1. CHAPTER I.
The first principal rendezvous at Halleck Station, Nevada, on the Central Pacific Railroad, was established on the 3d of May, and the forces of the expedition were assembled entire within a few days, consisting, in addition to those already mentioned, as follows: Belonging to the engineer assistants and employés there were four topographers, one assistant surveyor, one assistant astronomical observer and computer, one chief geologist, one meteorologist, two collectors in natural history, one photographer, and guides, packers, laborers, &c., numbering thirty in all, which number was increased to thirty-one on the 1st of July by the addition of an assistant astronomical observer and assistant geologist; as quartermaster's employés, including chief packers, cargadores, guides, &c., fifteen. The transportation was as follows: One fifty-mule pack-train, one forty-mule pack-train, one instrument wagon, and two instrument-carts, two odometer vehicles, and riding-animals for officers, civilian assistants, and employés, as well as the escort. While waiting at Halleck Station, all the available time of the assistants was spent in journeys and examinations among the adjacent mountains within a radius from twelve to fourteen miles.
The entire expedition moved to Carlin, Nevada, at which point the first main astronomical station was to be established. A side party was here organized for work to the north and westward, and principally outside the zone traversed by the parties of the fortieth parallel survey. This party was to converge upon the remainder of main party No. 2, at Battle Mountain, Nevada, which had been sent there to establish a temporary camp at the commencement of that line. Main party No. 1 cut loose from the railroad about June 1, and passed to the southward, through Mineral Hill, Eureka, and Morcy districts, to Belmont, about seven miles from which place the second rendezvous camp was established.
Two side topographical parties detoured from this line, coming in upon the main line successively at Eureka and Moray, visiting many mining districts and gaining valuable topographical and allied information. Main party No. 2, in charge of Acting Assistant Surgeon A. H. Cochrane, moving to the south, passed through Battle Mountain district, reaching Austin, as the first important point of any size. Side parties carried hasty examinations along the Toyabe Range and on either side of the Monitor Range.
The interval of time here included is a little more than thirty days. The examinations were over areas in both Nevada and California. Main party No. 2, in charge of Lieutenant Lyle, operated to the south and west, impinging with one side party constantly employed upon the very desert and little-known area to the south and southwest from Belmont, which is a portion of that large tract in Southwestern Nevada hitherto unexplored. I beg leave to append the report presented by this officer, marked Appendix B. Main party No. 1, with two side parties constantly engaged, moved to the south and east, reaching Pahranagat Valley for supplies prior to the direct
It was thought at first that it would be impracticable to make this march with the entire train, and that it would be necessary to surround this desert section in traveling along lines partially known, and entering it at certain points with parties numbering not more than five or six. It was almost impossible to gain any accurate information of even the chances for grass and water from either white man or Indian, the erratic wanderings of the latter having scarcely reached a day's march from their own wick-e-ups. A party was dispatched to the southward, toward the Colorado, to establish a supply camp somewhere along Spring Mountain Range, upon which to converge, after the parties should have again crossed the ‘‘"Death Valley,"’’ in their outward journey from Camp Independence. This arrangement proved most fortuitous. On the 23d of July, the rest of the main party were all together at Naquinta Springs, north and west from Tim-pah-ute Peak, with the desert stretching out along our western horizon. The objective point was a place since called Oasis Valley, known at the time to be sensibly to our westward, and containing good grass and water. This locality was reached after three days of the most severe marching, and was found to be a narrow valley, surrounded by low rolling mesas, from which broke, in many places, a large number of springs of good, clear water, but of varying thermal conditions. We remained here until joined by a messenger from Lieutenant Lyle's party, who reported still more terrible difficulties before us. This messenger came in accompanied by an Indian, and reported that he had left Lieutenant Lyle with a relief party on the eastern slope of the Inyo Range, and that he, in company with a guide by the name of Hahn, had gone forward to seek a camp to the eastward, and had been left far from this place by the guide, who apparently was confused from not knowing the country; this guide has never since been heard from. Lieutenant Lyle and party succeeded in reaching a little mining camp near Gold Mountain after great hardship. A subsequent guide sent by this officer explained that it would be impossible to send the main party immediately westward toward Camp Independence; consequently, after reaching Grape-vine Springs, which, at the western slope of the foot-hills of a range of this name, faces upon the northwestern arm of the main Death Valley, the train moved to the north and westward, to Deep Spring Valley, reaching there a road, while a party of picked men took up their route nearly due west to reach Camp Independence, no matter what the intervening obstacles, and succeeded in this after suffering what, up to that time, had been some of the most bitter experience that had ever fallen under my observation.
