Our Family History

Discovering Our Roots

This book contains the interesting story, "ACROSS THE PLAINS" experienced, as written, in diary form, by Pioneer P. H. Murphy, in the year 1854,

"Covered Wagon Days"

This copy was made by his daughter, Corda L. Murphy, and presented to her brother,

Ralph I. Murphy in the year 1938

Across the Plains

On April 11, 1854 - I bid adieu to St. Louis and departed for California, thinking that the pleasant time I would have on the plains, killing game and riding after the herds of buffalo, would over-come all suffering and hardships which I might be compelled to endure.

So on the after - noon of the eleventh I started in Wiles & Company's train of twenty-one men. We were until May 11th reaching St. Joseph; here they bought 525 head of cattle, 35 horses, and 4 wagons, which were drawn by oxen. I bought my outfit in St. Louis; it consisted of one double blanket, a gun, ammunition, and some clothes.

We had a hard time going through Missouri. We had a snow storm in the last of April which left the roads covered with mud and water. We camped out, all the way, rain or shine; considering we were all used to good beds and board being changed, in quick time to har’d fare and the wet ground for a bed, you can judge of our feelings, but we all felt well and were in good spirits; but we were on a hard trip and so were prepared for any-thing.

At St. Joseph we camped one day and purchased provisions.

On the 12th of May we ferried the stock across the river, and traveled five miles through very heavy timber, and camped at the bluffs, on the edge of the plain; but before we reached the camp ground, it began to rain and continued all night; here was work to guard 550 head of horses and cattle, on the open plain; there were ten men on guard this night and were relieved at 12 M. by ten more.

The next morning two men went back to St. Joseph for two wagons, that we left, and returned in the evening. It is still raining.

May lVth. It has been raining in torrents all day, a band of our cattle strayed off today but we found them.

15th. We started this morning for the plains, bidding farewell to the last abode of white men, until we reach the forts, or trading posts, and those are not more than half white. The roads were good and a fine day.

l6th. A fine day and good roads. We saw a few Indians going to the river. Grass short but good.

17th., l8th. and 19th. were fine days; roads good, they extended over rolling prairie, with timber on the streams. It was very good farming land.

20th. This was a very stormy day; we could scarcely keep the cattle together; we put a guard on the cattle on the creek-bank; everything was wet and the creek overflowing its banks. I slept on the wet ground with a little brush under me for a bed. We could not cook much supper because the wood was wet. It was raining and the water was muddy. We set our logs afire and some of the boys burned their boots. This was a hard day and night, but we thawed out by the morning sun-shine.

21st. We started again on our trip. The roads, over rolling prairie, were very good.

May 22, 1854. We crossed the big Bleu river, the banks were very soft, making it very hard to cross; we paid $5.00 per wagon for ferrying. We had good roads, with plenty of wood, water and grass; camped in the bottom; the horses left camp in the night and went back to the river.

-2-23rd. We were in sight of five trains. No Indians or game in sight.

24th. Land here is rolling prairie and is fine for farming.

25th. Thursday. A horse ran off with saddle and bridle; I rode after him, ten miles, on my mule; when I caught him, both had nearly given out. Camped on Bleu River; good water, grass and wood. Crossed several creeks.

26th. Raining. In sight of eight trains. Camped on little Bleu; plenty of wood, grass and water.

27th. Raining. Camped on Bleu river; roads were good; grass very poor.

28th. Sunday. Raining. We went over the hills and laid over.

29th. Camped on Bleu river; good grass. A heavy storm, in which the tents were blown down; cattle stampeded and every body up in the storm after the cattle.

Indian alarm.

30th. Raining. Gathered up cattle after the storm and had to drive them three miles from camp; three of us were without    supper. Each    of    us    had a mule    and two revolvers;

the latter we held in our hands    all    night. At 1    A.    M.    there were    two shots fired at

camp, supposed to have (been) fired at an Indian, by the guard.

May 31, 185^• Wednesday. We started this morning, and five miles from camp, there were about five-hundred Indian warriors; met a woman on horse back that the indians chased and stopped their wagon;    they stopped us and    we    were going    to fight them; we

were all arranged with our guns    and    pistols; and    being    surrounded    by the indians, we

compromised by giving them a little sugar and flour; they took a bowie knife from a man that belonged to another train. Roads good with some hills; this is thirty-five miles from Fort Kearney.

Camped on Platte bottom and had to use buffalo chips to cook by.

June 1st. Thursday. Passing Ft. Kearney; and sent word over about the indians; the captain ordered out a dozen men after them. Camped three miles west of Ft. Kearney; some willow for fuel, good grass and plenty of water.

