Franklin Langworthy
Scenery of the Plains...

(Ogdensburgh, NY: J. C. Sprague, 1855

  • Title Page   Preface
  • Chapter 4
  • Emigrants' Complaints
  • Rev. Slater   Persecution
  • Chapter 5

  • Transcriber's Comments

  • Nelson Slater's 1851 Fruits of Mormonism   |   Edward Bonney's 1850 Banditti of the Prairies


    S C E N E R Y






    C A L I F O R N I A,




    In the Years 1850, '51, '52 and '53.


    F R A N K L I N   L A N G W O R T H Y.

    I speak of things which I have seen and do know, touching men and objects
    in a Stirring period of my country's history.



    [ ii ]

    Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854,
    In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States,
    for the Northern District of New York.

    [ iii ]

    P R E F A C E.

    The year Eighteen Hundred and Fifty, is an epoch that will be memorable in the history of the United States. It was a year that will be long remembered, as one of unparalleled emigration, suffering, and death. The official announcement of the astounding facts in relation to the Gold Discoveries in California, seemed to move the whole Nation, as with an electric shock, and a vast multitude, of more than sixty thousand human beings, were seen rushing across immense plains and deserts, and over tremendous mountains, flushed with high hopes, and eager to fill their coffers with the glittering dust. I was an eye-witness of these exciting scenes, and assisted by my presence to swell the numbers of the mighty throng.

    The following pages consist of a brief description of the varied scenes I have witnessed, and the countries through which I have passed, in going the Land Route

    iv.                                             PREFACE.                                            

    to California, by way of the Great Salt Lake, and the return by way of Central America, and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

    I have personally surveyed many of the wildest and most picturesque scenes to be found upon our globe. I have kept a Daily Journal, while going and returning, (but not while I was residing at Salt Lake, or in California.) Of those countries I have given general descriptions. I have designed to give such plain and graphic accounts, as would enable the reader to see the various objects delineated, as though he was personally present.

    The work, with all its imperfections, is hereby offered to an inquisitive and enlightened public, by its most devoted and humble servant,
    THE AUTHOR.        
    Near MOUNT CARROLL, Illinois.

    (pages 1-79 not transcribed)

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    July 8th. [1850] -- During the past night, two men who were out guarding horses, thought they saw Indians lurking about. The guards were dreadfully alarmed, and setting up a most dismal cry of horror, started for our camp, distant about a mile. We were in bed in our tents, but heard the outcry, and in an instant every man was on his feet, with arms in hand, prepared for battle. We soon arrived on the ground, but the Indians had fled, if any had been there, and we soon crawled back to rest, but before doing so went out and brought in all the horses and made them fast to the wagons.

    In the course of yesterday we saw a number of Indians along the road. Leaving camp, we passed over a ridge and entered another canon, in which we traveled near twenty miles. Upon the right and left of us, the mountains rise to a great height. In one part of the canyon, upon our right, there stretches along for a considerable distance a perpendicular ledge or cliff, from five hundred to a thousand feet in height. The whole cliff is a conglomerate rock, as though the mass was once in a molten state, at which time it was saturated with showers of rounded pebbles. Appearances indicate that this immense canyon has been worn down by the mere action of the stream that now runs at the

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    bottom. Such an operation, it would seem, must have required a vast and inconceivable length of time.

    At six, afternoon, arrived on the banks of Webber river, and followed it up two miles, and encamped in a delightful place. There were numerous little groves of second-growth trees besprinkling a verdant lawn, consisting of the river bottom, about half a mile in breadth. During the dav, we have noticed wild currants and gooseberries; also a profusion of angelica plants, &c. We forded the stream that runs down the canon, nineteen times; most of the crossings bad. Distance, twenty-four miles.


    July 9th. -- Crossed Webber river, another tremendous stream. It is six or eight rods wide, and three or four feet deep, equally as rapid and as dangerous to cross as Bear river. We passed through without accident. An hour previous to our crossing, a horse-cart was carried down by the current, overturned, all the loading lost, and an old lady thrown into the river. She was carried down a considerable distance, but was finally rescued by a man who waded in and caught her at a point where the current brought her near the shore. After fording this river, we followed up the stream fifteen miles; lofty, precipitous mountains on both sides. At length, turning to the right, went up a steep canyon five miles, then descending a succession of sharp pitches a mile or two, came to camp in a level, green valley, three or four miles across, through which runs several small streams, the banks full, and water turbid. The valley was full of cattle, horses, tents, and

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    wagons; six or eight large trains being here encamped. Five or six miles to the south, rises a very lofty mountain, the summit bound in everlasting snow, whilst upon its sides are scattered groves of pine, cedar, aspen, and balsam fir. Distance, twenty-one miles.


    July 10th. -- Moved forward, and at about nine o'clock in the morning entered a canon, ascending for six miles. This brought us up to a dividing ridge, at an immense elevation. We then descended ten miles through the most ragged and frightful canyon in all this region. I think we descend three or four thousand feet in the course of the ten miles. Down this fearful declivity rushes a small river, at the bottom of the canyon roaring loudly, as it tumbles over a succession of cataracts. We have to ford this stream thirty-nine times, and no crossing can be worse. In the mean time the mountains on each side are nearly perpendicular, and, in some places the towering cliffs seem actually to impend over the traveler's head.

    In several places, the mountains of naked rock from each side come down at so sharp an angle, that the only road is the channel of the river itself. Down this we go, pushed along by the current, and floundering over huge boulders in the stream. The road resembles a huge flight of stairs, like Jacob's Ladder reaching from earth to heaven. The path consists of small rough stones, mingled with dry dust, and at the sharp pitches the wheels are locked, and the carriage slides from top to bottom. In many places, barely chaining the wheels is not sufficient; in such cases, a strong rope is fastened

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    to the hind-axle of the wagon, a number of men take hold of it, and, by holding back, the carriage is steadied down the hill.

    "We were not without company through this rough descent, as was Sinbad the Sailor on his memorable passage through the dark Rock, or as the hero Aeneas, when he made his fearful descent into Hades, or the shades below. On the contrary, when we arrived within a mile or two of the lower end of the Pass, we found our progress arrested for two hours by an accumulation of teams, entirely filling the road for two miles. At length the concourse moved forward, and late in the evening we arrived at the termination of this terrific descent, and suddenly emerged into the famous Valley of Great Salt Lake. But night veiled the scene, and here, in darkness, we pitched our camp.

    Distance, eighteen miles.


    July 11th. -- After sun-rise, I took a brief survey of the surrounding scenery. Our camp, I find, is upon a bench of land at the base of the mountain. Immense numbers of emigrants are encamped around us. Facing the west, I see the great Salt Lake in that direction, and distant twenty-five miles. The City is visible eight miles to the north, and stands upon an inclined plane, which descends from the mountains towards the lake. At my back rises a high chain of rough, jagged mountains, stretching north and south beyond the reach of sight. The whole expanse looks bleak and naked, there being no trees in sight, except a very few along the banks of streams, and some stunted, scattering pines

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    and cedars on the sides of the mountains. The valley is on all sides surrounded by mountains and chains of mountains running in all directions. The flat lands near the lake present numerous small ponds, glimmering in the morning sunbeams. The plain is crossed by several cold, rapid streams, either discharging themselves into the lake, or else sinking in the earth before reaching the shore. Such is a hasty view of the scenery of the valley. In this snug retreat dwell the Mormons, the followers of Joe Smith, fenced in by deserts and mountains, like granite walls reaching up to the clouds.


