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- The Great Salt Lake Trail - 1/86 -


There are seven historic trails crossing the great plains of the interior of the continent, all of which for a portion of their distance traverse the geographical limits of what is now the prosperous commonwealth of Kansas.

None of these primitive highways, however, with the exception of that oldest of all to far-off Santa Fé, has a more stirring story than that known as the Salt Lake Trail.

Over this historical highway the Mormons made their lonely Hegira to the valley of that vast inland sea. On its shores they established a city, marvellous in its conception, and a monument to the ability of man to overcome almost insuperable obstacles—the product of a faith equal to that which inspired the crusader to battle to the death for the possession of the Holy Sepulchre.

Over this route, also, were made those world-renowned expeditions by Fremont, Stansbury, Lander, and others of lesser fame, to the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and beyond, to the blue shores of the Pacific Ocean.

Over the same trackless waste the Pony Express executed those marvellous feats in annihilating distance, and the once famous Overland Stage lumbered along through the seemingly interminable desert of sage-brush and alkali dust—avant-courières of the telegraph and the railroad.

One of the collaborators of this volume, Colonel W. F. Cody (“Buffalo Bill”), began his remarkable career, as a boy, on the Salt Lake Trail, and laid the foundations of a life which has made him a conspicuous American figure at the close of this century.

It is not the intention of the authors of this work to deal in the slightest manner with Mormonism as a religion. An immense mass of literature on the subject is to be found in every public library, both in its defence and in its condemnation. The latter preponderates, and often seems to be inspired by an inexcusable ingenuity in exaggeration.

Of the trials of the Mormons during their toilsome march and their difficulties with the government during the Civil War, this work will treat in a limited way, but its scope is to present the story of the Trail in the days long before the building of a railroad was believed to be possible. It will deal with the era of the trapper, the scout, the savage, and the passage of emigrants to the gold fields of California—when the only route was by the overland trail—and with the adventures which marked the long and weary march.


CHAPTER I. EXPLORING EXPEDITIONS. Proposed Exploring Expedition across the Northern Part of the Continent in 1774—Sir Alexander Mackenzie's Expedition—The Expedition of Lewis and Clarke—Hunt's Tour in 1810—March of Robert Stuart eastwardly.

CHAPTER II. THE OLD TRAPPERS. Captain Ezekiel Williams' Expedition to the Platte Valley in 1807—Character of the Old Trapper—The Outfit of his Men—Crosses the River—Immense Herds of Buffalo—Death of their Favourite Hound—A Lost Trapper—A Prairie Burial—A Wolf-chase after a Buffalo—An Indian Lochinvar—The Crow Indians—Their Country —Rose, the Scapegoat Refugee—The Lost Trappers—A Battle with the Savages.

CHAPTER III. JIM BECKWOURTH. General W. H. Ashley's Trapping Expedition—Jim Beckwourth's Story—Two Axe—Kill Fourteen Hundred Buffaloes—The Surround—Expedition is divided—Boats are built— Green River Suck—Indians murder Le Brache—Beckwourth meets Castenga.

CHAPTER IV. CAPTAIN SUBLETTE'S EXPEDITION. Captain William Sublette's Expedition in 1832—They meet Nathaniel J. Wyeth's Party— Arrive at Green River Valley—Attacked by Indians—Antoine Godin shoots a Blackfoot Chief—Fight between Whites, Flatheads, and Blackfeet—An Indian Heroine—Major Stephen H. Long's Scientific Expedition in 1820—Captain Bonneville's Expedition in 1832— Lieutenant John C. Fremont's Expedition in 1842 to the Wind River Mountains.

CHAPTER V. TRADING-POSTS AND THEIR STORIES. Trading-posts of the Great Fur Companies—Fort Vasquez—Fort Laramie—Fort Platte—Fort Bridger—Incidents at Fort Platte—A Drunken Spree—Death and Burial of Susu-Ceicha—Insult to Big Eagle—Bull Tail's Effort to sell his Daughter for a Barrel of Whiskey—A Rare Instance of a Trader's Honour.

CHAPTER VI. THE MORMONS. The Most Desolate of Deserts made to blossom as the Rose—The Mormon Hegira—Pilgrim's Outfit—Curious Guide-posts—The Hand-cart Expedition—Sufferings and Hardships during the Exodus—An Impending War—General Harney's Expedition—Mormon Tactics—Destroy the Supplies—Privations of the United States army —President backs down—Salt Lake City—Brigham Young's Vision— The Temple.

CHAPTER VII. MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE. Mountain Meadows Massacre— Indians attack the Wagons—Lee offers Protection—Ambushed by Lee— Lee flies to the Mountains—Mormon Church acquitted—Execution of John D. Lee—Temporary Toll-bridges—Indian Raids on Cattle Ranches— Stuttering Brown—Graves along the Trail.

CHAPTER VIII. THE PONY EXPRESS. The Problem of the Mails between Atlantic and Pacific—The World-famed Pony Express—Necessity for it —Its Originator—The Firm of Majors, Russell, & Waddell—The Route— Organization—Its Paraphernalia—Daring Riders—J. G. Kelley's Story— Colonel Cody's Story—Incidents and Stories—Old Whipsaw and Little Cayuse, the Pawnee—Slade, the Desperado—The Lynching of Slade— Establishment of the Telegraph.

