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Up and Down California in 1860-1864;
The Journal of William H. Brewer:
Book 4, Chapter 7

Frontier Characters—Shasta Valley—Pluto’s Cave—Yreka—Indian Styles—Cottonwood—A Sick Man—Deadwood—Scott’s Bar—The Klamath—Sciad Ranch—The Siskiyou Mountains—Happy Camp—Sailor Diggings—Arrastras—Lewis’ Ranch—Low Divide—A Wager.

Crescent City, California.
November 11, 1863.

It is just a month since I sent my last letter and over a month since I have written anything. I am safely here, alone—King and John have both returned—the rains have set in—and I shall return also the first opportunity—that is, the first steamer—and in the meantime, with this prelude, will continue my journal in the order of events.

October 6 we came on toward Yreka, about fifteen miles, up a volcanic table, through fine forests of pine and spruce.

October 7 we came on twenty-six miles, over tables of lava, the decomposed top forming a rather fertile soil covered with forests, not dense, but of large and beautiful trees—pines, cedars, spruce, and fir—in places the more rocky hills covered with chaparral.

One plain, Elk Valley, three or four miles in width, is without trees, and the views of Mount Shasta rising in its single cone, very sharp, eleven thousand feet above us, its top covered with snow, would delight the painter and enchant the lover of the grand.

There have been some Indian troubles on the road during the summer, and all the people—consisting of but one family, however—have been run off.

We camped by a stream, by a hunter’s cabin, known as “Pilgrim Camp.” The hunter came in just as we arrived, bringing with him five deer, which he had just shot. We bought the half of a fine, large, fat buck and again luxuriated on venison. We camped in front of his cabin. In the evening an old man came along, a German, from the Moselle, old and gray, who had served ten years under Napoleon. He regaled us with stories of his youthful campaigns. He crossed the plains this summer, from Kansas; the bushwhackers had driven him out and he has taken up a ranch, the previous owners of which were killed by the Indians last year.

We stayed one day at this camp. It is a wild place, no neighbors near; deep snows fall in winter and treacherous Indians infest it in summer. This hunter is a strange character. He is an extraordinary shot, as many an Indian has found—I cannot say to his sorrow, for he never wounds—his first shot, whether with revolver or rifle, is sure death. The Indians have long since ceased to molest him. They hold him in superstitious awe, as they have never been able to hit him with an arrow, while the Indian who made the attempt has always lost his life. No band of savages seems a match for his quick observation and unerring rifle. He is not a young man, rather of middle age, and has a bad reputation, but he treated us cordially. His name is More; he was born in Kentucky, but early ran away from home to the frontiers of Texas, where, between fighting Indians and hunting, he led an adventurous life. Thence he went to the frontiers of Missouri, and then came here. He says that he found the life of the “honest miner” too civilized for him, so he again turned hunter. He has made money here, and still makes it, by the sale of venison and skins, and he hoards his gold like a miser, burying it in the earth. He was very talkative, saying that he had to use his visitors for he did not often get them, and many of his sayings were pithy and witty in the extreme. He is one of those erratic characters with which this state abounds.

October 9 we came on to Shasta Valley, over the pass on the east side of Shasta Peak. This pass is about six thousand feet high and very gradual. The views of the peak were the most sublime we have yet had. We were up to within two thousand feet of the lower edge of the snow, in the sparse timber and pure air of this height. The peak rose over seven thousand feet above us, a very sharp cone, against the intensely blue sky. At times light feathery clouds condensed and curled around the peak, but soon dissolved in the warmer air beyond.

We descended into Shasta Valley, a plain of lava, generally barren and desolate, but in places with a thick soil where there are ranches. I was delegated with a message to the first one; I stopped at the cabin, found a squaw with painted face and some pretty, half-breed children—half-white but scarcely half-civilized. We camped at Hurd’s Ranch, north of Shasta Peak, which loomed up grandly, over twelve thousand feet above us.

