Journal of a Trip Across the Plains to Oregon
Samuel N. Woodruff
Contributed by Don DuBois
Note: Copies of the original diary can be obtained through the University of Washington Library.
Tuesday, April 6: I left the beautiful village of Platteville and gave the hand in parting to parents, brothers, sisters, and friends and proceeded to Blue River and joined the company for Oregon. Remained there until:
Tuesday, April 13: We set out for that distant portion of Uncle Sam's dominions, traveled ten miles, and stopped for the night at a Mrs. Heath's.
(no further entries until:)
Wednesday, April 21: Lay by.
Thursday, April 22: Lay by.
Friday, April 23: Traveled about ten miles and camped out in the rain at Philep's.
Saturday, April 24: Passed through Jamestown and put up over Sunday four miles from Eagle Point.
Sunday, April 25: Lay by.
Monday, April 26: Crossed the Father of Waters at Eagle Point and camped two miles north of Dubuque.
Tuesday, April 27: Passed through Dubuque and traveled about eight miles on the Cedar Rapids road, and stopped the night with an Irishman.
Wednesday, April 28: Crossed Prairie Creek and Whitewater. Camped near Cascade.
Thursday, April 29: Crossed Macuota at Cascade and stopped in an old house belonging to a cousin of Mrs. Chapman, as one of the hands had pleurisy.
Friday, April 30: Lay by.
Saturday, May 1: Lay by.
Sunday, May 2: Lay by.
Monday, May 3: Traveled 20 miles. Crossed the Wapspinoia and camped four miles south of Anamosa.
Tuesday, May 4: Traveled 23 miles and camped in open timber one mile from Cedar Rapids.
Wednesday, May 5: Got ferried over Cedar River and traveled 13 miles. Camped on a stream in Scotch Grove.
Thursday, May 6: Rainy day. Lay by.
Friday, May 7: Traveled 15 miles and camped on the flats of the Iowa River.
Saturday, May 8: Got ferried over the Iowa River, traveled eight miles, and camped in a grove without feed.
Sunday, May 9: Having no feed we traveled on, got onto a prairie, and camped without wood.
Monday, May 10: Traveled 18 miles across prairie all the way, camped out on Sugar Creek. First good grass we saw.
Tuesday, May 11: Crossed north branch of Skunk River, took on wood, and camped on the prairie.
Thursday, May 13: Traveled 18 miles and camped on Des Moines River in a severe thunder storm.
Friday, May 14: Got ferried over the Des Moines and Racoon Rivers, and camped on a small stream in Polk County.
Saturday, May 15: Traveled 20 miles and camped on a small stony stream.
Sunday, May 16: Chapman called for us to get up the teams and we traveled against the will of nearly all the company. Passed through Winterset, the county seat of Madison County. Took on wood and set out to cross 25 Mile Prairie. Camped in a ravine by a small spring.
Monday, May 17: Finished crossing 25 Mile Prairie. Passed through a narrow skirt of timber and entered 35 Mile Prairie. Camped on a slough.
Tuesday, May 18: Traveled 18 miles, crossed Otter Creek, bad crossing, and camped in a ravine.
Wednesday, May 19: Traveled 25 miles and camped on the Nishabotna River.
Thursday, May 20: Crossed a large prairie and camped on a small stream 28 miles from Council Bluffs.
Friday, May 21: Traveled 14 miles in a severe rain storm. Passed through a settlement of Mormons who were all preparing to emigrate to the Promised Land. Camped on a creek 14 miles from Council Bluffs. (Low sickly country.)
Saturday, May 22: Got ferried over the Nishanabotna, came on sight of some singular looking bluffs. Passed through the village of Kanesville and camped on the banks of the Missouri at the ferry. We arrived here at Council Bluffs just 32 days from Wingville, having lain-by seven days and traveled 25 days.
Sunday, May 23: Lay by at the ferry. Got a letter from home.
Monday, May 24: Lay by.
Tuesday, May 25: Commenced crossing the Missouri. Worked hard on the boats all day and only got our wagons over.
