WASHINGTON, D. C., February 28, 1872.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following preliminary report with regard to operations connected with your late expedition through Nevada and Arizona, and carried on under my immediate charge, being governed by instructions received from you from time to time.

Having reported to you at Camp Independence, California, August 1, 1871, in compliance with telegraphic instructions from the commanding general, Military Division of the Pacific, dated San Francisco, California, May 16, 1871, I on the following day assumed command of main party No. 2 of your expedition, as directed by the following order:


‘‘Rendezvous Camp near Independence, California, August 2, 1871.’’

‘‘[Special Field Orders No. 18.]’’

‘‘I. Lieutenant D.W. Lockwood, Corps of Engineers, having reported at these headquarters, will assume entire and permanent charge of main party No.2 of the expedition, for general instructions conforming to the spirit of paragraph 2 Special Orders No. 109, Adjutant General's Office, 18th of March, 1871, and the letter of the Chief of Engineers of March 23, 1871.’’

‘‘He will conduct this main line of the explorations along routes that will be from time to time designated to him, and while en route between rendezvous camps he will conduct his party precisely as if it were a separate expedition.’’

‘‘Besides his executive duties, he will take personal charge of sextant astronomical work, more particularly with a view to correct latitude stations.’’

‘‘Upon reaching Washington at the termination of the field labors of the explorations of this season, he will prepare at once a preliminary report of operations, to be followed as soon as practicable by a detailed report, accompanied by sub-reports of certain civilian assistants.’’


‘‘First Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers, Commanding Expedition.’’

The time from August 2 to August 10 was employed in refitting, &c., and on the latter date the party left Camp to proceed to Stump Springs, designated as the next point of rendezvous.

Your expedition having been in the field for several months at the time of reporting for duty, I found, upon assuming command of main party No. 2, the special organization for field-work complete, and would recommend the plan adopted by you as one particularly suited to the character of the country traversed, and the nature of the operations conducted under your charge during the past season.

The personnel of the party was changed, from time to time, but was always kept up in such a manner as to enable me to apply myself more particularly to duties of an administrative character and to daily astronomical work.

The departments of geology, mineralogy, and natural history were represented throughout the season, and the topographical department nearly all the time was in charge of Chief Topographer Louis Nell, who merits my full commendation for the skill and energy he displayed. The party was in the field under my charge from August 2 to December 4, 1871, and during that time traveled a distance of one thousand two hundred and eighty-nine miles en route from Camp

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Independence, California, to Tucson, Arizona Territory, the general course being as follows: Down Owen's River Valley to Desert Wells; thence east to the Cottonwoods via the Amargosa River; from the Cottonwoods to Saint George, on the old Salt Lake road; thence south down the Grand Wash to the Ute crossing on the Colorado River. The passage of the river having been effected with the assistance of the boat parties, the Colorado plateau was followed to Truxton Springs, Arizona Territory. Leaving this point, Prescott was reached via Young's Spring and Bill Williams's Mountain, passing around its northern slope. From here the route to Tucson was via Camp Verde and Sunset Crossing on the Colorado Chiquito to Camp Apache; thence via old Camp Pinal to the place mentioned.

The main object of the expedition, as indicated in the letter of instructions from the Chief of Engineers, dated Engineer Office, Washington, D. C., March 23, 1871, being the obtaining of correct topographical knowledge of the area traversed, and its embodiment in an accurate map, the principal labors were in carrying out this requirement. The plan adopted was the same as in 1869, the different points along the route being located by triangulation with a Cassella theodolite, and the length of base line determined by odometer measurements.

The positions of camps, as determined by this method, were corrected by astronomical observations, the instruments used being sextant 2831 by Troughton and Simms, and mean solar chronometers. Whenever circumstances would permit of it, equal altitudes of the sun were taken for time, and circum-meridian altitudes of the same body for latitude. Generally, however, as the camps along the route were only for one night, east and west stars were taken for time and Polaris for latitude. By comparison of the results thus obtained with those determined at the main astronomical stations, where a transit and zenith instrument combined was used, the probable error of latitude, at least, can be reduced to a very small limit.

With regard to the topographical features of the area passed over, the changes were so frequent and so complete that no general description will suffice for the whole, and I therefore shall present this subject more in detail with regard to locality than would otherwise be necessary. Some idea, however, of the change in character of topographical features along the route traveled may be formed when the nature of the transition from the desert valleys and lofty, rugged, volcanic mountains of Southern California to the elevated plateau bordering the Colorado River, and generally Northern Arizona, is fully understood.