    July 12th. -- Still lying by, at the entrance of the canyon. A Mormon elder came to our camp, who was a zealous follower of the Prophet of Nauvoo. He talked loud and long. The information I obtained from him, may be summed up as follows:

    1st. The number of Mormons in the valley, he did not know, but their settlements extend forty-five miles to the north, and an hundred and seventy to the south of the city.

    2d. The city is divided into nineteen Wards, in each of which a Bishop is the presiding officer.

    3d. Plurality of wives is practiced in the city, and throughout the valley. This, he contended, is right, according to the practice of the holy Saints of old. He was of opinion, that about every fourth man among the Mormons has more wives than one. He also said it was no one's business how many wives a man had, and he did not wish to keep this part of Mormonism a secret.

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    4th. He believed, without a doubt, that the Mormons will soon overthrow the present Government of the United States, and ultimately all other human governments, and then there will be "peace on earth, and good will amongst men."

    5th. He said the Mormons pay tithes to the Church, of the tenth part of the products of their stores, shops, fields and flocks; and those who go to the California mines, pay from the proceeds of their labor in the same ratio.

    6th. The largest amount of gold that any one Mormon has obtained by mining in California in a year, is seven thousand dollars.

    7th. He expects that the Saints, as he styled the Mormons, will yet be persecuted and driven from this obscure retreat.

    8th. He says the Mormons know they are right -- other sects believe or guess they are -- but we know it! We have the witness -- our doctrine is attested by prophecy, tongues and miracles -- and we, said he, shall hold fast the faith, whatever the persecution or opposition.

    9th. He argued that the more the Mormons are persecuted and driven about, the more rapidly the doctrine will prevail. He thought this the very means by which Mormonism is to be spread over the whole world. Here the "Saint" took his leave of us, and we moved on to the great Salt Lake City. Arrived here, we suspend our daily journal until we leave this place.

    Distance, eight miles. From Fort Laramie to Salt Lake City, four hundred and seventy-five miles.


    [ 86 ]


    Boundaries of the Valley. -- Salt Lake. -- Climate, Soil and Productions. -- The City. -- Protective Tariff. -- Number of Mormons. -- Customs and Character of the Mormons. -- A Mormon Celebration. -- Plurality of Wives. -- Complaints of Emigrants. -- Government. -- Power of the Prophet. -- Impudence of Brigham Young. -- Mormon Theology. -- Women enslaved at Salt Lake. -- Hypocrisy and treachery of Mormons. -- Treasonable and dangerous Designs. -- Craft in gaining Converts. -- Mormon Witnesses in Courts of Law. -- A Mormon Law Case -- Anecdote. -- Right of Property. -- High claims of Mormonism. -- Persecution.


    The principal settlement of the Mormons is in this valley, although they have small colonies at Utah Valley, at San Pete Valley, and in the southern part of Northern California. I write from personal observation, and my remarks will in this chapter be confined to Salt Lake Valley and its inhabitants.

    The boundaries of this valley are not very definitely understood, but that portion lying on the east side of the lake, and which is occupied more or less by Mormons, is about one hundred miles in length, by twenty-five in breadth, bounded as follows: -- on the east by a chain of mountains, on the north by Bear River, on the west by the lake, on the south by mountains Separating it from Utah Valley. The whole face of the

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    country is an inclined plane, descending towards the lake.


    The river Jordan runs south of the city, and the Webber and Bear rivers to the north. Besides these there are a great number of smaller streams, some of which are of sufficient size for mills. These rise in the mountains on the east, and run with great rapidity towards the lake.

    Salt Lake. This inland sea is one hundred miles in length, by seventy in breadth. The water is a perfect brine -- as salt as cold water can be made by dissolving salt in it. No fish or other water animals inhabit it. The lake has no visible outlet. The water it receives from numerous rivers and streams is evaporated upon its expanded surface. The lake is said to be shallow, seldom more than thirty feet in depth.

    During the rains in "Winter and Spring, the water in the lake rises, spreading itself over the low lands which surround its margin. In the dry season the water evaporates, and receding, leaves immense deposits of crystallized salt upon the shores. The inhabitants have nothing to do in order to obtain their supply of tins article, but to shovel it into their wagons, and transport the same to their homes. The salt is of an excellent quality, and any amount might be obtained. All North America might be supplied with salt from this great natural salt-pan; and the time may yet arrive, when, by means of rail roads, this useful commodity will be transported to all the States of this Great Republic.

    This lake, in some of its characteristics, bears a striking resemblance to the Lake of Asphaltes, or the

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    Dead Sea in Palestine, upon the shores of which once stood the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah -- which were doubtless destroyed by an earthquake and volcanic eruptions. There are, without doubt, subterranean fires in the region around the great Salt Lake, and the whole valley, including the lake, may possibly be an immense volcanic crater. Present appearances indicate that such is the fact.

    In Utah Valley, fifty miles distant, is a large lake of fresh water, abounding in trout.


    The climate is healthy, and not remarkably warm at any season, the surface of the lake being four thousand feet higher than the level of the sea, and the frosty summits around have a tendency to cool the temperature. Snow sometimes falls to the depth of two feet in the valley, but does not lie long on the ground. There is an abundance of rain in the latter part of the Winter and Spring. A dry season then commences, which continues until "Winter, during which time it seldom rains, though during my stay in the valley there was a copious shower in Jury, accompanied by thunder and lightning. It was considered by the Mormons as a remarkable occurrence. Almost every afternoon, during the dry season, there is a violent gale of wind. It comes on suddenly from the south, driving before it a great cloud of dust that darkens the air.

    In many parts of the valley the soil is fertile, and produces abundant crops of small grain, potatoes, beans, peas, and all sorts of garden vegetables. It is necessary, however, to irrigate all the lands that are cultivated,

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    and streams being numerous, and the country an inclined plane, is admirably adapted to that purpose. Eighty bushels of wheat, I was told, had been produced from an acre of land. There is a belt of flat ground extending along the lake, too wet for cultivation; the soil is also strongly impregnated with salt and alkali.

    Adjoining the city is a large enclosure, called the "Big Field." It is three miles wide, and fourteen miles long, fenced with small pine poles obtained from a neighboring canyon. This field is surveyed off in lots of different sizes, which are improved by a great number of different proprietors. This field is nearly all the improved land in the vicinity, except that which is included within the limits of the city. Many persons who reside in the city, own claims in the Big Field.