Wednesday, May 26: Finished crossing the Missouri and traveled ten miles. Camped on a hill without water. Commenced guarding our cattle.
Thursday, May 27: Traveled about 20 miles. Got ferried over Elkhorn River. Got out of the territory of the Omaha Indians and entered that of the Pawnees. Camped on a small creek.
Friday, May 28: Traveled 17 miles. Got stopped by the Pawnee Indians who tried to get some of our cattle, but we took our guns and drove them off. Struck the Platte River. Stopped to camp but the Indians were so numerous and exhibited so hostile an appearance that we prepared our arms for a fight. We were 22 in number and the Indians were some hundreds, but three men armed themselves and came back from a camp six miles ahead to get us to go and camp with them. So we started, keeping out a van and rear guard. Some Indians followed and stole a shirt and pants from a wagon cover put there to dry. Got camped on a small lake about midnight. We were now in a train of 25 wagons.
Saturday, May 29: Saw many Indians. Came to Shell Creek, where the early immigrants had built a bridge. The Indians were charging 25 cents toll on each wagon that passed over it. Some refused to pay toll, and the Indians tried to drive their cattle off the bridge which made much noise and confusion. At the same time an Indian threatened to kill a woman because she would not give him more to eat, and he drew his kife. The woman's husband, seeing it, seized his gun and shot him in the back. At the crack of a gun 70 or 80 Indians sprang up from the brush and started toward the wagons. We then opened a general fire upon them and three fell dead and six or eight wounded. The rest fled. We then went on about four miles and joined two other companies and camped near a marsh with the expectation that the Indians would be out for revenge before morning, but they did not molest us.
Sunday, May 30: Traveled until three o'clock P.M. Camped on Long Lake.
Monday, May 31: Traveled some 18 miles. Struck Soup Fork River, passed by the ferry, and started for the ford (30 miles above). Camped on a clear stream called Looking Glass Creek.
Tuesday, June 1: Traveled 15 miles, forded Beaver River, and camped on Ash Creek (good spring).
Wednesday, June 2: Forded Ash Creek and Soup Fork River (58 rods wide), and camped on the bottom land.
Thursday, June 3: Traveled 30 miles and camped at a well without wood, and out of sight of timber.
Friday, June 4: Travled out of sight of wood all day, and camped near Prairie Creek (flat sickly country).
Saturday, June 5: Forded over Wood River and passed a company that had the cholera and had buried six in 29 hours. Camped at noon on a slough of Platte River to do our washing. Very cold and rainy.
Sunday, June 6: Chapman's part of the company traveled, though the majority were opposed to it. Camped at 3:00 on a slough of the Platte River. Very sickly here.
Monday, June 7: Traveled 20 miles and camped on a steep ravine 207 miles from Council Bluffs.
Tuesday, June 8: Crossed Elm Creek in the afternoon. Mr. Griswold was taken with cholera, so we camped on Buffalo Creek and did all we could for him.
Wednesday, June 9: Mr. Griswold died at daylight. We buried him at sunrise rolled up in a blanket and buffalo robe. Yoked our teams and drove on. Camped on Platte River.
Thursday, June 10: Traveled 20 miles and saw 50 new graves. Saw many wagons on the south side of the Platte (from St. Joseph). Camped on a spring slough in sight of the river.
Friday, June 11: Traveled 18 miles over very sandy road and camped near the mouth of Skunk Creek.
Saturday, June 12: Camped at noon with a sick hand on Pawnee Swamp.
Sunday, June 13: Lay by on Pawnee Swamp. The sick man had cholera but recovered.
Monday, June 14: Passed two large clear springs, forded Black Mud Creek, and camped on Grass Creek.
Tuesday, June 15: Passed last timber, are on a space of 200 miles without timber. Sandy land and many prickly pears. Saw two men going through with a hand cart. Crossed many bluffs through deep sand, and camped on Buffalo Creek.
Wednesday, June 16: Sandy roads, crossed Wolf Creek, two small creeks, and several sloughs and Duck Creek. Camped on Rattlesnake River.