On the 10th of August the party left Independence and followed Owen's River Valley to its southern extremity. Desert Springs was the most southern point reached on the march to the rendezvous camp at Cottonwood Springs, Nevada; thence the line of travel was nearly due east, and most of the time followed the wagon-trail from Visalia, California, to the Ivanpah mines. This road crosses several ranges of mountains and is only available for wagons lightly loaded. In the vicinity of Camp Independence the ranges bordering the valley (that of Owen's River) are high, steep, and rugged, the Sierras on the west being in some localities quite heavily wooded. A large number of streams make down from these mountains and flow into Owen's River, and it is to these natural irrigation ditches that the valley owes its importance as an agricultural region. Many fine ranches are located all down the valley as far as near the lake, twenty-three miles from Independence, but below that point only the regular stations established at the springs along the road are met with.

The mountains grow lower as progress is made toward the south, in some places becoming mere rolling hills; this is particularly the case near the divide, between the Inyo and Coso Ranges, on the eastern side of the valley, where a broad expanse of country could be seen stretching off toward the Amargosa River and having all the appearance of being a perfect desert.

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Desert Springs, one hundred and nineteen miles from Camp Independence, was reached August 15. The principal topographical features of interest noticed between Desert Springs and the Cottonwoods was the character of the valleys traversed. These valleys are simply inclosed basins, with a gradual slope to the south, terminating, in nearly every instance, in an alkali lake, generally dry. This is the case with Owen's River Valley, which, without doubt, formerly was drained into Needle Valley, where the waters, which now disappear by evaporation, and sinking into the earth at the two lakes below Independence, formerly lost themselves, leaving behind their saline constituents; and so on to the east, the presence of these flats or dry lakes indicate the localities of the sinks of waters which are drained from the high grounds of the valleys to the north and the mountains on either side.

The Amargosa River, about the course of which there has been considerable question, was carefully examined, and the result is as follows: nothing definite could be determined with regard to its source, but its general course was from the north to the south, and, making a complete change of direction about a point of rugged, volcanic mountains, near which Saratoga Spring is situated, it turns to the north again in the direction of Telescope Peak, on the western side of Death Valley; this would seem to indicate that Death Valley and the western branch of the valley of the Amargosa are the same. The results of my observations lead me to conclude that such is the case.

The general direction of the river, after turning to the north, can be followed for a long distance, running off into a deep desert valley; the mountains bordering it rise up, rugged and steep, with no foot-hills of any importance.

The country drained by the tributaries of the Amargosa extends east and west from Clarke Mountain, in the Ivanpah mining district, to Leach's Point, and the only indication of the existence of a river in this region is the bed, or wash, which marks its course. The character of the soil is such that the water sinks throughout the whole course of the stream, while the amount that disappears by evaporation, in consequence of the extreme heat that prevails throughout the year, is immense.

While at Saratoga Spring the thermometer indicated, between 4 and 5 p. m., a temperature of 112° F. in the shade, and at 9 p. m. the difference between the dry and wet bulb was 30°.

Nothing can exceed the utter desolation of this portion of California; the only vegetation that could be seen was an extremely scanty growth of greasewood, and even this disappears near the bottom of the valley, while for miles the river's banks are marked by a heavy deposition of various salts.

The soil on the higher ground is sandy and barren, and lower down is of a dark, reddish-brown color, and, at the time we passed, of about the consistency of stiff mortar, and yet there was no water on the surface; one ordinary rain would have rendered the course taken impracticable, and have necessitated a long detour to the south through the heavy sand.

At Saratoga Springs the water is warm and very alkaline. A scanty growth of grass about the spring afforded some relief to the eye, after the dull monotony of the surrounding desert, but not to the poor animals, who appear to derive but little benefit from it, and were growing visibly weaker each day. The water of the next spring to the east contains a large amount of salt in addition to the other ordinary alkaline ingredients, peculiar to the waters of this region. Only a very few of the animals would drink at this point, and they appeared to suffer considerably from so doing.

Ivanpah was reached on the 27th of August. No examination was made of the mines, you having expressed an intention of doing so yourself. So far as I could determine, however, the principal veins were quite narrow, and the ore in some cases very rich in silver.