2nd. Camped on Platte. Raining all day, no wood.

3rd. Camped. No wood. Traveling up the Platte River.

4th. Sunday. No wood at camp to-night. Plenty of grass on the river. Roads swampy.

5th. Monday. Good grass and plenty of wood. We laid over two days. Four of the boys went buffalo hunting and succeeded in killing two; one of the men was thrown off his mule and was hurt some; his mule ran off and they did not find him until next day; the men arrived at camp at mid-night.

8th. Thursday. We traveled twenty miles with good roads and plenty of grass.

9th. Traveled twenty-five miles; passed middle ford; no grass all day. Camped on the island; plenty of wood; grass.

10th. Good roads but no wood. The cattle stampeded last night; we ran them four

-3-railes before we could head them off.

11th. Sunday. Camped on the bottom. Wo wood.

12th. Crossed the south fork of the Platte river; the Ford was deep in places and had to swim the cattle. There were two "sheep trains" waiting for the water to fall.

Some of the band of Indians we encountered near Ft. Kearney, arrived on their way to their country; they had a fight with the Pawnees and were whipped; fourteen were killed; their party consisted of Souise, Scheynees, and Shoshonees.

The river is 3 A of a mile wide; the mail wagons crossed ahead. One wagon and team drifted down stream; there was a woman in it; the outfit came near being lost. Camped on the river. Good grass.

13th. Crossed some hills to Ash Hollow; here being plenty of wood but grass very scarce. We were now in sight of trains on the north side of the Platte River. Camped on the bottom, five miles from Ash Hollow. There is alkali water here. Two of our boys had a fight here but no one was injured. A heavy storm came up in the night and blew down the tent and wet everything. It is 1^0 miles to Ft. Laramie. Boads are sandy. We are traveling close to the river.

l^th. Wednesday. Boads sandy. Passed Indian mound 40 ft. high, being the shape of an egg. Camped on the bottom; no wood.

15th. We had a rain storm; camped on bluff; roads sandy; no wood and poor grass.

l6th. Friday. Camped on bottom, five miles north of table Bock, seventeen miles of chimney rock. No wood. Alkali water. Passed two creeks of spring water.

17th. Camped on bottom, five miles from Chimney Bock; poor grass; no wood.

l8th. Sunday. Passed Chimney Rock. There were two trading posts here and also a black-smith shop. Camped on the bottom, within eight miles of Scotts bluffs. A great many trains are in sight. Poor grass; no wood. Roads good.

19th. Traveled fourteen miles, to where the roads fork; the right hand is supposed the best and shortest, but we took the left and passed the bluff; here is a good spring in the Ravine to the left of the road. I cut my name on a stump. Good grass and plenty of water for the stock; plenty of wood. Camped two miles west of the bluff Grass.

20th. Tuesday. Went to Horse Creek. Good roads and grass. We laid over to "Shoe Cattle."

21st. No grass along the road. Passed one Settlement Camp and three trading posts on a little creek seventeen miles east of Ft. Laramie.

22nd. No grass on the roads. Passed two trading posts. Camped at Chouteas Trading post; poor grass. When any of the Indians die, they are wrapped in their blanket and hung in a tree or on a pole until they fall off or dry up; then their Spirit has departed for their Spirit hunting grounds.

23rd. Passed Ft, Laramie and crossed the river, on a good bridge. There are some Indians here; a few trading posts. The officers refused to let us camp within two

-I*-miles of the fort, on account of the scarcity of feed. Roads fork, and we took the left over the Black hills, on which we camped; no water; good grass, the hills being covered with flax. Camped with-in eight miles, west of the fort. There were six miles of hot springs.

2^th. Saturday. The water at hot springs was not very good, but was cool. A poor place to water cattle on the road over the hills; some water six miles from here. We camped seven miles from here, which was at Bitter-Cotton-wood. Good water and plenty of grass. The weather is warm.

25th. Sunday. We traveled fourteen miles; good camp on Horse Creek. Cheyenne indians are around here. Roads rough. Wood plenty.

26th. We laid over here today, shoeing cattle and mules.

27th. Passed over Black hills, one spring and a dry creek; roads bad; no game. We met four men, two women and three children; the children all being ten years of age; they were on mules and were strapped to the saddle.

28th. Wednesday. Passed several springs and a dry creek. Roads bad. Camped three miles from Labonte river. Good grass and plenty of wood.

