleasant all day, not uncomfortably warm or cold. We are now at Red Buttes; elevation 7,336 feet. Castles of rocks and pyramids of rocks of every conceivable shape. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1872, par. 5

A train just passed with two engines, one with six drive wheels, the other with eight. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1872, par. 6

Tuesday morning, September 24, 1872

On the cars. We all were accommodated with berths on the sleeping cars and we rested very well. Took our breakfast this morning with good appetites. A lady named Hafenway spoke to me in the sleeping cars. I think she had heard me, also your father, speak at the Health Institute. She was there when Mrs. Baker left for her home. We had an interesting interview. She is going to California for her health. Her sister is in a precarious condition. She has had hemorrhage of the lungs. Mrs. Hafenway is a banker’s wife in Nebraska. She says she was benefited at the Health Institute, but home cares, the charge of three children, keep her debilitated. She says she shall live out of doors the most of the time this winter when not too cold. The climate of Nebraska is varying and changeable. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1872, par. 7

We have just passed a mud village, houses made of mud smoothes so nicely they really looked nice, so nice. We thought them now in process of building, but we learned it was an old settlement left to decay. The village was moved to another section of this barren waste country. We have now passed a village of houses composed of mud, wood, and cloth. Many roofs are covered with cloth and mud placed on the top of cloth. No trees are to be seen anywhere. No cultivated lands. In these villages the railroad men reside. Nothing can be raised here. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1872, par. 8

P.S. We have been on the cars since eight o’clock a.m. It is now four o’clock. Sherman Station: This summit is the highest in the world. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1872, par. 9