At this rendezvous, as in fact at all others, the time used for the recuperation of animals and arranging for supplies was economically employed by the professional force in local investigation and the preliminary reduction of notes.
Lieutenant Lockwood, having been placed in charge of main party No. 2, was ordered to proceed well to the south, and then, turning to the eastward, to encircle several of the supposed interior and limited local basins, which, although lying in the natural profile which trends toward the Colorado, still are separate and inclosed. His party skirted the Sierras for a considerable distance below
The force was massed for the passage of Death Valley, and the camp in advance at Furnace Creek selected. The entrance to the valley was through a narrow, gorge-like cañon, presenting among its tortuous walls a variety of contour and color. The descent was very rapid, and the bed of the valley below, limited in horizon though the narrow opening by the far mountains to the eastward, met our eyes in strange and gloomy vibrations through the superheated atmosphere.
The cañon has been named after the valley, and photographic illustrations here made will give a far more tangible description than words can convey. Finally, one of the bugbears of the trip, that of crossing Death Valley, is over; this particular crossing was near the area of greatest depression, and Dr. Hoffman, with an assistant, was sent to the southward to take barometrical observations; he did not reach the point of greatest depression, however, but the observations from present rough calculations show a level below that of the sea. At our camp at Furnace Creek the thermometer at midnight recorded 109° F. This remarkable valley was crossed in four places.
The Amargosa Desert is next encountered, traversed, and camp made at its eastern edge. Here it became necessary to find the rendezvous that had been ordered to be established in the mountain range to the south and east, which result was determined only after much difficulty, owing partly to the surly nature of the Indians found here and the jaded condition of the men and animals of the command. Finally, intelligence was gotten through to the rendezvous, and their comparatively fresh animals did good service in bringing all the party to the camp, which had been selected at Cottonwood Springs, in a beautiful locality on the eastern slope of the Spring Mountain Range.
Prior to the establishing of the next rendezvous, the Colorado was to be crossed; a separate river party was to be organized and put in operation; the rendezvous itself was yet to be selected; also an escort from the Arizona side were to meet us at this point; the land forces were also to keep at work, up to their ordinary maximum capacity, and the plan for those operations, involving the points already mentioned as well as the seeming necessity of using the boats of the river party to cross the land forces at or near the foot of the Grand Cañon, had to be made up in advance, and with the knowledge that physical difficulties would prevent speedy communication in case of mishap. There was no small apprehension on my own part in regard to the success of the programme after it was made out. Subsequently, however, everything that was projected was accomplished, and
A guide was dispatched to meet the escort who were coming from Camp Hualapais as a re enforcement; these were to be directed to the rendezvous to be selected, and from thence the guide was to make his way to the northward, crossing the Colorado and reaching the main land camp; this he did with creditable ability and promptitude, and to his action alone belongs, in a measure, the success of the operations along this section. The crossing at the foot of the Grand Cañon was reached on the morning of the 4th of October, and on the evening of the 5th the entire expedition was most successfully crossed. One main line continued on directly to Truxton Springs; the remaining available force branched out in other directions. Meanwhile the boat party entered the jaws of the Grand Cañon, not knowing what was before them. Up to this time the rapids, though often very swift, had not been accompanied with heavy falls, and the estimate for the time requisite to reach the mouth of the Diamond Creek, (called ‘‘"Diamond River"’’ by Ives,)or the most desirable point at which to connect with the land camp, was based on our experience up to that time, with supposed due allowance for increasing difficulties, and so arranged in the instructions given to the relief parties.