29th. We crossed the Labonte; there is a trading post here; roads very hilly. Eight miles from here, we crossed the branch; this place has the appearance of a volcano; the earth is red and broken, and rocks being thrown up; five miles from here we strike the hills. Good grass and water; camped on Ellelrite river. Trout and sun fish are a plenty. We remained here six days, recruiting the stock. The days were spent in fishing, hunting and shoeing cattle.

July Uth, 1854 was celebrated by shooting from a high hill; several assembled at the top and shot off their guns. We raised camp on Wednesday, 5th of July and traveled ' ten miles and camped on Fourchabois R., there were plenty of fish here. At the last camp, there were several of us going to leave the train because we were dissatisfied with their traveling.

6th. Thursday. Roads good. We crossed several branches of a river.

7th. We crossed Mud, Snow and Dry creeks and the Platte river, over which was a good bridge. We camped on the river bank, where the grass was poor, aand deep, and the roads rough.

8th. Camped on Mineral Spring Creek; the water in thiB spring is not poisonous.

Good grass and plenty of sage brush for fuel. We turned to the left and left the river road.

9th. Sunday. Traveled twenty miles. No water for the cattle. Passed Alkali Springs, which is eight miles from last camp. It is seven miles to Willow Springs and four to Fish Run Creek; this creek is eight feet wide. There were five buffalo in sight today; four of our crowd tried to surround them, but they started on the run across the hills; two of the men followed them and killed one; three men went after the meat with a pack horse, and on their return to camp, they lost their way and were out all night (the coldest of season) without coats or blankets. This part of the country has been burnt over and thrown up by volcanic eruption, in past years. There was no grass here of any consequence.

-5-10th. Monday. Started from camp at day-light, without any breakfast; when five miles from camp, we stopped and got breakfast; ten o'clock. The boys arrived in camp tonight with the buffalo meat. There is some bunch grass here; the earth is white, like chalk. There are thirty miles of land here with but little grass. We traveled fifteen miles down Fish Run to Sweet Water. Grass and water good. Cemped seven miles east of Independence rock.

11th. We laid here for rest. We jerked the buffalo meat today. Some of the men out humting; game is plentiful. I went seven miles in through the mountains, to where there was a big smoke; expecting to meet the men there with their game, but did not see them. While I was returning, I saw droves of deer, goats, antelope, elk, buffalo and wolves; I rode so near to some deer that I could strike them with my whip, and was with-in ten steps of a buffalo, but had no fire-arms with me.

July 12, 1854. Wednesday. Raised camp and passed Independence Rock, on which some of us left our names. Passed Saleratus lake and Devil's gate and left it to the right; six miles from here, we camped on the river; good grass and a creek one mile

from camp.

13th, Passed Saleratus lake; here the road forks; the right hand is supposed to be the best; it is six miles to Sage creek. No water here. Passed Stoney bluff; the roads are sandy for three miles to Bitter Cottonwood; camped here; grass is poor; sage for fuel. The mountains are very high here.

lUth. Crossed ford No. 2 of Sweetwater; the water at this ford was shallow and twenty feet wide. Six miles to ford no. 3* where there is a good crossing. One mile to ford No. U, water is deep. One mile from this ford is good grass. Five miles to camp and good roads,

15th. Passed Ice Springs; there is alkali water, good grass and roads here. Traveled twenty miles and were with-out water from ford No. 5 to 6, which is fifteen miles. Grass is short.

l6th. Sunday. Started at seven o'clock, crossed fords No. 6,7, and 8. Two miles from here is good water. The roads are very mountainous; crossed three lakes, there is a great deal of alkali here. One mile from this place, we turned to the right of the road and entered a little valley. The weather is cool after the rain. At this place there is sage for burning. Good grass and a spring. I am guard for to-night.

17th. Monday. Traveled twenty miles, passed two springs of very good water; we also crossed a poplar grove and Strawberry creeks. It is two and one-half miles to a branch of Sweet-water. At this place we met the mail train going east. There are four pack mules and two men camped here. There are several good camping places along the road, and plenty of Willows. We had a hail storm to-day. Crossed ford No. 9, here the roads fork; the right hand one, which we took, was very level. Camped five miles from the ford, on the river. Five miles from South Pass. There is plenty of snow on the mountains. Only a little sage for fire.

18th. Tuesday. Crossed the dividing ridge between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans The elevation is very gradual. We are now traveling down stream. The streams of water all flow west, from this place. It is three miles to Pacific Springs. Ice can be dug here at any time. It is a good place to water stock. Took the left hand ready traveled ten miles and camped on a creek. Good grass is scarce.