Thursday, June 17: Forded over Rattlesnake river, had marshy roads for several miles. Crossed Camp Creek, ascended a steep sandy bluff, then came down onto Prairie River. It then began to sprinkle with scarce a cloud to be seen. It soon rained hard, and then began to hail, and we had one of the hardest kinds of hail storms. Had great difficulty in keeping our cattle from running off. We all got badly pelted and some teams on the other side of the river ran into it and were drowned. The bluffs on the other side of the river were white with hail. We camped in hail six inches deep. Cold, cold, cold.
Friday, June 18: Traveled four or five miles, much of the way over beds of hail. Passed by the lone tree, which is Cedar with all its limbs cut off (cut down now), camped two miles above it to dry our things.
Saturday, June 19: Traveled 20 miles. One hand left the company (from abuse). Crossed Castel River and camped on the bank of the Platte River.
Sunday, June 20: Traveled 25 miles, crossed Crai? Creek, and camped near ancient bluff ruins which resemble castles, forts, etc., in ruins.
Monday, June 21: Had sandy road, wild sage begins to appear. Came in sight of Chimney Rock (south of Platte), camped on Platte River.
Tuesday, June 22: Had good roads, passed by Chimney Rock, camped one mile from the road to get feed. On Platte River.
Wednesday, June 23: Passed two muddy sloughs. Left a bull behind. His feet were worn to the quick. Passed by Spring Creek and camped on Spring Slough.
Thursday, June 24: Passed Blue Rock and camped on a spring slough.
Friday, June 25: Came to timber, the first for 200 miles, at 9:00 A.M. Came in sight of Laramie Peak, one of the eastern spurs of the Rocky Mountain. Camped at Dead Timber (wild currants plentiful here).
Saturday, June 26: Arrived opposite Fort Laramie at noon. All well. 30 days from Council Bluffs. Our cattle in good condition, lost one head out of 40.
Sunday, June 27: Had to leave the Fort lest our cattle starve, so we traveled seven or eight miles, crossed an alkali stream, and passed the U.S. Farm. Camped on Platte River.
Monday, June 28: Had hilly country (Black Hills). Stunted Pine and Cedar timber. Traveled 20 miles and camped on a hill.
Tuesday, June 29: Had good road. Met three men packing home from California. Crossed two streams and camped on the east side of a hill.
Wednesday, June 30: Traveled until noon, then camped to do our washing, on the Platte River.
Thursday, July 1: Had good roads, camped on Platte two miles off the road to get feed.
Friday, July 2: Had hilly roads, broke one hind wheel off a wagon and camped on Platte River.
Saturday, July 3: Built a cart out of the broken wagon. Started about noon, camped early to swim our cattle over the Platte to get feed. Three men went in to swim over to see if the feed was good. Before they got over, one of the (George Henderson of Fairfield, Iowa) went under and drowned before we could get help to him. I stripped off my clothes and quick as possible and plunged into the river to help him. Two others went in too, but we could not even find his body.
Sunday, July 4: The 76th anniversary of American independence. Lay by.
Monday, July 5: Three wagon tires came off before noon. A very cold day, had to wear three coats and mittens. Camped on the Platte River.
Tuesday, July 6: Traveled 16 miles. Heard that Henderson's body had been found and buried, six miles below where he was drowned. Camped in a grove.
Wednesday, July 7: Passed the upper ferry on Platte and left the river for good, having traveled up it 700 miles. Ascended a long hill, passed two alkali lakes, and camped amongst the wild sage without water or grass. Long space of poor feed.
Thursday, July 8: Passed mineral springs, good water. Camped at Willow Springs. Good water, no grass.
Friday, July 9: Crossed Greasewood Creek and went five miles to the left for feed. Camped on Sweetwater.
Saturday, July 10: Lay by on Sweetwater. Saw three of the Platteville boys: Pro Bevans, Henry Gribble, and James Mitchel.