    The Mormons contemplate fencing another similar enclosure on the north side of the city, and extending along near the base of the mountains. There are several saw and grist-mills, propelled by water-power. But the most important improvements the Mormons have as yet made, are the numerous little canals, or ditches, for conveying water to the various tenements in the Big Field, and streets and lots in the city.

    THE  CITY.

    The Capital City, or City of the Great Salt Lake, covers a large extent of ground, being laid out three miles square. It is divided into large squares, by broad streets crossing each other at right angles. Through each street runs one or two small canals of pure cold water, and they run with such velocity that their rushing

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    sound may be heard in all parts of the city. "Water is thus brought to every man's door, and can be easily turned so as to water all the gardens and lots in the city. But a small proportion of the city lots are as yet improved, and the whole place resembles rather a neighborhood of farmers and mechanics, than a city, and the number of inhabitants may amount to five thousand.

    There is but one place of public worship, and this is a mere temporary edifice, called the "Bowery," the length, one hundred feet, and breadth sixty. The walls are ten feet high, and made of unburnt brick. The roof is covered with boards, overspread with earth, and supported by a great number of posts or pillars, which are the rough bodies of small trees. It is seated with rough benches, and will contain, perhaps, two thousand persons, and is generally thronged on Sunday. There is also a two-story building, made of unburnt brick, called the "Council House," where the "powers that be" assemble to pass their decrees. There are private schools, but no public school-houses. There may be a dozen stores and trading establishments.


    All the merchandise used in the valley must be transported by land more than a thousand miles. From such a locality there can be no exports of the products of the soil, should there ever be a surplus. Farmers must depend entirely on a home market

    This valley is a favorable spot in which to test the soundness of the protective policy. The distance bars competition from abroad as effectually as any protective

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    tariff. But in this, as in all other instances of "protective tariffs," the same cause that shuts out importation, prevents exportation also. The tendency of all such protection is to destroy commerce, or the mutual interchange of the products of different countries for the advantage of both. Commerce is undoubtedly one great source of public wealth, as well as of private prosperity, and besides, promotes peace among nations, and is the most effectual means of spreading the knowledge of science, art, and civilization through the world.


    The whole number of Mormons on the west side of the Rocky Mountains, is estimated at fifteen thousand. This estimate includes those in the valley and in California.

    There is a small newspaper printed in the city, called "The Deseret News" devoted to Mormon interests, and apparently edited by persons of a low order of intellect; indeed, the paper is a mere childish affair.


    The Mormons are very well clad at present. Clothing is cheap, being here sold by the emigrants for a mere trifle. Many emigrants start from the States with fine clothing, but by the time they arrive here discover that such apparel is of but little use on this journey, and are glad to get rid of it in exchange for some article of food.

    The Mormons do not use intoxicating drinks. This apparent temperance proceeds rather from necessity than choice. There are no distilleries in the valley, and

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    the distance is too great to transport such commodities by land.

    In their church they have a good choir of singers, and a brass band of musicians, who attend the meeting and play a variety of lively airs and marches after service.

    The Mormons are a motley collection from all the countries of Europe ; but the Americans form a majority, and are the master-spirits among them.

    We do not hear a great amount of profane swearing at Salt Lake, though most of the Mormons will occasionally use a little of that dialect; and their preachers do not scruple to use such language in the pulpit as would be called profane if uttered in the streets.


    The twenty-fourth day of July is observed by the Mormons as a grand festival. It is the anniversary of the arrival of the first train of the "Saints" in the valley, which memorable event occurred, I believe, in 1846. I had the curiosity to attend this celebration. Going up to the " Bowery," about nine in the morning, I found the house crowded to its utmost capacity, and many upon the outside who could not gain admission. At about ten o'clock, a singular procession was formed, consisting, in part, of the following select bodies: --

    1st. The brass band, sixteen performers.

    2d. Commissioned officers of the Nauvoo Legion, in full uniform.

    3d. The twenty-four bishops of the church, in loose gowns, each carrying a motto painted on a board, and elevated at the top of a long staff.

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    4th. Twenty-four young ladies, with parasols tastefully ornamented with evergreens and flowers.

    5th. Twenty-four young men.

    7th. [sic] Apostles, elders, the patriarch, presidents, &c. The procession then moved to the sound of music, and under the flag of Deseret, up to the residence of their high priest, prophet, president and governor, Brigham Young, and escorted this quondam dignitary down to the Bowery. At intermission, the procession escorted him home again. The performances lasted until near sunset, and consisted in praying, preaching, speech-making, &c. They read a paper, entitled "Declaration of the Independence of Deseret," and another, "The Constitution of Deseret." The Declaration of American Independence was also read. Numerous toasts were given, and odes were sung, which were the inspirations of the Salt Lake Muse. There was shouting, and firing of cannon, mingled with the flourish of trumpets, and strains from the brass band. They said many hard things against the Government and people of the United States, and heaped the most withering curses upon the States of Missouri and Illinois. They prophecied that the total overthrow of the United States was near at hand, and that the whole nation would soon be at the feet of the Mormons, suing for mercy and protection. Thus they spent the day. The speakers made free use of insulting language towards "Uncle Sam," and which might have given the old man great offence if he had heard it; and had thought it worthy of his notice.

    Many emigrants attended this farce of a celebration, and after hearing all that was said, very generally came

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    to the conclusion that the Mormons, and especially their leaders, are a reckless set of desperados, and are a puny race of upstart traitors to their country.

    There was a tall liberty pole, from which waved the flag of Deseret. The flag was thirty feet wide, and eighty feet long. A gale arose, the staff broke, and down came the flag, trailing in the dust. This little accident was matter of joy to most of the emigrants. I have never learned whether the inspired prophets in the valley considered the circumstance as a fortunate omen to the interests of Deseret, or otherwise.

    Deseret, is the name given to the whole country by the Mormons. The legal name, imposed by the Congress of the United States, is Utah Territory.


    Another singular practice that prevails here, is that of polygamy. They have papers, and even books among them, written in its defense. All the Mormons are bold in contending for polygamy by argument, and many are equally so in carrying it out in practice.

    Brigham Young,, the high priest, prophet, and governor, is said by those who have ample means of knowing, to have at this time twenty-three wives. To his seraglio additions are made from time to time. Eber Kimball, whom they style the vice-president, has near twenty wives. Secretary Richards, eight. The apostle Pratt, six, &c, &c.

    For a general rule among them, the more religion a man has, the greater the number of his wives. One of the dignitaries in the valley has taken for wives a widow and several daughters, and it is not uncommon for a man to marry two or more sisters.

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    If the Government of the United States does not interpose its authority to correct some of the evils at Salt Lake, an incensed mob may ere long rush upon that sink of pollution, and sweep it with the besom of destruction. Such an event is quite probable, judging from the tone of popular indignation so generally uttered by the tens of thousands of emigrants who have been at the place.

    The complaints against the Mormons urged by the emigrants, may be summed up as follows: --


    1st. Imposing and collecting taxes from travelers, exorbitant in amount, assessed and collected in an illegal and arbitrary manner.