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Cottonwood Springs were reached August 30, without accident; from this point to Truxton Springs main party No. I was placed under my command with Lieutenant Lyle in executive charge. The following extract from Special Field Orders No. 20, dated September 2, 1871, will explain the character of my duties:

‘‘The interval from the departure of the river party from this camp, about September 7 to the 5th of October, will be occupied in examination by the main expedition, in Southeastern Nevada, Southwestern Utah, and to the point of crossing of the Colorado, the arrangements being somewhat as follows:’’

‘‘A small topographical party, in charge of F. R. Simonton, will proceed via Las Vegas Ranch to Mormon Wells, or Sheep Mountain Springs, north and cast from Gass Peak, on Vegas Range; thence via head-waters of the Muddy, to join one of the main parties at the crossing of the old Salt Lake road. Another topographical party will be detached at Saint Joseph, to go via Saint Thomas, Salt Mountain, and across the Virgin Range. North and east to Saint George the main line of the expedition will continue along the old Salt Lake road as far as Saint George. From the old California crossing still another party will be detached to proced, via Mormon Cañon, Clover Valley, Shoal Creek, Mountain Meadows, &c., to Saint George. These will be known respectively as side parties 1, 2, and 3; the selection of persons to fill these parties will be made at once. A small topographical party will ascend Charleston Peak and return to this camp.’’

‘‘After reaching Saint George, the examinations should be along the area about the southeast corner of the reconnaissance map of 1869, and must be selected after reaching the above-named point. Probably routes may be selected along either side of the Buckskin Range of mountains, which at this locality is supposed to be a continuation of Wahsatch.’’

‘‘If possible, the best camp nearest the river, on a line sensibly joining Saint George and the point of crossing, should at once be selected for the rendezvous of the expedition. From this camp, Lieutenant Lyle, in charge of a small party of observation, will go out to select a favorable point at which to cross the river, which will take place upon the boats of the river party, this point being selected prior to the 5th proximo, with a view to a good camp, if possible, as well as a favorable outlet toward the south. Upon the arrival of the boat party at this point, immediate information will be sent to the land parties, who will at once make a hurried march for the river, where they will be crossed, and continue on at once to Peacock Springs. A small party of observation will remain at this point, and the boat party will continue the ascent of the river, reaching the cañon at the mouth of the Diamond River, if possible, to which point a party of relief and observation will be sent from Peacock Springs to take the party to camp. The time necessary for this party to wait at the mouth of the Diamond River cannot be stated until at the crossing of the river.’’

‘‘In case the boat party Cannot reach the above-mentioned point they will fall back upon the small party of observation at the crossing, which, in consequence, must be re-enforced by riding and pack animals from Peacock Springs, after the main expedition shall have reached this point.’’

‘‘Lieutenant Lockwood is hereby placed in command of all the land parties, and Lieutenant Lyle in executive charge of main party No. 1, while both parties are together, and in entire and absolute charge of this party when it shall be separate.’’


‘‘First Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers, Commanding Expedition.’’

Side parties were sent to Charleston Peak and Mormon Well. The march was resumed on the 15th of September, and on the 20th the Muddy River was reached, the march across the Vegas desert, forty-six miles long, having been made without accident. From here a side party was sent off via Clover Valley and Shoal Creek, to rejoin the expedition at Saint George. The wagon was sent across the desert to the same place via the old Salt Lake road, and the main parties followed up the Virgin River, reaching Saint George the 26th of September.

The country in the neighborhood of the Muddy River having been examined in 1869, and a report with regard to it made by yourself, I shall confine myself, concerning this locality, to speak simply of the changes that have taken place since then.

In 1869 the two settlements of Saint Joe and Saint Thomas were thriving towns, as Mormon industry is understood, while West Point, only just settled, bade fair, in time to equal them in agricultural benefits and population. These settlements are now all deserted by their former inhabitants, they having left owing to the establishment of the fact that the places mentioned were in

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the State of Nevada. I was informed that the people who formerly lived here are now settled some where in Arizona, about two hundred miles to the east of Saint George. The improvements at Saint Joe and at Saint Thomas have been sold to (so called) Gentiles, and will in time constitute valuable properties as the mineral resources of the adjacent country are opened up and markets for the products thus furnished. West Point has been left to the Indians, who show their appreciation of this act of compulsory generosity on the part of the Mormons by increased impudence (were that posible) to people passing near them.

This valley is one that, especially in the upper part, is capable of grazing a large amount of stock; all the cañons and washes leading down to the river are, as a general thing, heavily grassed, while the only water in the country around being that in the river, herding would be a simple matter.

The Virgin Mountains limit the valley of the river of that name to the east, and extend in an almost unbroken chain to within fifteen miles of Saint George, where the river breaks through them; in some parts these mountains are heavily wooded. To the west of the river a high mesa extends to the irregular, broken mountains lying east of the Mormon range. This mesa is cut up here and there by washes which carry the surface-waters to the Virgin River; formerly it was the scene of much suffering on the part of emigrants en route to Southern California, as the only water ever found is that which has collected in tanks and these dry up during the summer. Two roads cross it; one direct from Saint George, striking the Muddy near the old California crossing, and one which follows the river down to the Virgin Hill, and thence over to Saint Joe. This hill is practically impassable since the Mormons have abandoned the Muddy settlements, on account of the rain having washed off all the earth, leaving only the bare strata of rocks, which terminate in an abrupt staircase formation, extremely difficult even for loose animals.

Lieutenant Lyle was sent from Saint Thomas eastward over the Virgin Range of mountains, to find a suitable place for a temporary camp near the river, where the main parties might rendezvous until your arrival up the river at the point of crossing. A point near Pah-Koon Springs was selected by him as answering the above requirement.

The camp at Saint George was broken on the morning of October 1, and leaving Lieutenant Lyle in charge, I pushed forward to the river with a small party to select a point at which the crossing should be made. The route taken was down the Grand Wash, or near it; the Mormons had broken a sort of wagon-trail at some time in the past down this wash or cañon, and this was followed so far as practicable. I had expected, from previous information, to find a high range of mountains designated as the Buckskin Range, lying to the east of the Virgin Mountains, and limiting the area drained by the Grand Wash in that direction; instead, however, only an elevated mesa was seen, which near the river assumed a steep and rugged character, occasioned by the constunt wash, in past ages, of waters seeking a lower level in the bed of the Colorado. For twenty miles north of the river the western edge of this mesa is nearly vertical, and curiously marked with bands of different colors, showing the stratification. To the north this mesa joins a vast wooded plateau, which extends to what is called Hurricane Valley, on the Virgin River, forty miles above Saint George.

Your opportune arrival with your boats the morning after I reached the river, rendered it unnecessary for the train to remain any length of time at Pah-Koon Springs, and on the morning of October 6th everything was across the river and ready to proceed to Truxton Springs. The freight was ferried over on the evening of the 5th, requiting only four hours, and the animals swam the stream the next morning. One horse had a leg broken among the rocks; otherwise there was no accident of any kind. Truxton Springs were reached on the evening of October 10th, where the detachment of C troop, Third Cavalry, detailed as escort, had already arrived.

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The first march out from the river was to Tin-na-kah Springs, near the foot of what is known as the Colorado Plateau. The trail to it leads up a broad wash, the formation continuing for some distance the same as on the river. The walls of the cañon are nearly vertical for a long distance, and are marked by the different strata in various colors; gradually, however, the country assumes an alluvial character, the sandy washes and the sterile gravel mesas giving place to grassy plateaus and occasional mesquit, and then little clumps of cedars attest the increased fertility of the soil.

Several rugged peaks and ridges are found near Tin-na-kah, and all are more or less volcanic in their formation and character. Ten miles from the springs the trail strikes up on to the main plateau. From here a fine view of the country north of the Colorado could be obtained. The North Side Mountain, a high conical peak, could be seen standing out alone on the vast mesa beyond the Grand Cañon; but no range that occupied the locality assigned to the Buckskin Mountains could be observed. I ant inclined to believe that the name has been erroneously given to the edge of the plateau, which extends on to the north from the mouth of the Grand Cañon. This vast plateau extends over the whole of Northern Arizona, from near Hualapais Valley to the east. Throughout its whole extent, at least that portion which I passed over, the rolling hills are, as a general thing, covered with grass. The trail, after attaining the summit of the plateau, follows along its western edge, bordering Hualapais Valley until within eight miles of Truxton Springs, at which point it descends a steep hill, and gaining a sandy wash lower down, follows it out to near its mouth, where the springs are situated. Upon my arrival here I found the rations that were to have been there had not arrived. The two wagons that had been sent along to furnish transportation for the escort from Hualapais were immediately despatched to Camp Mohave for supplies, and Lieutenant Lyle, with a small escort, went on to Hualapais to bring the mail and obtain such articles as were most needed.

Dr. Hoffman was sent to the mouth of the Diamond Creek, but by some mistake did not take the right trail, and went on to Young's Spring. On the 18th Mr. Loring came in, bringing a dispatch from you, and on the following morning I took charge of a small party of relief to meet you at the mouth of the Diamond Creek. The trail to that point leads up a box cañon from Truxton, and passing over a rolling divide, gains a side cañon, which joins the Diamond Creek about two miles from its mouth. Peach Spring is situated about midway. The cañon leading into Diamond Creek is of the same general character as all the Colorado cañons, having steep, rugged wallS, in some places nearly vertical, and unbroken for a height of one thousand feet or more. In the vicinity of Peach Spring the slopes are wooded with cedar, and the whole country traversed covered with grass, except in the gravelly beds of the washes. On the 21st the party started back. reaching Truxton on the evening of the 22d.


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