Sunday, July 11: Lay by. We were camped in a romantic place nearly surrounded by mountains whose tips were reared above the clouds, while we were on a beautiful grassy bottom on the banks of the Sweetwater. We here listened to a sermon by the Rev. Mr. West from the text Exodus 14-15: "Speak unto the Children of Israel that they go forward." It was a time never to be forgotten, here among the mountains, surrounded by the savage red men of the forest, to hear a sermon preached from the word of God, is a new era in the history of the overland route to the Pacific slope.
Monday, July 12: Found our horses missing. Myself and William March went back after them. Went to Willow Springs, 20 miles, stayed overnight. Two men came back after us, they had found the horses, and drive on at noon.
Tuesday, July 13: Set out to overtake the company, traveled 30 miles by 2:00, passed Rock Independence which is solid granite, 200 feet high and covering 160 acres of ground. Found our company waiting for us five miles below Devil's Gate. Lay by.
Wednesday, July 14: I went with another man to go through Devil's Gate. It is about 40 feet wide and 500 feet high, through which the Sweetwater forces its way. Forded Sweetwater and went two miles to the right of the road for feed, and camped.
Thursday, July 15: Crossed Sweetwater, passed in between two high mountains and crossed Sweetwater twice in a quarter mile. Went three miles to left of road for feed. Camped on Sweetwater.
Friday, July 16: Passed over a high rocky ridge, came in sight of a number of snow peaks of the Wind River Mountains over 100 miles distant. Crossed Ford No. 6 (Sweetwater), very sandy road. Camped not far from Ford No. 7.
Saturday, July 17: Crossed Fords 7 and 8. Passed a trading post, and camped at noon. Drove cattle four miles to the right of road for feed.
Sunday, July 18: Lay by.
Monday, July 19: Passed over two mountains. Dreadful rough road. Went three miles to the left of road for feed. Camped on Sweetwater.
Tuesday, July 20: Crossed last for of Sweetwater, No. 9, and ascended the mountain toward the South Pass. Passed through it, altitude 7,680. The ascent is so gradual that it is difficult to tell where the exact summit is. First rate roads. Came to Pacific Springs, the headwaters of the Colorado of California. Crossed Pacific Creek and went two miles left of road for feed. Camped on Pacific Creek.
Wednesday, July 21: Traveled 19 miles over good road, but no feed. Camped on Little Sandy. Drove our cattle 12 miles up the creek for feed (poor at that).
Thursday, July 22: Lay by to rest our cattle. I was taken with the mountain fever, but broke it very quick.
Friday, July 23: Got our cattle and drove eight miles to Big Sandy. Lay there until 4:00 P.M. Took in water to cross a space of 50 miles without water. Drove all night on good road, at daylight went down a bad hill. Took breakfast on a hill on Saturday, 24th. Had hilly roads, one hill a quarter of a mile long and pitch 30 degrees. Double rough-locked and got down in safety, arriving at Green River about 5:00 P.M., our cattle and ourselves having undergone almost constant fatigue for 40 hours and having in that time traveled 70 miles without feed--the last 50 of it without water. Ferried our wagons and swam our cattle. Camped on west side of Green River.
Sunday, July 25: Went three miles up a small clear river to get feed. Lay by the rest of the day. Plenty of trout and gooseberries.
Monday, July 26: Lay by.
Tuesday, July 27: Lay by until noon, then traveled 11 miles. Camped on grass. Very hilly road.
Wednesday, July 28: Had very rough roads. Passed by mountain springs, ascended a hill, and camped at a spring at the right of the road. Drove cattle one mile for grass.
Thursday, July 29: Descended two tremendous hills, went over a mountain, and camped on Hams Branch of Frass River (Shoshone Indians here).
Friday, July 30: Ascended a steep hill two miles long, then had good smooth road until noon. Then ascended a long hill through a grove of Fir trees, ascended an outrageously bad hill, and camped on Stony Creek.
Saturday, July 31: Descended the worst hill on the whole road (dividing ridge between Green River and Salt Lake Valley). Struck Bear River and camped on Smiths Fork. Bear River empties into Salt Lake. Lay by from noon.
Sunday, August 1: Lay by.
Monday, August 2: Lay by.
Tuesday, August 3: Lay by. Plenty of mountain currants here.
Wednesday, August 4: Crossed Thomas Fork of Bear River, and camped near a small spring in Utah Territory.
Thursday, August 5: Traveled 12 miles and camped on Bear River.
Friday, August 6: Traveled 12 miles on Bear River and camped on same.
Saturday, August 7: Traveled 17 miles and camped a mile to the right of the road at a large spring in a Cedar grove.
Sunday, August 8: Lay by. Heard a sermon by Rev. Mr. Tibbet.
Monday, August 9: Passed by the Soda Bar or Steamboat Springs, which are a great curiosity boiling up on level ground and solidifying. Forms a hill of scarlet hue from six to 20 feet high, then breaks out in another place. One of them spouts to a height of 16 or 18 inches.
Tuesday, August 10: Traveled on level roads until noon, then up hill. Camped on side of a mountain. Service berries here and for 20 miles ahead.
Wednesday, August 11: Crossed the dividing ridge between waters of Salt Lake and the waters of the Columbia, and camped on a small stream 15 miles from Fort Hall.
Thursday, August 12: Entered Lewis or Snake River Valley. Passed by Fort Hall. Camped one mile east of the residence of the Agent of the American Fur Company.
Friday, August 13: Passed the residence of the Agent of the American Fur Company. Forded a large river, so deep that we had to raise our wagon beds to get over. Camped on Pannuck.
Saturday, August 14: Passed the American Falls on Snake River, and camped on Warm Water Creek, which comes from two warm springs.
Sunday, August 15: Lay by until afternoon, then drove six or seven miles to get to borders of a desert of 27 miles. Camped on Snake River.
Monday, August 16: Traveled 15 miles without water, and camped on a marshy creek. Very dusty.
Tuesday, August 17: Traveled 15 miles perfectly smothered with dust, and camped on Raft River.
Wednesday, August 18: Traveled 18 miles, crossed Goosen Creek, went two miles to the right of road for feed, and camped on Snake River.
Thursday, August 19: Lay by.
Friday, August 20: Traveled 19 miles and camped on Cut Rock Creek.
Saturday, August 21: Traveled 21 miles and camped on Rock Creek without feed.
Sunday, August 22: We were on a desert, traveled 15 miles and camped on the top of a bluff 1,100 feet above Snake River. Brought our water up to the bluff.
Monday, August 23: Started at noon, traveled ten miles and camped on Snake.
Tuesday, August 24: I left Chapman's company and traveled on six miles to Salmon Falls. Saw many beautiful springs that fell 30 or 40 feet into Snake River. Joined Davis Company for a few days. Camped near a beautiful spring.
Wednesday, August 25: Traveled six miles and camped on a spring to do our washing. Good feed and water.
Thursday, August 26: Traveled 23 miles and camped on a small creek.
Friday, August 27: Lay by until noon, then traveled six miles and camped near some pool water.
Saturday, August 28: Traveled 16 miles, stopped and got our supper, then went on four or five miles and camped without water.
Sunday, August 29: Traveled a while in the morning, then lay by until afternoon, then drove eight miles and camped on a small creek. Poor feed along here.
Monday, August 30: Traveled 18 miles, passed by a number of boiling springs which are absolutely boiling. Camped on a small creek.
Tuesday, August 31: Crossed Charlotte Creek, and on the side of a mountain.
Wednesday, September 1: Traveled eight miles to water before breakfast. Lay by until near night, then drove until near midnight. Camped on a hill without water.
Thursday, September 2: Traveled 23 miles and camped on Boise River, the clearest stream I ever saw.
Friday, September 3: Saw two men going through on foot, so I left Davis company and went ahead on foot. Davis was short on provisions. Traveled six miles and stopped overnight with a company from Missouri.
Saturday, September 4: Traveled 40 miles, struck Snake River at Fort Boise, lay on ground without a blanket.
Sunday, September 5: Crossed Snake River and traveled 15 miles to Malheur River. Took a wrong road which carried us out of our way 18 miles. Stopped and lay down by a small stream.
Monday, September 6: Got up at daylight, found the road, and traveled 22 miles before we found a train to get any breakfast. Traveled 55 miles without eating.
Tuesday, September 7: Traveled 30 miles, crossed Birch Creek, struck Snake River for the last time, stopped at Burnt River. Could get no supper because all were out of provisions. Lay down until we got cold, then traveled on.
Wednesday, September 8: Traveled eight miles and got breakfast with a train from Arkansas, then traveled 30 miles and stayed overnight with some Quakers from Iowa. Sold my gun for $3.00.
Thursday, September 9: I had a very bad boil on my great toe, so I could only go 15 miles. The other two men went on and took my money as it was all in one piece (theirs and mine), so I was left alone without money and not able to walk. I lay by the road until near night, then crawled three miles toward Oregon and lay on the ground near a fire.
Saturday, September 11: Traveled 25 miles in great pain. Crossed Powder River and stopped over night at foot of Blue Mountains.
Sunday, September 12: Came to Grand Londla, large level valley, nearly round. Passed through it and traveled ten miles over mountains thickly covered with very tall Pines. Stopped over night on Grande Ronde River.
Monday, September 13: Traveled ten miles (mountains), then got in to drive team for Dr. Stillman for my board until his sick son got well (living on boiled rice only). Drove ten miles and camped on a slough. Thick Pine timber here.
Tuesday, September 14: Had to hunt half a day for the cattle. Traveled two miles and lay by the rest of the day.
Wednesday, September 15: Traveled 16 miles, descended the western slope of the Blue Mountains by a hill four miles long. Passed a large Cayuse village and camped on the Umatilla River. Open country and no more sage.
Thursday, September 16: Traveled 12 miles down the Umatilla, then crossed it and went three miles up the hill and made a dry camp. Dry bunch grass.
Friday, September 17: Traveled 14 miles on good road but no water. Struck the Umatilla again and camped.
Saturday, September 18: Drove eight miles, came to the residence of the American Indian Agent. His son being able to drive, I left (Dr. Stillman) and traveled ten miles. Stopped over night with a man from Oregon that had come out to meet some of his relatives. First heard the Presidential candidate's names, and of the death of Henry Clay.
Sunday, September 19: Traveled 30 miles, passed Well Springs, and stopped on Willow Creek.
Monday, September 20: A very windy day. Reached John Day River (30 miles).
Tuesday, September 21: Traveled 31 miles, came in sight of the Cascade Mountains, their highest peaks Mt. St. Helens 14,000 and Mt. Hood 12,000 feet high and covered with snow. Struck the Columbia River at its rapids, and stayed over night with four young ladies that were driving their own team through, their parents and brother having died on the road.
Wednesday, September 22: Crossed Deschutes River and found five of Chapman's hands that left after I did and passed me somewhere on the road. I then stayed on with them, all of us out of money. All arrived at The Dalles half starved at about 5:00 P.M. I begged a supper and slept in a wagon. I had packed over 500 miles on foot and endured all kinds of hardships.
Thursday, September 23: Felt quite unwell in the morning. Found a family all sick and one dead. Went and dug a grave and got a man to help me, and we went and buried the child. I found I had a touch of mountain fever, and took some medicine that I had with me for breaking it. Tried to get a chance to go down the river on a raft, but no chance. There were 500 men at The Dalles, all wanting employment and could not find enough to pay their board.
Friday, September 24: The two men that took my money with them came up, having worked for a while for a trader, so I got my money. We bought 15 pounds of beef at 15 cents a pound, and one pound of bread at 50 cents a pound, and started down the pack trail through the Cascade Mountains. Went ten miles and built a large fire by the side of the trail, and lay down beside a large Pine log.
Saturday, September 25: Traveled over the most rugged, crooked, and narrow trail that you can imagine, where a single misstep would plunge you down headlong 1,000 feet.
Sunday, September 26: Traveled on the same trail, forded Dog River, and crossed the Columbia at the cattle ferry. Camped at night four miles above Cascade with a company of U.S. Army troops just out from the states.