    2d. Stripping them of their property on various false pretences, and when the injured have appealed to Mormon courts, the judgment has invariably gone in favor of the Mormon, whatever the value and amount of the testimony.

    3d. That citizens of the United States have been sentenced to labor in the chain-gang, without having committed a crime, and without having a legal trial, They had spoken against the prophet.

    4th. Liberty of speech has been destroyed in the valley, so that a man while there hazards his life by speaking against the proceedings of the Mormons.

    5th. Breaking open letters, sent by citizens to their friends, in the United States Mail.

    6th. That all their pretended courts of law are a cruel mockery of justice, the story of a Mormon, who is a party in the suit, far outweighing the disinterested testimony of emigrants under oath.

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    7th. Bigamy and incest, sanctioned by the united voice of the Mormon church and government.

    8th. Treasonable designs against the United States. Pretending to be independent, and defying the Government.

    9th. That the Mormon church is nothing but a banditti, and Brigham Young the captain.

    10th. That their government and laws are but a cloak, under cover of which many emigrants have been robbed, the officers of these courts sharing the booty with the plunderers.

    11th. That citizens of the United States have been murdered at Salt Lake, and Mormon courts have discharged the murderers with distinguished honor. As an instance, Dr. Vaughn, who was murdered in open day-light, near a crowd, in the Winter of 1850.

    12th. That the Mormon rulers trample all justice and liberty under their feet, and American citizenship is no protection among them.

    Such are a few of the many complaints uttered by California emigrants against the Mormons, and threatenings against the valley are loud and vehement. A military government ought to be established here, and then might justice be rendered both to Mormons and citizens of the United States.


    The Government (if Government it can be called,) is a kind of military-ecclesiastical despotism. Their Chief, at present, is Brigham Young, the successor of Joe Smith. His powers, as a ruler of the Mormons, not being derived from the people, but like that of Mahomet, directly from God himself. He is a priest,

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    prophet, and virtually a king, his word being the end of the law in all cases. lie holds in his hands the power of life and death over all persons in the valley, whether citizens or Mormons.


    The prophet is commander-in-chief of the Nauvoo Legion, a numerous body of armed men, ready at all times to obey his orders, whether just or unjust. The Nauvoo Legion consists of all the men able to bear arms, who belong to their community. Besides this Legion, there is said to be a secret band, styled the "Danites," whose special mission is to, execute vengeance on all those who have given offence to the prophet. Who are members of the "Danite" band, is unknown even to the mass of the Mormons, and all are said to stand in fear of secret agents and informers, as the people of Europe once stood in awe of the spies of the "Holy Court of Inquisition."

    There is a kind of legislative body, consisting of bishops, elders, &c, over whom the chief priest presides.

    Such is the Government, and all the Mormons seem determined to have no other; and it is all in vain for the President of the United States to appoint Governors or other territorial officers here. The Mormons will take salaries of office from the United States treasury if they can, but under all circumstances they will still adhere to their own system of government, law, religion, and practice. The Mormon community appears to be so corrupt and diseased a limb of the body politic, as to admit of no cure, except by amputation.

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    The Mormons pretend to be republicans, but no government can be further from both republicanism and freedom than theirs. Brigham Young makes laws in general by his own authority, and personally promulgates them from the pulpit, in the style of a supreme dictator. I will give a specimen:

    The first time I attended meeting in the Bowery, after a discourse by one of the apostles, Young arose and addressed the assembled throng, consisting of Mormons and emigrants, as follows: -- "I understand that some of you Mormons have been selling wheat to the emigrants, and they want it to take out upon the plains to feed it to their teams. I forbid you doing this in future. If you presume to do so, I shall be likely to know it. I have means of finding out what is going on in this valley. You may sell them flour at twenty-five cents per pound, and not for a cent less. And this is for you, Mormons, to understand."

    "Now, a word to the emigrants. I forbid you taking wheat from this place. If you have bought it, and have paid your money for it, it makes no difference. If you start on the road with it, and the fact comes to my knowledge, you will be pursued, brought back, and be made to smart for it, if there is force enough in this valley to do it. And this is for you, emigrants, to understand."

    From this extract of the Governor's speech, the reader can "understand "how laws are made, and in what manner they are executed, at Salt Lake. The Governor owns a grist-mill. This circumstance may, in part, account for the terrible threatenings against those

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    who might take wheat away before it was ground. The reason assigned by the prophet for this summary non-exportation law, was the fear of a scarcity in the valley, but of that, there was no danger.


    As to Mormon theology, or system of religious belief, it is very difficult to describe. Their theory is a compound of all the creeds on earth -- Jewish, Pagan, Mahommedan and Christian. I give a brief summary of their doctrines, gleaned from various conversations with the Mormons and their leaders:

    1st. They believe in a multitude of Gods, each presiding over a certain portion of the material universe. I did not learn that they believed in any one Deity that was supreme over all the others. Whenever I asked direct questions on this point, I was always answered evasively.

    2d. The only God with whom we in this planet are concerned, is the "Father of the human race," the Being who inspired men to write the Bible, and the Book of Mormon, upon the golden plates, discovered and translated miraculously by Joe Smith.

    3d. A true Saint will hereafter arise from one degree of exaltation to another, until he finally becomes a God, and can create a world of his own, and people it with inhabitants.

    4th. The personal form of God is precisely that of a human being.

    5th. The power to work miracles is still possessed by all true believers, and such are the "Latter Day Saints," and no others.

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    6th. "When Christ comes the second time, he will establish a temporal kingdom, and reign as a literal king over all the earth ; and this king will re-establish the law of Moses, and priesthood of Aaron.

    7th. Water baptism by immersion is an indispensable form of initiation into the visible kingdom of Christ, and when properly baptised, the disciple receives the Holy Ghost, and becomes the medium of miraculous power.

    8th. A member of the church can be baptised in behalf of those who are literally dead, and who have died without receiving this ordinance, and such baptism is efficacious by way of substitution.

    9th. Polygamy is a part of the ancient 'order of the church, and therefore still in force.

    They style themselves Mormons, or Latter Day Saints; all others they denominate Gentiles, or heathen. They generally believe in a hell, of limited duration, but some hold that punishment is endless. They believe that when Christ comes personally to set up his kingdom, all obstinate Gentiles that mav at that time be found will be swept from the world. They also hold that the present organization of the Church of Latter Day Saints is only a prelude to Christ's second coming and kingdom.


    All Mormons, both high and low, are quite flippant in defense of their doctrines and practices. This has been remarked in reference to many of the women among them, who appear to have a peculiar zeal in the cause. It is also said, that not a few of the women

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    would be glad to be free from this society. But the women are truly a conquered people at Salt Lake. If they have any misgivings of conscience, they dare not whisper their doubts in the ear of any mortal. Such is the despotic system under which they live.

    The foregoing account of the Mormons, is in accordance with the best information I have been able to gain, and much of it the result of what I saw and heard personally. I wish them no harm, but at the same time apprehend that great evils will come upon them unless they reform, speedily, totally and radically.