Subsequent revelations showed how inadequate was this plan, and also the chances for suffering that may arise from want of careful judgment and forethought. However, on the 19th of October, after many difficulties, in comparison with which any other of the hardships and privations of the expedition sink in to insignificance, the exhausted boat party reached the mouth of Diamond Creek, and are next day gladdened by the sight of the relief party, who visited this point the second time to their assistance. This river trip, occupying only thirty-three days, was quite an exploration of itself, and will be given its due prominence in the final report.
The Mohave Indians accompanying us on this trip proved to be of invaluable assistance, and although several times wishing to desert, because of the tedious labor and their fear of the Pah-Utes, with whom they were at war, nevertheless proved faithful and industrious to the end.
The main line with the heavy train debouched to the southward, reaching the military road from Camp Mohave to Prescott, and then pushed on in advance to establish the camp. Main party No. 2 followed the rim of the watershed, dividing the waters that approach the Colorado direct and along the Grand Cañon, and those flowing toward tributaries that, joining, enter farther to the southward.
Lieutenant Lyle, with a picked escort, broke to the south and east, with Camp Date Creek as an objective point, and thence via Bradshaw mines to Prescott. Another side party visited the Hualapais district, detoured thence in its march to the southward, coming into the military road near Camp Hualapais, while still another party, going as far as Mohave, brought instruments, supplies, and data deposited there, hence to Prescott. The rendezvous at Prescott was completed November 6. Winter was coming on, and being at least three weeks late in reaching this locality,
The force, fairly organized, started out well in hand. Party No. 1 moving to the eastward across the Verde River at the caves, about thirty miles north of Camp Verde, thence in a nearly due straight line reaching the high mesa, and finally the northern end of San Francisco Mountains, about which detailed examinations were made, thence turning to the south and east. Camp Apache was an objective point, and the divide of the waters between the basin of the Little Colorado and those of the Verde and Salt Rivers was sensibly the line followed. We were troubled with some snow, and now and then unpleasant winds, all of which was agreeably modified after breaking from the mesa down into the Tonto Basin. The distance proved to be greater than was anticipated, and men and animals reached Apache much jaded.
Main party No. 2 had arrived at this same point a day or two previous, having crossed our line, reaching the Little Colorado, thence via head of the White Mountains. Only a short time was spent here, as, already so long in the field, nearly every one was threadbare and ready for rest.
Tucson was reached on the evening of the 5th of December, and preparations for disbanding already begun were hastened to a conclusion, and on the 11th everything had been disposed of and those of the parties who were to go either to San Francisco or Washington had departed. Seventy-one remaining mules, the property of the quartermaster's department, were turned over to the depot quartermaster, and forty-seven others, engineer property, were sold, with a view of being used as transportation in the coming campaign, and it is hoped that these, as also the several experienced packers, who remained, may be doing good service in the fight against the Apaches in the war, supposed already to have been commenced by General Crook, commanding the department.
Thus, in the windings in and out of the main and various detached parties a reconnaissance line of 6,327 miles has been traversed, or nearly twice the shortest distance from Washington to San Francisco. A little more than 83,000 square miles of territory has been examined, lying in the following-named political divisions: Nevada, 32,000; California, 19,000; Utah, 1,200; Arizona, 31,000. It is safe to say that five-eighths of this is new ground. The expense has been a little less than $1 per square mile; per square acre not to exceed sixteen one-hundredths cents.
The result has exceeded my most sanguine expectations, so much so that present experience would compel me to ask for two seasons to cover a similar-sized area, and it is hoped will contribute data worthy a place among the records of the Department in regard to this portion of our territory. The line has crossed the route of two railroads already projected, the Atlantic and Pacific, and Texas Pacific, along areas that will have to be traversed by the Utah Southern, and affords the requisite information for those routes north and south which are so much needed in the development
It may be said that much of this ground has been visited before, but, although the first party of recorded explorers, who visited sections familiar among the annals of this trip as early as 1540, more than three centuries ago, and have been succeeded by various parties subsequently up to the present time, still the operations of this season have but joined on to, elaborated upon, and to a certain extent completed their work, mapping sensibly only those portions hitherto known as unexplored instrumentally upon the able map of the Western States and Territories compiled in the Engineer Department by General G. K. Warren, at that time lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers.