CHAPTER XIII. THE SALT RIVER VALLEY—LOST ON A DESERT...
WE had left the Gila Bend, where the Gila makes a bold sweep from its eastward course—turns north and emerges into the Salt River—where it furnishes one of the richest valleys in the State. Our course now was to be over a section of country differing very much from our former travels along the Gila, and resembling in character the land similar to that left by the receding of some portions of the great sea. For miles, the land is composed of a rich sandy loam which, when irrigated, produces largely. There are nine thousand acres of land under cultivation in the Salt River valley alone. This character of land continues for ninety miles to Florence, from which point going eastward still, you enter a more mountainous country. This description of the land applies to the section from the Gila Bend to Florence with the exception of the first fifteen miles, which is spread over
On the 10th of December at 10.30 we arrived at the famous ‘‘Happy Camp’’—or rather a portion of our party did. We had intended pushing on that day across the desert to Maricopa Wells, but a mishap befel us, so we were compelled to remain the rest of the day on account of the loss of one of our party. The ease was after this wise:
Before arriving at the camp we lost sight of one of our wagons. We were not alarmed at this, however, thinking they had got on faster than we, or that they had taken another road, there being two. We arrived at the camp but the other portion of our party had not. We waited until twelve P. M. and then our fears began to be agitated, and a consultation being held by our party on the spot an hour after our arrival, it was declared that the other wagon must have been lost, and when those words ‘‘lost on the desert’’ fell upon my ear, a chill ran through my whole frame. Visions of the skeletons on the great Mojavé desert in the north, and the wayside graves along the Gila, came up before me and I felt lonely. We despatched at once a son of the station agent, who was experienced in all Indian trails and roads to seek after the missing party and guide them aright. At two P. M. cheers arose from our party at the camp, at the sight of the missing wagon
THE REGION OF THE ‘‘THOUSAND WELLS,’’ ON A HIGH ROCKY MESA.
‘‘Happy Camp’’ is an anomaly in its nomenclature; and yet the happiness we experienced in meeting our lost companions threw some light upon what might have possibly been the incentive to the title it now enjoys. How do we know what succor some wayfaring, depressed or perhaps, starving pioneer had received from a more successful traveler at this particular point. Or how from beneath the Apachés club, or the Navejò's tomahawk, some helpless one has been snatched by the timely arrival of some mountain trapper or mining prospector. It must have been some such condition as this that gained for this sterile, gloomy place, its ‘‘happy’’ name. It is situated on a barren tract at the root of a scattered, diminutive range of mountains, where the presumptuous cactus (Saguara) like a vaunting egotist, rears its haughty head and reigns supreme where it has no competing foe. Stretching far away over the crested billows of the rolling valley of the Gila can be seen the crested sentinels of the hills and plains.
At this station water has to be brought fifteen miles from the Gila River, and the charge of twenty-five cents per head is made for watering horses. I think the price was formerly one dollar; but from some advanced facilities in fetching it,—it hasrecently been reduced. ‘‘Happy Camp,’’ like many of the ‘‘Hotels of the desert’’ is nothing more than a camping spot, and combines all the vicissitudes as well as the ecstatic diversities of life on a frontier. The scenery around is dismal and the character of the little mountlets, mounds and peaks that hem us in close by, give the whole a dreary effect. But if interest alone, makes beauty in a thing, then this place would deserve emphatically the name of beautiful. One little event experienced here, I would not sell for any other one of the trip. When night came, always having the same interest in that great natural restorative sleep, as I have in the more material one mentioned by Artemus Ward of the ‘‘stumik,’’ became somewhat anxious for our place of repose. On this open, fruitless, barren, even grassless spot, we found no place to equal that of the corral where the mules had already been placed for shelter and repose. They had of course been put in
JUST IN FROM THE DESERT—GETTING READY FOR A SQUARE MEAL.
The propriety of turning the brute animals out was first considered; but some one who had evidently acquired the spirit of a ‘‘Bergh,’’ protested. Stating that if one of our party should be taken sick, or catch his death of cold, or die, it would not make so much difference, as we could really go on without him. But if our mules were to meet the like fate— ‘‘What would we do?’’ to be sure. We of course admitted the argument. As I write this, the thought suggests itself, how singularly the condition of things, or circumstances, will transverse the whole aspect of a case. At all events, as time progressed, it became more and more apparent that our lot was to be a bed in the manger; and as the fact forced itself upon us the novelty of it became more prominent. To humble our
‘‘I don't care,’’ said he a little irritably ‘‘“they never will be worth the paper the deed is made on. Besides,”’’said he, endeavoring to retain a little respect for his temper, ‘‘“you can only argue for a thing by what you know.”’’
He could not have said anything that would have given me better ground for my argument. The barometer for argument was rising in me. His last remark stirred an old theme, and I said; ‘‘“Yes, true, my dear sir, but here is just where your great error lies, and where man lacks a great mental scope; where acting upon what he knows only, he lays down theories, and allows no license for what he does not know. He unwittingly and virtually asserts there is nothing beyond what he does really know, which is the worst of all egotisms.”’’
The argument ended here. I learned afterward that this old man was dyspeptic, and had eaten nothing for either breakfast or dinner but a glass of cold water and a cracker. I had eaten on each occasion two beefsteaks, a broiled chicken on toast, about a quart of frejòles (Mexican beans), and all other things in proportion. He had to pay his dollar, however, as well as 1, this being the price of a meal in Arizona, whether it be a ‘‘square meal’’ or—or a meal at all. He was jealous of me. While I had paid due reverence to Artemus Ward's admonition to ‘‘always look out for your ‘stumik.’’’
At Maricopa Wells there is an oblong isolated mountain range—known as the Sa-de-la-Estrella—one end of which shows a most beautiful and perfect profile of the old historic chief of the Aztecs, Montezuma—so recognized by the tribes throughout the country. It is on the southern spur of the range. The mountains are named the Montezuma Mountains from this fact. I have never been able to see profiles with any accuracy or readiness; but I must confess that this profile of a human face carved or hewn in this rock by some gigantic power will show itself readily to ninety-nine out of every one hundred people. But if accuracy in detail of a mountain is to govern the
The Indians have a tradition that the famous Montezuma is buried in this mountain, and that some day he will come forward to deliver and redeem his people. This superstition extends south, way into Mexico. Not a stone of this mountain will any of the Indians in the neighborhood touch upon any consideration. So far does this legend of this natural statuary extend that even in Mexico I was told, when there in '74,
PAPAGO INDIAN WOMEN GOING FOR HAY.