    "With reference to the religion of the Mormons, there is one consideration that is of importance to understand. Notwithstanding the Mormons profess to believe as much as all other sects put together, yet if the truth could be told, they are nearly all fully conscious that the whole scheme is a gross humbug and piece of deception, which they are attempting to palm upon the world. I would not state this, if I had not had an opportunity to ascertain the fact, by means of proofs which to my mind had the authority of a demonstration.

    To state the process by which I arrived at this important information, would occupy too many pages for the present work. Many persons who are but little acquainted with the Mormons, are astonished that people can be so ignorant and superstitious as to believe in such things as Mormons profess. But let such astonishment cease, for not one in a hundred at Salt Lake is so ignorant as to believe in the system embraced in this theory, or any part of it. Why, then, do they profess

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    to believe it? This question is more difficult to answer. I, however, will merely suggest, that their theory forms their bond of union -- is an excuse for the gratification of their passions -- is a cloak for all their iniquitous proceedings -- fosters their ambitious love of power, and priestly domination -- hence their attachment to their theory, and determined zeal in its defence. It is my opinion that the Mormon community are not a whit behind the times as to general intelligence. They are knaves, rather than fools. But they have designs to accomplish, and their theory of government and religion is the grand instrumentality in attaining the ends at which they aim.

    As to myself, while I tarried at Salt Lake, I labored some in the wheat harvest, and gave a scientific lecture in the Bowery, and by these means raised money to prosecute my journey. On my arrival at Salt Lake, my funds were at rather a low ebb. I suffered a little from the tyranny of Brigham Young, but to relate my own private griefs is not the design of this work, and I therefore let them pass.

    To conclude this subject, Mormonism amounts virtually, to sedition or treason against the National Government, as their theory declares that Mormons are not subject to any human government, and hence they feel themselves under no obligation to pay any respect to the civil laws, or to those who administer them. Whenever, therefore, they pretend to obey the laws of the nation, it is all a piece of hypocrisy, to gain some sinister end.

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    Whenever the Mormons gain sufficient numbers, they will, without doubt, throw the mask entirely off, proclaim Utah an independent nation, and bid defiance to the United States. They have virtually done this already, and almost any Mormon at Salt Lake will tell you that such is their fixed determination; to bring all this about, is the object towards which all their operations are constantly directed.

    They are determined to transform this free Republic into a despotism, with some Mormon prophet for an autocrat. Many Mormons seem to think that the time has already arrived, when the prophet's standard of defiance ought to be unfurled. But is there any reason to apprehend danger from the increasing numbers and power of this upstart sect? Answer: In 1850, the Mormon prophet at Salt Lake affirmed that their numbers, in all parts of the world, amounted to five hundred thousand. If this be a fact, Joe Smith has gained as great a number of followers in twenty-five years as Christianity gained in the first century of the Christian Era. Neither Christ or Mahomet gained converts like the Prophet of Nauvoo.


    The means of proselyting put in requisition by the Mormons, are immense. Their missionaries are now scouring every quarter of the globe, and the isles of the ocean. As the result of these operations, thousands and tens of thousands of their proselytes are annually landed on our shores, and still the work proceeds with an accelerated velocity. At this rate, how long will it

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    be before Mormonism will become a tremendous power, directing the movements of a countless host of men, more dangerous in their principles than the followers of the Prophet of Mecca, or the murderous hordes that followed the bloody standards of Glengis and Tamerlane, and who, in the course of twenty years, destroyed fourteen millions of people in Asia.

    An ancient Bible Prophet had a vision of a cloud, gathering in the midst of the clear blue sky. It was, at first, so diminutive in size, as scarcely to attract notice; but upon looking again, it had increased its dimensions, and continuing to enlarge, it soon became a mighty shower, and poured a deluge of water upon the parched earth. Thus Mormonism, like a portentous cloud, is gathering in blackness behind the Rocky Mountains. Being seen from so distant a point of observation, it appears so small that it scarcely attracts the notice of the Government, or the nation. Let this cloud alone a few seasons more, and suddenly it will darken all the western heavens, while from its dismal front a thousand lightnings will gleam, and its thunders shake the continent from sea to sea. A second race of Saracens, like swarms of African locusts, will -overspread the land, stripping every green leaf from the tree of liberty.

    But some will still ask, can there be danger of such progress in this work of darkness, under the resplendent light of the Nineteenth Century? In reply, I am willing to admit, that the present is an age of progress, and a great number of truly enlightened minds may be found in different countries. The distinguished writer and philosopher, Dr. Thomas Dick, estimates the number of the truly enlightened in Europe, at two

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    millions, or only one in one hundred and twenty-five of the population who are properly enlightened in the principles of science, morality and religion. This estimate leaves still in partial darkness, even in Europe, two hundred and forty-eight millions of human beings. If the philosopher even approximates the true number, you will perceive that abundant materials remain liable to become the devoted followers of vile impostors, and the zealous advocates of false and dangerous theories. But what is the secret of the wonderful success of the Mormon missionaries ? I reply, it is not because they convince people of the truth of the Mormon theory of religion. As I stated before, there are few among them so ignorant as to believe in any part or portion of Mormon theology. The secret of this unparalleled success, consists in several particulars.

    1st. All the preachers of Mormonism are a species of Jesuits. With them, the end sanctifies the means. As their theory embraces a part of every other, they can literally "become all things to all men," in theology, without going beyond the limits of the Mormon faith. Mormonism is not like an almanac, calculated for the meridian of some particular place, but will serve, without essential variation, tor all latitudes, and all meridians from pole to pole.

    2d. They hold out the promise of great temporal benefits. To the landless of Europe and America, they proffer farms without cost. They say to the European laborer, who is strongly predisposed to emigrate to the United States, join our church, adopt our principles, obey our leaders, and you shall be assisted to emigrate to a land fertile as Eden's primitive garden, and you

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    may have, without money, and without price, as much of the soil as you desire ; and if sickness, or other misfortune, overtakes you, our whole community is bound to lend you its aid. These are convincing arguments, especially when addressed to the toiling peasantry of the Old World.

    3d. The more opulent have the promise of office in the church, and various pecuniary advantages. At Salt Lake you may see many of these distinguished characters, living in the style of Turkish pachas, in spacious mansions, surrounded by smaller tenements, filled with the women composing their seraglios. Such arguments as these are sufficient to persuade many of the rich, unprincipled, and voluptuous, to become Mormons.

    4th. Another argument constantly urged by these missionaries, is the bloody persecutions which have been endured by the Mormons in the States of Missouri and Illinois. This excites the sympathy of people not acquainted with the circumstances. But if the facts were made known, all would discover that the Mormons have far less right to complain of persecution, than have the inmates of our penitentiaries. Instead of being persecuted, they have not as yet received at the hands of the people a tenth part of their just and legal deserts.