19th. Crossed a creek, three miles from camp. There is no more water for twenty

-6-miles. Crossed several alkali springs. Struck big Sandy river. There is no grass here, as it is a large sandy desert; the earth is white, like saleratus and is barren, with the exception of a little sage-brush and some greasewood, which burns like a candle, while they grow.

20th July, l85^- Thursday. Started early from this place. Found grass five miles from here. The horses had fasted so long that they were thinking of eating the wagons; consequently grass was welcome; the grass tasted better than the sage-brush and grease-wood. One mile from here, we crossed the little Sandy, which is eight feet wide and three feet deep. Eight miles from here, we struck the river again; camped one mile from here. Good grass. Laid over a day and a half. At this place several of the oxen died. The roads fork here; the left to Salt Lake, which is one-hundred and twenty miles. There is a cut-off here between the forks.

22nd. Started at 3 P.M. Eight miles to camp on a hill; good bunch grass. No wood or water. Road i’orks. tfe took the right hand road.

23rd. Traveled twelve miles to the ford of Green river.    The    grass along the road    is

poor. The soil is brown and light. There is a good flat boat, on which we ferried the wagons across, and forded the horses and cattle, without any loss. Roads are a little rough. Camped to the right, on the river, five miles from the ferry. Good grass and wood.

2Hh. Sunday. Went two miles up the river and camped; laid over here, shoeing horses, cattle and resting for two days.


26th. Traveled to Ham's fork. Roads were a little rough. Met a trader here. Crossed several creekB, camped on the fork, where there ia a    fine    camp ground, and    plenty

of splendid grass, and also speckled mountain trout, of which    we caught enough    for

several meals.

28th. Laid over half a day. Traveled five miles from the valley; passed over a large mountain. The train owners purchased a yoke of cattle from the trader. Camped on the left of road. There is a spring, also plenty of good grass and wood. My watch to-night.    Cattle a half mile    from camp; when    I went on my watch,    in the afterpart of the night, the other guard was asleep and I    could not find him,    as the night

was very dark; I rolled up in my blanket and reclined under a sage bush until morning.

29th. Friday. Traveled to Bear River, a distance of seventeen miles. Crossed several springs and saw some fine grass. The road was over some very large hills. Camped on Bear River; the grass, which resembles timothy, is three feet high. There is little wood and some willows. Rained at night and the cattle stampeded.

July 30, 185^. Started and traveled ten miles and camped on Bear River. Plenty of grass everywhere,

31st. Sunday.    Traveled twenty-two    miles. Passed    over some very rough    road, on

which there was    good grass. Camped    on Tulle creek;    there is good grass    and water but

no wood.

August 1, 185^. Crossed three creeks during to-day's travel of twelve miles. Roads and grass good. Camped on the river.

-7-2nd. Tuesday. Crossed three creeks. The grass and roads are good. Struck swift water while crossing Black Mud Creek; after crossing the latter creek, we soon arrived at Soda Springs; on the left hank of these springs, we camped. Soda Springs are situated on a flat piece of land and where the water hoils up, it forms a crust, like on the inside of a tea kettle, which in time closes up; then the water breaks out in another place. This water is said to be good to drink but I did not taste it.

3rd. Traveled fourteen miles to the Junction of the forts Hall and California. We cut off and took the Ft. Hall road, passed Soda, Mineral and Boiling Springs. Three miles from the Junction is an old crater; the ground near by is strewn with cinders, which is composed mostly of melted iron; these cinders are very heavy. For the distance of two miles, along this road, the earth is split; in some places, the opening 1b three feet wide and as deep as you can see. Camped seven miles from Junction. Good grass and water; there 1b some alkali water on the road. Camped at three fine springs. It is fifty-five miles to Ft. Hall.

kth Aug. Traveled sixteen miles to a branch of Bannack River, which is ten feet wide, water is deep and the banks are soft. Good grass and water. There are willows for fire wood. Crossed several creeks; good grass all along the road. This country, near the creeks, is low land, which, without doubt, overflows often.

5th Friday. Traveled fifteen miles to Bannack River, over which is a bridge. After ascending a mountain, there appears several springs on the road. Seven miles from the river is a good spring. Good grass. A trader, with his squaw and family, traveled with us a few days; he was going to Oregon with some stock. Three miles from the spring to camp. Good grass.

6th. Traveled down the valley, over good roads, for fifteen miles; nooned on Rosue Creek and soon after, we crossed a creek; roads fork; the right hand one leads to Ft. Hall; the left, a little cut off; camped on creek on the latter. Good grass.