Monday, September 27: Arrived at the Cascades in the morning. Hired out to go 35 miles down the river and dig potatoes, chop wood, etc., as long as I choose to stay. Went down the railroad to its termination (three miles), got some blankets, and lay down until next morning.
Tuesday, September 28: Went down to the steamboat landing (head of tidewater and just below Cascade Falls). Got on board the steamer Multnomah. Passed a place called Cape Horn and saw the wreck of the steamer James P. Flint that was lost there a few days before. Passed Castle Rock. Saw a number of farms, which made me feel at home being the first I had seen for 2,000 miles. Landed at a wood yard four miles above where I went to work.
* * *
Since that time I have been to Vancouver (four miles), the best site for a city that I ever saw. It belongs to the Hudson's Bay Company, which is the sole reason that it is not the greatest place of business in the territory. I have also been to the city of Portland, ten miles on the west side of the Willamette River and eight miles from its mouth, the principle place of business in the territory. It is a place of great business though a small city.
Oregon on the whole is a hilly mountainous country with narrow, level, fertile valleys. The hills are good soil. A farm of ten acres will produce more money than 100 acres in the States. It produces more and brings a higher price, and will always have a better market than they can have in the States on account of the gold mines.
I feel amply compensated for all my hardships in crossing the plains, by getting into the most healthy of climates and lovely country. I have measured a Fir tree three feet through at the butt and 172 feet long, which is not the tallest that I have seen. They are very straight trees.
* * *
The road from Council Bluffs to Fort Laramie is generally very level with plenty of grass and water. The distance is 522 miles. People are apt to drive too fast and not lay by enough on this part of the route. It is the best road, best feed, and the most water of the whole route. The water from the Platte River, when you can get it is the most healthy.
The road from Laramie to Fort Hall is, the first part of it, hilly but not bad. In some places a lack of feed. Some dry bunch grass on this part of the route, cattle eat it very well. You will have the best feed on Green River and Bear River. In this space you have 50 miles of desert. 577 miles from Fort Laramie to Fort Hall. Good feed about the Fort.
Fort Hall to Fort Boise is about 400 miles, the poorest feed and water on the whole route. If you can cross Snake River just above Salmon Falls you will gain in feed but lose a little in distance (best cross). You will cross back at Fort Boise. The most feed is dry bunch grass.
From Fort Boise to The Dalles is 367 miles, the first part poor feed, the last part good dry grass. Very crooked hilly road on the first part, the last part good road. In this space you cross the Blue Mountains, covered with timber, which is the most timber you will see on the whole route.
From The Dalles to the settlements proper there are two ways. One down the Columbia, your wagons by water, your stock by a narrow difficult trail, or through the Cascade Mountains over a very hilly road. If you are early in the season, better go through the mountains; if later there may be snow in the mountains.
The route as a whole is a barren desert waste, not fit for anything. From Fort Laramie to the Blue Mountains nearly all the shrubs are the Artemica or wild sage, which is the most desert looking shrub that the imagination can possibly conceive. Aside from the wild sage, the ground is totally barren more than half the whole distance. All should bring plenty of medicines and take good care of their health, and be sure and keep out of the Platte River. 27 persons were drowned in it this season. It is swift and muddy, and lower toward the shore.
Green River is a clear beautiful stream. Bear River is sluggish and warm. The Snake is clear and has many falls and rapids, and is not very healthy water. Burnt River is clear, cold, spring stream. The Columbia is large, clear, straight, beautiful, varying three-fourths to one-and-a-half miles in width. The tidewater flows up the Columbia 130 miles, as far as the Cascade Falls. It is navigable above the Falls 50 miles to the next Falls.
It is a good thing for the world that the eastern shore of this continent was discovered and settled, or it never would have been settled; this climate is so much more mild. Here we are not burned up in summer nor frozen in the winter. October 31st and no frost yet. Henry and Sarah (Chapman) are 30 miles above and keeping a boarding house at $4.00 a day.
(Signed): S. W. Woodruff
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