    5th. Another means of building up and sustaining their Society. It is said that most Mormons, male and female, belong to a secret, mystic order, in some particulars resembling Free Masonry, but without a charter from any regularly established Grand Lodge. Of this order, the prophet is Grand Master. They have

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    their signs and pass-words, by which they are known to each other. Their allegiance to this order is superior to any obligation that can be imposed upon them to support the Government of the United States, and stronger than any judicial oath imposed by any magistrate who is not a Mormon.


    It is difficult to convict a Mormon of sedition, or any other crime, when arraigned before the legal tribunals in the United States. Indeed, it is impossible to obtain judgment against them in such cases, as long as Mormon testimony is received. Such is my opinion, and I should have no confidence at all in Mormon witnesses in any supposable case, excepting in a case where one Mormon swears against another. Joe Smith was repeatedly tried on charges of sedition, or treason, but invariably cleared by Mormon testimony. Such will always be the result, in any attempt at legal proceedings against that people, as long as Mormon testimony is received.

    The Mormons were once driven from the State of Missouri, partly by the mob, and partly by the State authorities. They then took refuge in Illinois, fixing their seat of power at Nauvoo, on the Mississippi river. Here they flourished for a time, but soon came in collision with the people, who, after enduring their insults, and suffering from their depredations many years, at length expelled the Ishmaelitish crew from the State, at the point of the sword. This was done by the people, without legal authority. But these people have not been persecuted for "righteousness sake," but for

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    the want of righteousness. These Mormons have often been attacked by mobs. The reason of this is obvious. The people became satisfied that the civil law is absolutely powerless to do justice in reference to Mormons. Their seat of power is now located in Utah Territory, where they have the entire control; and it remains to be seen, how long it will be before they are found in opposition to the General Government. Unless they abandon their theory of law and legislation, it will be impossible for them to remain for any great length of time at peace with the Nation.


    The Rev. Mr. Slater, a California emigrant, was one who stayed at Salt Lake during the Winter of 1850-'51, and afterwards published a pamphlet, in California, illustrating the workings of the Mormon system. The following anecdote is selected from his publication, and it will give the reader some idea of the manner in which justice is administered at Salt Lake. The correctness of Slater's statements were confirmed by the signatures of five hundred California emigrants.

    "In the course of the Winter, an emigrant bought a horse of a Mormon, for which he paid one hundred dollars. Some time after this, the horse was missing. The owner made search for it, without success, and finally came to the conclusion that the animal was lost beyond recovery. After a while, the emigrant found his horse in the possession of another emigrant. Says the first emigrant, "I would like to know by what means you have obtained possession of my horse?" The second replied, "I bought the horse of a Mormon,

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    and paid one hundred dollars for it." On further investigation, it was found that both these emigrants had bought the same identical horse, of the same identical Mormon, and had paid for the same an hundred dollars each! These emigrants proceeded to prosecute the Mormon who had sold the horse: The cause came up for trial before a Mormon Magistrate, there being, of course, no other in the country. It was proved, by the disinterested testimony of emigrants, under oath, that the said Mormon sold that identical horse to both these emigrants. On the side of the defendant, no witnesses were called; but the defendant himself, who had sold the horse, made a statement before the Court, declaring, positively, that he had never owned or sold that particular horse, and had never seen the animal before.

    The inspired Magistrate proceeded to sum up the testimony, and declare the sage judgment of the Court. It was doubtful, in his Honor's opinion, whether either of the parties had ever owned the said horse. The Court, therefore, ordered the animal to be sold, forthwith, to pay the cost. The judgment was promptly executed, and the horse was sold, at once, by the public Crier.

    Multitudes of similar illustrations of Mormon jurisprudence might be given.

    The Mormon theory and practice in relation to the rights of property, may be stated as follows: --


    1st. The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.

    2d. The Saints shall inherit the Earth.

    3d. The Mormons are the Saints of the Most High.

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    4th. The Mormons are the real owners of all the property on Earth, and therefore have a perfect right to take possession of the same, whenever they have power to do so, and can do it with safety to themselves.


    The Mormons claim to live under a theocracy, or Government of God, and hence owe no allegiance to any mere human authority. The decrees of Brigham Young, and the acts of their Legislature, are spoken of by them as revelations from God, in which there can be no error. Magistrates, and other officers, claim to be inspired, and to act under direction from on High. Hence they dispense with written laws, in general, and hold all law books in supreme contempt. They have nothing to do with reports of cases, precedents, or commentaries upon the law. I have heard Brigham Young, in public, scout the very idea of a written law, or law book.


    If the Mormons have been persecuted, as they pretend, yet we would wish to have it distinctly understood, that they have not suffered these things for their opinions, but for their deeds of darkness and of crime. Doubtless, many well-disposed people have joined the Mormons through ignorance of the principles upon which the Society is founded; but can honest men and women remain with them, after they become initiated into the secrets of the Order.


    [ 111 ]


    Determination to leave. -- Move from the City. -- Warm and Hot Springs. -- Dancing Prophet and Priests. -- Webber River -- Wild Fruit. -- Salt Springs. -- A long Promontory. -- Optical Illusion. -- Huge Crickets -- Strange Toads -- Birds. -- Wonderful Springs. -- Subterranean Fires -- Volcanic Crater. -- River running beneath a Mountain. -- Glimpse of the Lake. -- Warm Springs. -- A Sink. -- Sage Bush. -- Great Central 'Basin Described. -- Returning Mormon Train. -- Insufficient Arms. -- Carson's Creek. -- Shoshonee Indians. -- Towering Monuments. -- Grand Prospect. Behind the great Crowd. -- Carcases, Vultures, and Wolves. -- Valley of Dry Bones. -- Total Abstinence. -- Hot Springs -- Clouds of Steam. -- A Strange Carriage. -- Indians. -- A Warning. -- The Humboldt. -- Indian Camp -- Trout. -- Indian Murders. -- Returning Train. -- Splendid Hot Spring. -- A Thieving Indian -- Dangerous Ground. -- Jerking Beef. -- The Humboldt -- Indian Battle. -- Traffic -- A Library in the Desert. -- Indian Depredations. -- A Corpse found, and buried. -- Hot Springs -- An Emigrant killed. -- Three Men killed.


    Thursday, August 29th, 1850. -- At one time, I had almost come to the conclusion to stop at Salt Lake through the Winter. The Mormons tried to discourage all emigrants who were going to the mines, They told us that Salt Lake was a far better country, in which to earn money, than California; that the journey to the mines was horrible, beyond all description, and that it was altogether too late in the season, now, to start, and that, without doubt, we should be buried in snow on

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    the mountains. About one thousand emigrants were, by such arguments, induced to tarry in the valley until Spring. They afterwards lamented the day on which they came to that fatal determination. But these had not chanced, as yet, to obtain a distinct view of the "Mormon elephant."

    I have since learned from great numbers of those who stayed in the valley through the Winter, that in general they were well treated by the Mormons, until cold weather set in, rendering it impossible to go forward on their journey, then their conduct towards the Gentiles was totally reversed, and they afterwards found no sympathy, friendship, or justice in the proceedings of the "Saints." The Mormons then adopted a policy, in relation, to the emigrants, of the most cruel and heartless character.

    A few of us had seen enough, already, to satisfy us that no real favors could be expected from Mormons. We were totally disgusted with a place where petty, upstart tyrants reigned without control, and rather than stay any longer, we chose to encounter the fatigues of the journey -- the terrors of the Indian's scalping-knife -- and the avalanches of snow among the mountains. If we lived to get through, we were in hopes of arriving in a country which was, at least, under the protecting wing of the American Eagle. I hired my passage on board a wagon, drawn by three yoke of oxen, all in good condition. My immediate associates were two Swedes, and three Americans.


    At three o'clock, afternoon, we left the Mormon city, without a tear of regret, and moved onward, taking the

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    northern route to California, which leads around the northern extremity of the great Salt Lake.


    At the north side of the city we passed the Warm Spring. The water is somewhat warmer than blood-heat, is transparent, and affords a large quantity. It is a medicinal spring, of the chalybeate kind, similar to the Harrowgate Springs in England, or the Massena Springs, in St. Lawrence County, New York. There is a bathing-house erected here, which is owned by a Mormon Bishop.

    Four miles further on, we passed the Hot Spring. The temperature is near the boiling point. The spring issues from the base of a rock, which is a projection from the mountain, filling a basin, of twelve feet across, and of unknown depth. The stream from the spring is of sufficient size to carry a grist-mill, over which boiling flood we pass on a slight bridge. Our road runs along the base of the chain of mountains which forms the eastern boundary of Salt Lake Valley. The mountain is on our right hand, and an inclined plane between us and the lake, on our left.

    At dark, came into a large Mormon settlement, and encamped. A Mormon here tried to persuade us to give up our present undertaking, but we were, at this time, proof against any persuasion coming from such a source. Distance, eleven miles.


    August 30th. -- Our road is fine, and perfectly level, and is seldom more than a mile distant from the mountain.

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    In the afternoon, we met a number of fine carriages, on board of which was the Governor, and the leaders of the Mormons; also, a number of ladies, and the brass band. "We understood that this party had been up to Webber river, for the purpose of fixing upon a site, upon which to build another city. The party, on the way up, stopped one night with a brother Mormon, by the name of Brown, where they had a ball, or dance, in the evening, to the music of the violin, the Chief Priest and Prophet leading off the head of the figure. The Divine Blessing was invoked, in a short prayer, before commencing this pious exercise. The custom of opening a ball with prayer, is general among these "Latter Day Saints." Whether this mingling of praying, fiddling, and dancing, is altogether proper, I shall not undertake to determine.

    At sun-set, arrived on the bank of Webber river, and encamped in a grove of poplars. In this vicinity is an extensive settlement of Mormons.

    Distance, twenty-nine miles.


    August 31st. -- Started early, and forded Webber river, which is now very low, and has but little resemblance to this turbulent stream, when we crossed it on the eighth of July. At eleven o'clock, passed the last house we expect to see, for the distance of seven hundred miles.

    Before noon, we passed a great number of springs of hot salt water, from which the streams flow down upon the plain towards the lake, and expand into numerous shallow ponds, the surface of which, as seen from the

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    road, appear to be encrusted with salt. A white bank of the same article lies around their margins.

    We encamped soon after noon, on the bank of a creek of cold, fresh water, where we found a grove of English Black Haws. The trees were bent beneath the load of ripe fruit, and we gathered a bushel or two for future use. We here overtook a number of emigrant teams, and were glad to find that we were not the only travelers upon this lonesome road. Distance, fifteen miles.


    September 1st, -- Sunday. -- Still pursuing our course, at the base of the mountain, which rises like a wall of naked rocks on our right. Towards the northern end of the lake, I perceive that a high mountain promontory makes out from the shore, in a direction nearly south, almost dividing the lake into two parts. This promontory cuts off the prospect, so that we can see only the sheet of water between it and the eastern shore. This sheet varies in width from five to twenty-five miles. At the city we can see past the southern extremity of the cape, and obtain a view of the broad expanse beyond it. The lake is there of such extent, that the sun seems, at setting, to sink beneath its briny waves.


    I will here state a fact that has been noticed by all persons who have traveled the overland route to California. In all the mountain region through which we pass, the space between us and any distant object seems diminished in a remarkable manner. An object is

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    really four or five times further off than you would judge, until by experience you learn to estimate distances in this singular region of the globe.

    The philosophic cause of this phenomena, may be the abruptness and height of the mountains, and the thinness and transparency of the atmosphere.

    We have seen no wild game, except rabbits, since leaving the city. Wolves have serenaded us at night, and there are said to be brown and grisly bears in the mountains.


    Black crickets, of enormous size, are numerous in all the barren tracts; also, a species of lizard, and toads with horns and tails decorated with bright and variegated colors. There are but few birds in this valley, of the same species as those found in the States. Crows and buzzards are, however, sufficiently numerous. Sage hens bear some resemblance to the prairie chickens of the Western States, though they are much larger, and better food when cooked.


    To-day we passed a great number of springs, that would have been regarded as great curiosities, if met with in any other country except this. Many of these springs were boiling hot, and held in solution the greatest possible amount of salt. They burst from the rocks near the base of the mountain. The water is very transparent. Several teams took on board their wagons kegs of this water, for the purpose of seasoning food, and preserving meat. In some places, we noticed

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    both hot and cold springs issuing from the rocks quite near together. In one instance, at least, there is a large spring of boiling salt water, that pours out of a chasm in the rock not more than two inches from one that is both cold and fresh. A sheet of rock divides the streams; they both fall into and mingle in the same basin. There is a constant succession of these springs for a mile or two, and they form a strange variety, being of all temperatures, from extreme cold to boiling heat, and of every grade of saltness.


    It would seem that this whole region rests upon subterranean volcanoes, and at some future day a fiery deluge may fill the entire valley of Salt Lake with a sea of molten lava. This would be to the modern Sodom a fate like that which we are told in ancient times befel the cities of the plain. If such a catastrophe should happen, and if in their flight, any Mormon should look behind, he might easily be turned to a pillar of salt, if he should chance to fall into certain springs along this road.

    At a late hour we arrived on the bank of Bear river, and encamped. Distance, twenty-five miles.


    September 2d. -- Forded Bear river early in the morning. This is the same terrible stream that we crossed, seventy miles before arriving at Salt Lake. Where we now cross, is twenty miles from its entrance into the lake; it is twenty rods wide, and four

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    feet deep, running swiftly over a bed of pebbles. We got through without accident.

    The Mormons say that this river runs through a subterranean passage for many miles, under a chain of mountains that forms the eastern boundary of the valley, and that its egress into the plain is at no great distance above this ford. A considerable share of the water of this stream, after passing the ford, sinks in the sandy plain before it reaches the lake.


    After crossing the river, our course lay for several miles across a dusty plain to the south-west, and then over a bench of high land, which is the southern terminus of a chain of mountains that stretch far to the north. We then came down into a fine valley, two miles wide, and turning to the north-west, ascended, gradually, seven miles. The hills on each side are of moderate elevation, smooth on the surface, and covered with green grass. The whole presents quite a pleasing landscape. We caught, for the last time, a distant glimpse of the great Salt Lake, about fifteen miles to the south. We are, therefore, passing the northern extremity of the lake.

    Toward evening, descended an inclined plane six miles, and encamped near a multitude of warm springs, all of which are slightly tinctured with salt. Where they rose from the ground, they were rather too warm for cattle to drink, but by following the streams downward, we found water sufficiently cool for that purpose.

    Distance, twenty-four miles.

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    September 3d. -- Took a north-westerly course, winding among hills of moderate height; high, snowy mountains visible to the south-west. Three teams, only, in company with us. One great annoyance in traveling this road at this season, is the dust. The tramping of the cattle raises clouds that often conceal the whole train from sight. This dust seems to be composed of a soil naturally fertile, but perfectly dried by the long drouth of Summer, whilst the vast amount of travel has pulverised it, to the width of fifty feet, to the fineness of flour. Being so very light, the least touch, or gale of wind, sets masses of it in motion.

    We came on to Sink Creek, that runs from a large spring of good water. The stream issues from a canyon in a neighboring mountain, and running a course of three miles into a beautiful little valley, the water spreads itself over the ground, and sinks, or is evaporated, thus irrigating two or three hundred acres of land, which, in consequence, yields a luxuriant crop of grass.

    Passing along, we arrived at Deep Creek, and encamped among sage bushes, which cover all the surrounding prospect, except a narrow strip of bottom-land along the stream. Distance, eighteen miles.

    September 4th. -- The sage bush is the main article for fuel, for more than a thousand miles of this journey. Being of such importance to travelers, it may merit a brief description:

    The leaves, when green, have a resemblance to those of the garden sage. A large number of stalks grow crowded together in a thick cluster, and are from two

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    to eight feet high, and some of them are six inches in diameter, tapering rapidly towards the top. It is a shrub. The grain is remarkably winding, and the leaves have a strong aromatic smell. The wood has an agreeable odor, similar to that of beeswax, and when dry, is nearly of the same color. I have often heard it affirmed, that a decoction of the root, of two years' growth, is a real specific for land scurvy. There is an abundance of dry stalks in most places, which being very combustible, are especially convenient in raising a sudden fire. Millions of acres in our vast interior are covered with this shrub. It would be difficult to cross the desert plains without its aid, as there is but a trifling amount of timber besides. Among these bushes, we quite commonly find, here and there, a scattering blade of grass, which seems to be of a very nutritious quality. Cattle can barely subsist upon it when they can do no better. Distance, eighteen miles.


    September 5th. -- The interior of the North American Continent is, for a general rule, nothing more than a desert, with here and there an oasis. The extent of this tract must amount to more than a million of square miles, being more than one thousand miles in length and breadth. I am satisfied that the cause of this eternal barrenness is the want of rain. The soil is generally of such a nature, that irrigation would render it highly productive. Much of this vast tract is destitute of springs, or streams, hence can never be irrigated, and therefore seems condemned, by a decree of Nature, to everlasting sterility.

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    We moved along six miles, and arrived at an oasis, at the sink of Deep Creek, where we concluded to rest through the day and recruit the teams. Here we find more than a square mile of green grass, full waist high. Deep Creek is a good-sized mill stream, until it arrives at this place, where its waters spread around and sink in the plain, near its center, which plain is a desert, about twenty miles across.

    Having leisure to-day, I will give a general description of the region usually styled the "Great Basin," in which we are now traveling.

    The Basin is bounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the west, and by the mountains east of Salt Lake on the east, the Oregon mountains on the north, whilst a chain of high mountains limit the Basin to the south. The whole is in somewhat of a square form, from six to eight hundred miles on each side, and nearly four thousand miles in circuit. The mountain chains by which it is entirely surrounded, are styled the "Rim of the Basin." No streams or rivers that take their rise within the Rim, can make their way out, except by evaporation, or by sinking in the deserts. The great Salt Lake itself is only an immense sink, where several rivers - and numerous streams are swallowed up.

    Many people conceive of the Great Basin, as of an immense plain, or at least as somewhat of a level country, having the Salt Lake in the center. Salt Lake, however, is near the eastern limit of the Basin, and so far is the country from being a plain, that, on the contrary, it consists of a vast assemblage of barren hills and mountains, running in every possible direction, many of which are as lofty as the rim of the Basin itself.

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    Dispersed around among these mountains, are innumerable canons, and valleys, some grassy plains, and many barren deserts of wide extent. A road has been sought out which winds around through valleys and defiles, and never ascends a mountain, where it is possible to get along any other way.


    In the course of the day, a small train of Mormons passed us on their return from California. They gave us very discouraging accounts of what we may expect on the road, and even after we get to the gold region. These Mormons had, doubtless, received orders from the head prophet at Salt Lake to discourage, as much as possible, all California emigrants.

    A few hours afterward, another train of returning Californians passed by. These last were not Mormons. They are direct from the mines, and their accounts are quite encouraging. They say that gold is plenty there, and food and clothing abundant.

    We have now eight wagons, and forty men in company. The nights are cold and frosty.

    Distance, six miles.

    September 6th. -- Proceeded due west over an extensive plain, surrounded on all sides by high moun- tains, except a narrow opening towards the north-west. At noon, halted at Pilot Springs. They burst out of the level desert, and after a course of half a mile, sink again in the dusty plain. In the afternoon, rose several successive terraces of land, up to near the base of a mountain, where we encamped by the side of several

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    good springs. Two Shoshonee Indians came to our camp on horseback, armed with rifles, and stayed with us a part of the night. It is now judged necessary to guard our cattle at night, to prevent theft by the Indians. Our company is small, and the duty severe. The whole declivity of the mountain below us, and stretching far to the right and left, is studded over with clumps of cedar trees, 'twelve or fifteen feet high, with large round tops, giving the whole landscape the appearance of an immense orchard. Among these sequestered shades, we saw a new grave of a man who died of sickness on the twenty-first of August.

    Distance, eighteen miles.


    September 7th. -- Breakfasted on rabbit soup; these animals being numerous, and of large size, in this quarter. Proceeding along the bench of land, through scattering groves, we soon came to an open, undulating plain, destitute of all vegetation except the everlasting sage, and greasewood bushes. A mountain, ten miles to the south, shows large bodies of snow near its summit. Crossed a fine, clear creek, twelve feet wide, and soon after descended an inclined plane eight miles, and encamped near the sink of a very small stream, where we found a scant supply of grass. We are now only four wagons and twenty men, in company, and are poorly armed. Among us are only five rifles, and two pistols. We are in a bad condition to fight a battle with the Indians, should we have occasion to do so.

    Distance, eighteen miles....

    (remainder of text not transcribed)

    Transcriber's Comments
    Langworthy's Scenery of the Plains

    (under construction)


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