7th. Sunday. Crossed part Neff, over which is a good bridge; one mile from here, we crossed a small stream. Camped on the river bank. Good grass. Traveled twenty miles.

8th. Laid over here to-day.

9th. Tuesday. Started from this camp at noon. Lost four head of cattle, supposed they crossed the river, which is wide and deep. We did some hunting and fishing here. Traveled eight miles to camp.

10th August, 185^. Three miles from here, we passed the American Falls. There is a little grass here. We are now at Lewis river, which is a large stream; camped on the bank and then traveled about twelve miles.

11th. One mile from camp is a small stream; the grass on its banks is fair.

Traveled ten miles over hilly roads, and crossed a small stream, then traveled three miles more and crossed another stream which had six falls on it. One mile to camp. Fair grass.

12th. Friday. Traveled two miles, left the river and went over some hills and through a canon; have reached Raft River; the roads fork here, the right hand one goes to Oregon, and the left to California; the men did not know which was the correct one but decided to take the left one, which proved to be the one desired. Good road and grass here. The land on Raft River is a little swampy. Some of the cattle


died here. Traveled four miles up the creek and camped. Good grass.

13th. Traveled ten miles and then nooned. Good grass. Crossed Raft River. It is eight miles to the Junction of old roads; camped on the side of the mountain. Good grass and the water, which comes from the west branch of Raft River and Mud Creek, is also good.

l^th. Sunday. Went three miles and arrived at a stream of swift water; this stream is one foot deep and ten feet wide. Passed two springs. It is four miles to Ford No. 2, which is situated on Raft River. Good grass here. Traveled three miles to Dry Creek and nooned. It is six miles to the next creek. Went two miles down the creek and camped. Good grass and water. We are in sight of Pyramid Circle, which is a collection of rocks formed like pyramids; is about two hundred feet high; there are two columns standing together and to the spectators it looks like a king and queen.

15th. Monday. It is three miles to Pyramid Circle, and seven to Junction of the California and Salt Lake roads. We are in sight of six trains. Nooned at the Junction, where there was good grass, but no water. Crossed a dry creek. There are high mountains around. Good roads. Camped at Flint Springs, at the foot of a mountain. There is good grass, but little water and no wood.

l6th. Traveled fourteen miles over a very rough road; five miles from camp, we came to a creek, which contains but little water, at present. It is three miles to another creek, where there is good water. It is four miles to Goose Creek, where I commenced to drive an ox team, having to take the place of another man, as the roads were very rough; the man was driving cattle with my mules, which the Captain of the train took away from him and he had to walk. My work here was hard for a few days, until I got the oxen broke in to my notion. The roads are very rough. Water is good and good grass, early in the summer. Camped down the stream; there are some willows two miles down the stream.

17th. Wednesday. August 185^. Traveled fourteen miles to-day. Went four miles to a creek and went down Goose Creek. Crossed several ravines. Went four miles up Goose Creek to camp. Good grass.

18th. Thursday. Went thirteen miles; crossed a small stream, named Good Creek; went through a canon, which is two miles long. Crossed Good Creek again, it is a bad crossing. There is a stretch of twelve miles of country here, that is without water. Roads bad. No grass all day. Camped at Rock Spring; water is good, but there is not enough for the cattle. There is a little bunch grass on the side of the mountain.

This is the head of Thousand Spring Valley, Found the body of a buck Indian, who had six holes in the side of his head; he lay with his legs doubled up under him. We supposed that he was trying to steal horses from a train. This is my night to guard and I will say that between the hungry cattle and the smell of the Indian, made it anything but pleasant. The cattle stampeded at midnight as the moon was rising.

We took up camp and traveled down the valley until morning. Found good grass. Cooked breakfast here.

19th. Ate breakfast at nine o'clock. It is sixteen miles from camp to fair grass. There is some water. Good roads. Traveled seven miles and camped where we had good grass and a fair place to water the stock.

20th. Saturday. Traveled nine miles and crossed a creek, where we nooned. Fair grass. Six miles from here to camp. Here is a good spring. There Is grass

-9-on the mountain at our right. Sage for fire. Had some rain. There is a trading post here; the man killed a beef and we bought a quarter. There are several indians in camp; gave them some biscuits. The indians were a dirty and miserable tribe called the piutes. It is thirty miles to the head of Humboldt Biver. I was taken sick here, with chills, which lasted three days.

August 21, 185^. Sunday. Traveled fifteen miles over good road. Took the right hand road to Humboldt camp; plenty of sage for fire wood. Good grass. Raining all day and night.