CHAPTER IX. THE STAGE ROUTE TO THE PACIFIC. Discovery of Gold near Pike's Peak—Exodus from Missouri—The Creation of the Overland Stage Route to the Pacific Coast—Messrs. Russell and Jones' Failure— Russell, Majors, & Waddell's Successful Establishment of a New Line— Hockaday and Liggett's “One-horse” Affair—Advent of the First Stage-coach into Denver—Financial Embarrassment—Ben Holliday— Description of the Outfit of the Route—Incidents and Adventures.

CHAPTER X. SCENERY ON THE TRAIL. Scenery and Historical Localities on the Route of the Old Trail—Loup Fork—De Smet's Account of a Waterspout—Wood River—Brady's Island—Ash Hollow—Johnson's Creek— Scott's Bluff—Independence Rock and its Legend—Chimney Rock— Crazy Woman's Creek—Laramie Plains—Legends and Traditions about the Great Salt Lake—Early Surveys.

CHAPTER XI. INDIAN TRIBES ON THE TRAIL. The Indian Tribes of the Salt Lake Trail—The Otoes—I-e-tan—Blue-Eyes shot by I-e-tan— The Pawnees—Their Tribal Mark—Legends and Traditions—Human Sacrifices—Folk-lore.

CHAPTER XII. SIOUX AND THEIR TRADITIONS. The Sioux Nation—Cause of their Hatred for the Whites—A Chief of the Brûlé Sioux tells a Story —The Scarred-Arms—Story of the Six Sioux and the Mysterious Woman— The Place of the Death Song—Wa-shu-pa and Ogallalla—Indian Fight at Ash Hollow—Indian Tradition of a Flood.

CHAPTER XIII. THE CROWS. The Crows—Council at Fort Philip Kearny in July, 1866—A-ra-poo-ash—Jim Beckwourth in a Fight between Crows and Blackfeet—Beckwourth and the Great Medicine Kettle—The Missionary and the Crows—The Legend of the Blind Men—The Pis-kun.

CHAPTER XIV. FOLK-LORE OF BLACKFEET. Folk-lore of Blackfeet— The Lost Children—The Wolf-Man—The Utes—Massacre of Major Thornburgh's Command on the White River—The Great Chief Ouray— Piutes—Their Theories of the Heavens—The Big Medicine Springs— Closed Hand—Man afraid of his Horses—No Knife—Sitting Bull— Spotted Tail.

CHAPTER XV. SIOUX WAR OF 1863. Sioux War of 1863—Spotted Tail— George P. Belden's Account—Sergeants Hiles and Rolla—Belden and Nelson have an Adventure—Belden maps the Country—Guarding Ben Holliday's Coaches—An Involuntary Highwayman—Capturing Sioux at Gilman's Ranch—Morrow's Ranch—Bentz and Wise—Attack on the Ambulance —Peace Commission—Massacre of Colonel Fetterman's Command at Fort Phil Kearny.

CHAPTER XVI. BUFFALO BILL'S ADVENTURES. Buffalo Bill's Adventures on the Salt Lake Trail—In Charge of a Herd of Beef Cattle—Kills an Indian—With Lew Simpson—Held up—Attacked at Cedar Bluffs—A Brush with Sioux—The Print of a Woman's Shoe—Capture a Village—Buffalo Bill shoots Tall Bull.

CHAPTER XVII. MASSACRE OF CUSTER'S COMMAND. Buffalo Bill's Adventures continued—Hunting at Fort McPherson—Indians steal his Favourite Pony—The Chase—Scouting under General Duncan—Pawnee Sentries—A Deserted Squaw—A Joke on McCarthy—Scouting for Captain Meinhold—Texas Jack—Buckskin Joe—Sitting Bull and the Indian War of 1876—Massacre of Custer and his Command—Buffalo Bill takes the First Scalp for Custer—Yellow Hand, Son of Cut Nose—Carries Despatches for Terry—Good-by to the General.

CHAPTER XVIII. IN A TRAPPER'S BIVOUAC. Around the Camp-fire in a Trapper's Bivouac—Telling Stories of the Old Trail—Old Hatcher's Trip to the Infernal Regions—Colonel Cody's Story of California Joe —A Practical Joke.

CHAPTER XIX. KIT CARSON ON THE YELLOWSTONE. More Stories of the Trail —Frazier and the Bear—An Indian Elopement—The Ogallallas and the Brûlés—Chaf-fa-ly-a—Kit Carson on the Yellowstone—Battle with the Blackfeet—Carson, Bridger, and Baker on the Platte—Jim Cockrell— Peg Leg Smith.

CHAPTER XX. BUILDING THE UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD. The Story of the Building of the Union Pacific Railroad—Extract from General Sherman's Memoirs—General Dodge's Description of the Country when he first saw it—Explorations for a Route—Conference with President Lincoln— Location of the Military Post of D. A. Russell and the Town of Cheyenne —Driving the Last Spike.



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