22nd. Traveled fifteen miles down the fork of the Humboldt. Roads are good and grass is fair. Camped three miles from Himboldt River. Good grass. Sage for fire. It is raining hard.

23rd. Traveled seven miles and nooned. Crossed the Humboldt River and several branches. It is still raining. Several trains are in sight. Camped on the river. Good roads and grass.

2Uth. Wednesday. We traveled down the river eighteen miles, then left the river for one mile; seven miles from here, we crossed the west branch of the Humboldt. There is a little grass along the road. Camped on the river; good roads and grass.

25th. Left the river, and went over hills; the roads are bad; there is no grass for seventeen miles. This day we traveled twenty miles and camped on poor grass.

26th. Friday, Traveled six miles to good grass and camped.

27th. Saturday. Traveled sixteen miles, crossed two hills and camped on the river; good grass.

20th. Traveled fifteen miles and camped where there was some splendid grass. Roads are good. At this place the river makes a large bend.

29th. Traveled fifteen miles and camped. Roads good.

August 30, 185^. Tuesday. Traveled fifteen miles during which we had good roads, and fair grass on a slough. Good water at camp. I was sick here for three days and seems tlxat there must be some mistake as I was sick only three days on the trip.

31st August, 1st, 2nd, Sept. During these three days I was not able to take down items. We went along as usual. It was raining some.

3rd. Sept. Traveled five miles to hills and five miles more to camp on the river where we laid up for half a day. Good grass.

^th. Sunday. Traveled through a canon which was five miles long. It is two miles from here to grass, near which we nooned.

5th. Traveled ten miles to good grass, in the valley. Fifteen miles to camp, where there is plenty of grass. Roads good.

6th. Traveled five miles to heavy sandy roads. Grass is poor. It is ten miles to camp, where the grass is fair.

7th. Wednesday. Traveled three miles and struck heavy sand. To camp, twelve miles. Grass is poor and the roads are bad.

-10-8th. Traveled three miles to heavy sand, the beginning of the desert. There is no water for fourteen miles, at the end of which iB a spring containing but little water. It is three miles to the river. Some grass early in the season. Two miles from here is a small spring containing a little water. Camped on the river. There is some grass for the horses. The dust is very deep.

9th. Sept. 1854. Friday. Traveled eight miles and nooned near some grass and willows. Six miles from here, we came to the river, near which there was no grass. Traveled two miles to camp where there was fair grass and plenty of willows,

10th. Traveled three miles and came to the river again. It is a bad place to water the cattle. No grass. At this place, there is a heavy sand hill. Six miles from here, we came to the river again. It is a good place to water cattle. Six miles from here to the meadow. Three miles to camp, where the grass is fair but salty. There is no wood, and for drinking water, we had to drink slough water. It is about twenty-two miles to the sink of the Humboldt River.

11th. Sunday. Traveled five miles and laid over. Good grass but no wood. The grass and ground is covered with a crust of salt and saleratus. The weather is warm.

12th. Monday. Laid up to recruit and cut cane; for the desert here is a plain of about two miles square, covered with a species of cane, which is about an inch in circumference; there are leaves and tassels on the stalk resembling broom corn; it is used for feed for horses and cattle, while crossing the desert. We worked nearly all day, cutting corn with out knives, and preparing for the forty miles of desert. The ground is covered with water about two or three feet deep. Opened a can of brandy brought from St. Louis; we found it black and thick, but it tasted very good to us, as we were very tired and our clothes were wet. We camped here and cooked all the good things we had for supper.

13th. Traveled seven miles to rock roads, which continued a few miles. We passed Sulphur springs and camped at the Sink; there is some grass here on the island. This stretch of country would be correctly named if called Bone Valley, as the roads are covered with dead horses, cattle and mules, also wagons, etc., as every person would lighten up his lead before attempting to cross the desert.

lHh. Wednesday. Laid over and put the cattle on the island, but the grass was salty and the ground soft and several of the cattle got stuck in the mud. I could not sleep here, as I kept thinking of crossing the desert. I was driving a team, so~I took the place of one of the guards.

15th. At eleven o'clock, we began our Journey across the desert. It is seven miles to a slough where we got a supply of water, for within thirty miles from here, there is none. There is not a sign of vegetation. The earth is white and full of little knolls; roads are level. Eight miles from here, there is some little bunch grass on the right of the road. At ten o'clock we stopped to get Bupper and feed the oxen.

The night was very dark also a little rain. We had to walk across. The wolves are howling and the cattle getting weak; a man rode through the drove of cattle In the middle of the night, trying to stampede them, but he did not accomplish his object.

The last twelve miles is very heavy sand. There are some ports on the road selling water and whiskey, and some had hay. Near the sink, two of our men with four horses, left our train and took a road north of us. Arrived at Humboldt Sink 11 A.M. I was about tired out. There are several trading posts, Bakey's hotel, etc. The hotels had some big names. All the houses are built of cloth and willows; consequently the town was called Rag Town; this town is situated on the Carson River. Good water. I did


not go and get dinner as I was very tired. Went down the river four miles and camped. Grass very good in early season. Plenty of wood.

l6th, Friday. Laid over here to recruit. The horses are getting a disease among them; it is a swelling of the glands which kills them very soon.

17th. Sept. 1854. Laid over today.

18th. Traveled up river for sixteen miles and camped on a bend on the river. Roads are sandy; no grass; the cattle ate Willows and brush. The last part of this night was my watch. We kept up a fire of sage brush all night. We lost a mule here; strayed or stolen. The day was warm. There is no more water for twelve miles.

19th. Monday. Went three miles to rocks. The day was warm. Struck the river, nine miles from here. There is some grass early in the season. Nooned here, near grass and willows. There is a little grass down the river one mile. It is five miles to Big Bend; turned up the river and went three miles; there is good grass across the river. This place is a food camp ground.

Sept. 20th. Tuesday. Laid over here, as the grass is very good. We were hunting, washing, sleeping, etc.

21st. Left camp at noon and traveled six miles up the river. Fine grass and a good place to cut hay.

22nd. Traveled six miles and crossed the river. Grass very good and plenty of wood. It is very sickly here for cattle; some nights we lose as many as fifteen head. We also lost four head of horses here; die of the swell head. It is thirty-five miles to Carson Valley.

23rd Sept. 1854. Traveled nine miles through heavy sand. Took breakfast and continued on our journey for twelve miles up the river. Roads are fair. Good grass and plenty of water. Noon on the east side of the river.

24th. Traveled six miles and struck the river at Gold Canon. There is no more water for thirteen miles. There has been mining carried on at Gold Canon since 1852. Seven miles to Lime or Chalk Hill, which looks like a chalk bed. There has been some gold, in its purest form, found here. This place is hard on the shoes, lips, eyes, etc.

The roads are not very good. Traveled six miles and struck the river. A little grass. It is two and one-half miles to "Eagle Ranch," the first farming place after leaving Salt Lake. This is called Eagle Valley. There are boiling springs around here; the water from which is so warm that a person can not hold a finger in it a second, but still there are fish living in it. I threw a toad in and it killed him as quick as he struck the water. Good grass.

25th. Sunday. Traveled six miles through heavy sand,    crossed Cold Creek,    which contains good water.    The grass    here is fair. It Is six miles to camp. This    is the

commencement of the Mormon settlement. Good grass at the foot of the mountain. Here is another hot spring.

26th Sept. 1854.    Arrived at    the Mormon settlement and    station. There are    some fine

farms along here.    This is a    low, swampy place and the    water is very warm.    Two and

one-half miles to hot springs. One and one-half miles to camp, on a creek where there is some wood. Good grass and fair water. There was a horse-race here today. They are constructing a new saw-mill here; it is to be run by water power.

27th. Tuesday. 28th. Laid over here to recruit before crossing the mountains. Left twenty-five head of weak cattle here to be wintered. One of our men went to another train here and two left the train at the big bend of Carson River.

29th. Laid over to-day. From four o'clock in the evening# the wind that blew down from the mountains was very cold. The mornings are very cool but the days are pleasant. The Sierra Nevada mountains are very steep here. The fences are built of pine logs which were rolled down from the mountain. The logs are about two feet long and three and four feet thick; it makes a very substantial fence.

30th. Friday. Went to the mouth of the canon. Some grass# no wood# poor water.

There is a saw mill, on the river# which is run by water power. There is a settlement at the canon.

Oct. 1, 185^. Saturday. We went through the canon to-day and it was the roughest road that a white man ever traveled over; there was only room for a single wagon track between boulders, which would weigh several tons; the wheels would be up so high that we would have to hold on to the side to keep the wagon from up-setting, other places the double-trees would rub their ends on the rocks. It was turn, twist and roll over all through it, the distance being six miles. The stream is bridged in three places; the mountains on each side are very steep and about four hundred feet high. The water in this stream, called the Carson River, is very good. Our negro cook was sick while going through here; he rode in my wagon and was very well churned before we got through. In some places the cattle would mire down and would have to pull them out; then the wheels would come in contact with rocks which were from five to ten feet high# and we would have to pry them out. Got through the canon about four o'clock P.M.# and were tired out. Camped in Hope Valley, three miles from the head of the canon. Good grass and water, and now, as we cross the mountains# there is plenty of wood.

Oct. 2# 185^. Sunday. Laid over here, as there is good grass at the foot of the mountains. All of the boys are busy climbing the mountains and prospecting for gold through the ravines.

3rd. Monday. Started up the mountain; it is a very steep, rocky road. At the foot

of this mountain there is a good sized lake# called _.1 There is some grass

here. From here it is a very steep ascent; it is two miles to the summit, where the roads are some better. Traveled about ten miles to Red Lake, which is between two summits; it is nearly a circle being about one mile in circumference; it is supposed to be deep and contains good water. There are several trading posts here. We drove the cattle two miles, from camp to some grass. Had the woods lit up by setting some trees on fire.

hth. Tuesday. Went over second summit road; it is not so steep, but it is very rough. Five miles to Summit and one mile to lake. There is some grass early in the season. Six miles from here to camp# where there is some water, but no grass. Roads are rough. Passed over some of last winter's snow on the dividing ridge between the Pacific and the Great Basin.

5th. Wednesday. The roads are bad. Traveled about twelve miles; passed several lakes and where there had been grass. The roads fork here, left hand is Volcano and right is Placerville. Camped here but drove the cattle to the left of the road, where there is fair grass. This is my night to watch. It rained all night; we kept up a fire but were wet through.

-13-6th. Thursday. Started this morning, after eating a half-cooked breakfast. It is one mile to the junction of Hang-town and Grizzly Flat Roads, of which we took the latter; it was flat for some distance; it is twenty miles to Grizzly Flat. The day is cloudy. It is ten miles to a large hill, which is the last to climb. Camped one mile from Grizzley Flat, where there is some grass. This is the first mining town we reached in California. The hills are cut up, by ditches, cut to convey water to the mining claims.

October 7,    This morning we went through a mining town called Grizzly Flat, or

Mt. Pleasant; it consists of twenty-five houses. The place is cut up a great deal by mining. They have a wooden track railroad here for conveying logs to the saw-mill.

We traveled about twelve miles to-day. Camped on a ravine; good grass. Crossed the Cosumnes River which is about twenty feet wide. There is grass along the road. We are meeting teams loaded with freight for Grizzley Flat. The Chinese are carrying their packs on poles on their shoulders. Roads are very good but water is scarce.

October 8, 185^. Saturday. Crossed another branch of the Cosumnes. Here they are digging for the precious dust. There is some grass along the road. Passed through a town, of fifty inhabitants, called Bridgefort. Traveled twelve miles and camped. There is good grass and roads here. Some drunken Indians came to camp.

9th. Sunday. Traveled about twelve miles and camped at Ranch; put the cattle in the field and paid $5.00. Passed Jamison's place, which is a fine farm place.

October 10,185^. Monday. Traveled to Buckeye ranch; the roads are good. It is raining to-day. Camped two miles South of Ranch on prairie; there are some springs, poor grass and no wood.

This finishes my trip across the plains in 1854.

P. H. Murphy

(C. L. M.)


The following prices were paid for articles purchased on the trip.

Thirty miles east of Humboldt Sink

Flour, per lb., 50 cents Potatoes, small, per lb., 25 cents

On the desert

Hay, per lb., 12^- cents Barley, per lb., 25 cents

At Eagle Banch

Flour, per lb., 23 cents Potatoes, per lb., 10 cents

At Canon Valley

Turnips, per lb., 8 cents Barley, per lb., 10 cents

On Sierra Nevada Mountains

Bacon, per lb., ^0 cents Flour, per lb., 20 cents Barley, per lb., 7 cents

At Mt. Pleasant

Flour, per lb., 8 cents Onions, per lb., 5 cents

On Second Summit

Bacon, per lb., 25 cents Potatoes, per lb., 6 cents

Twenty-five miles E. of Bag-town

Hay, per lb., 72 cents Potatoes, per lb., 8 cents Flour, per lb., 37? cents

In Bag-town

Hay, per lb., 7? cents Barley, per lb., 20 cents Potatoes, per lb,, 12 cents Flour, per lb., kO cents Beans, per lb., 30 cents Onions, per lb,, 30 cents

P. H. Murphy (C. L. M.)

Webmaster Message

We make every effort to document our research. If you have something you would like to add, please contact us.