October 10 in the morning we went to visit a cave about three-quarters of a mile distant, just discovered, and of which extraordinary stories were told. It was, indeed, quite a curiosity. It is called Pluto’s Cave. The surface of the country is a gentle lava slope, very rocky, with but little soil and with stunted cedars and bushes, the lava rising into innumerable hummocks a few feet high. Under this the cave extends. It looks as if the surface of the great lava flow had cooled, but that the crust had broken somewhere lower down and a long stream of the fluid had run out, leaving a long, empty channel or gallery. The roof of this gallery is beautifully arched—in places it is at least fifty feet high and as many broad. The bottom is of broken blocks of lava, and the sides are occasionally ornamented with fantastic shapes of stone, where the melted or viscous fluid has oozed through cracks, sometimes in a thick, black stream, like tar, then cooled, in others like froth on the surface of the molten mass—but all now cool enough, hard, rough, black rock. We went in near a mile, to the end, or at least to where the fallen fragments blocked up the way. Multitudes of bats lived in it, even to the very end. Near the entrance the roof had broken in in several places, and there were many skulls of mountain sheep that had got in and perished. These are the chamois of the Rocky Mountains and Sierra. They are nearer a goat than sheep, and have enormous horns, hence some hunters call them the “big horn.” On one of these skulls the horns were 14 1/2 inches in circumference at the base and 33 inches between the tips.1

In the afternoon we rode to Yreka and camped in a field near town. Our way led across the volcanic plain. On the north side rose an innumerable number of small, sharp volcanic cones, the highest but a few hundred feet above the plain. On the south was the majestic form of Mount Shasta, the grand feature in the landscape, the one I never tire in writing about, although you must be tired of the repetition.

At Yreka I found a tremendous pile of letters, no less than fifteen, besides some for King. Some were from friends not heard from for a long time. These letters were read, and on the next day, a quiet Sunday, were again read over and over again, and some few answered. You at home little know the blessed charm that letters can have, their true value to the person that wanders, homeless and desolate, especially when his bed is the ground and his canopy the sky, and when all he holds dear is so far away.

We remained at Yreka three days, camped in a quiet field about a mile and a half from town. We were often visited by Indians—there was a large encampment near us. Some of them were the best looking I had yet seen in the state, far superior to the miserable Diggers of the central part of the state. Some of the squaws were quite pretty, but they had their faces painted in strange ways, often looking absolutely disgusting. Some had streaks of black, others streaks of black and bright red, others red with a red streak running over the top of the head; some appeared as if spattered with black or red or both—mere daubs of color, without any apparent design. I was told that all these styles mean something—married and single women paint differently—but what they mean I did not study out. These Indians are the remains of several tribes, the Klamath, Shasta, Siskiyou, and another tribe—now all united into one which numbers about two hundred warriors.

Yreka is a rather pretty little place, surrounded by low hills, with mining in all the gulches. While here, the temperature sank to freezing every night, but the days were warm.

Wednesday, October 14, we left Yreka and went to Cottonwood, about twenty or twenty-two miles—first across the valley-plain northeast, with grand views of Mount Shasta, then among low hills to Klamath River, which we crossed by a ferry. We camped about a mile from the town of Cottonwood, and as far from the river, in a field, a rather dirty place, without the shelter of trees from the sun by day or the cold of night, and remained there five days.

We stopped at the ranch of a poor man who had a little house, some fields, hay for our animals, a pretty wife and five little children, the oldest apparently not over seven or eight years old. I pitied the poor woman, for he was sick—I did not know how sick until she sent for me to see if I was a doctor or could help him. There was no doctor within twenty-two miles, and to get one costs fifty to seventy-five dollars per visit, which the man could ill afford to pay, so he had to put it off until he was not only in intense agony, but his life, I thought, in danger. So I set to work to doctor him, went into town late in the evening for remedies, and happily effected speedy and complete relief. He slept well the rest of the night, the first sleep for some days, and felt well in the morning, so he got up, ran around some, and was, of course, taken down again as a consequence. I will sum up by saying that I doctored him again before I left, to his great relief and the unbounded gratitude of his poor overworked wife. We were supplied with an abundance of good butter and milk while we were there, great luxuries to us, without pay, for they would take nothing. If he had not been relieved that night he would in all probability have died within a week. So much for my medical practice and its happy success.

Cottonwood is a little mining town, once busy and hustling, now mostly “played out,” two-thirds of its houses empty, its business dull, the whole place looking as if stricken with a curse. You have no idea of the dilapidation of a mining town in its decline, before it is entirely dead.

We found much of geological interest and were busy enough during our short stay. One day we rode up the valley, crossed the line into Oregon, and climbed the Siskiyou Mountains. The state line was about eight miles from our camp. The view we had was fine, extending south to Mount Shasta and north far into Oregon. Mount Pitt2 is a grand object, a perfect cone, about nine thousand feet high, rising far above all the surrounding mountains.

The hills have all taken on the colors of autumnal foliage, not so brilliant as we have it in the East, but more so than we have it farther south in this state. Fall weather is coming on. The Sunday we spent there storms played around the peaks of the Siskiyou chain north of us and whitened them with snow.

Here was our last camp. I resolved to send John back to San Francisco Bay with our pack animals and take King and strike across to the ocean. The season is getting too far advanced to live much longer in camp, the clear nights are intensely cold, and without shelter it is impossible to sleep warm. The six nights we were there the temperature sank as follows: 25°, 23°, 15°, 19°, 22°, and the last night 10°—entirely too cold to lie out on the ground under the open sky.

You have no idea what appetites such cold air and such a life promote. In Genesee Valley during six days we three ate thirty-six pounds of beefsteak, besides other food—and on the Shasta trail we three ate forty-four pounds of venison in seven days, besides the other food.

Crescent City.
November 15.

October 20 was clear and cold. We ate our last camp breakfast, gave our tin plates, frying pan, coffeepot, etc., to the family where we stopped, for we had our mules packed with specimens, and took our way back to Yreka, where we stopped at a hotel for the night.

October 21 I started John back to San Francisco with one horse and two mules, a long and weary ride of four hundred miles to make alone. I packed up all our baggage except a change of clothes which I carried in my saddlebags, and with King started and rode west over a range of mountains and stopped at Deadwood. Our horses had not been accustomed to grain for some time and were slightly foundered by a mess last night.

Deadwood is a busy little mining town, lively and noisy enough today, for there has been a judicial election, a very important one, all over the state. One of the Democratic candidates for Supreme Judge, a Mr. Todd Robinson, is an out-and-out Secessionist, refuses to take the oath of allegiance, proclaims his Secession proclivities, etc. He had friends here, and the barroom of our house was lively and noisy enough. A motley crowd were drinking, talking politics, and some playing poker.

October 22 we came on to Scott’s Bar, near the mouth of Scott River. We rode down Cherry Creek a few miles to Fort Jones, which lies in a beautiful valley near Scott River. Mining is going on along all these streams and many clusters of miners’ cabins occur along the route.

From Fort Jones we followed down the lovely Scott Valley for some miles—a rich bottom, with fertile ranches, surrounded with high and very steep mountains, rough and rugged, and furrowed into very deep canyons. Scott River at last flows for some miles in one of these canyons, so we had to go over a high mountain to avoid it. Our road was a mere trail, and the hill was tremendous. We descended the steep slope nearly three thousand feet and struck the river again and followed it down that to Scott’s Bar. This was once quite an important town. Placers, rich and abundant, called together a busy and thriving population. Several hotels and stores and many saloons did a thriving business. But the placers are mostly worked out, the population has started after new mines and fresh excitements, over half the houses are empty, four-fifths of the population gone, business has decayed, and the town is dilapidated. We stopped at a rather large hotel, now desolate—its few boarders look lonely in it. It is kept by a rather pretty grass widow, whose husband has left the sinking town and his unfaithful and too frail wife for the northern mines.

The mines are not all exhausted, the deeper bars still pay. Deep excavations are dug below the river bed, large water wheels, turned by the swift current, pump the water out of these claims, and some are paying well. One piece was found this day weighing some two or three pounds, an uncommon good strike. The big wheels creaked dolefully all night long, and seemed to bewail the decline of the decaying town.

From Scott’s Bar we followed down the river three miles to the Klamath River, and then followed down that. High mountains rise on both sides, perhaps five thousand feet above the river, and in many places the canyon proper is at least three thousand feet deep. In the bottom of this gorge flows the river, swift and muddy, and precipitous canyons come down from either side. The trail is at times over rocks close by the river, at others it winds over spurs and ridges and abounds in picturesque views.

There was no tillable land as we passed along, but formerly there were rich placers, and ten years ago a large population lived in this canyon, and you will see some places noted on your maps; but all this has passed away, the miner leaves only desolation in his track, and everywhere here he has left his traces.

We passed what was once the town of Hamburg, two years ago a bustling village—a large cluster of miners’ cabins, three hotels, three stores, two billiard saloons, and all the other accompaniments of a mining town—now all is gone. The placers were worked out, the cabins became deserted, and the floods of two years ago finished its history by carrying off all the houses, or nearly all—the boards of the rest are now built into a cluster of a dozen huts. A camp of Klamath Indians on the river bank is the only population at present! Their faces were daubed with paint, their huts were squalid. Just below were some Indian graves. A little inclosure of sticks surrounded them. Each grave is a conical mound, and lying on them, or hanging on poles over them, are the worldly goods of the deceased—the baskets in which they gathered their acorns, their clothing and moccasins, arms and implements, strings of beads, and other ornaments—decaying along with their owners.

In contrast with this was a sadder sight—a cluster of graves of the miners who had died while the town remained. Boards had once been set up at their graves, but most had rotted off and fallen—the rest will soon follow. Bushes have grown over the graves, and soon they, as well as the old town, will be forgotten.

Friends in distant lands, mothers in far off homes, may still be wondering, often with a sigh, what has become of loved sons who years ago sought their fortunes in the land of gold, but who laid their bones on the banks of the Klamath and left no tidings behind. Alas, how many a sad history is hidden in the neglected and forgotten graves that are scattered among the wild mountains that face the Pacific!

The population has not entirely left this portion of the river, however. Here and there may be seen a white man, and industrious Chinamen patiently ply with rockers for the yellow dust.

About midway between Scott’s Bar and Happy Camp a side stream of considerable size comes in from the northeast, called Sciad Creek, and here is a fertile little flat of about a hundred acres, the best ranch perhaps in the entire county of Siskiyou. It is known as the Sciad Ranch. We crossed the river by a ferry to it, and stopped two days. It is a delightful spot—it seems an oasis in a desert. Here lives a thriving New York farmer, from Ulster County or Orange County, named Reeves, and he is making money faster than if he were mining for gold. He treated us very kindly indeed and we luxuriated on delicious apples, pears, and plums. His table groaned under the weight of well-cooked food, in pleasing contrast with the miserable taverns of the last few days, and we did ample justice to his good fare.

He came here in 1854, and says that the first year he raised twenty thousand pounds of potatoes per acre, which he sold for fifteen cents per pound! But times and prices have changed. His potatoes yield this year about fifteen thousand pounds per acre, and he complains that he gets no price for them—he sells them at four cents per pound, only about $2.40 per bushel—his fruit goes at 12 1/2 cents per pound. The place is a pretty one, picturesque, and fertile. But he wants to get away. He has some pretty little girls growing, who are here caged up from the world, from society, from schools, and all means of improvement—no wonder he wants to sell out.

Just north of this ranch are several high peaks of the Siskiyou Mountains. Three conspicuous points are known as the Three Devils. I climbed one of these. It was a steep slope about four thousand feet above the valley, but several higher peaks lay back of us. Two men from the ranch went up with me, merely for the pleasure of the trip. One was a German who plays the key bugle. He carried it up with him and every little while awakened the echoes of the silent mountains with its notes.

The day was very smoky, and the landscape spread out around us rough in the extreme—the whole region a mountainous

From a lithograph published by J. M. Hutchings in 1855
Scott's Bar
From a lithograph published by J. M. Hutchings in 1855
one—the peaks five thousand to seven thousand feet high, some indeed much higher—and all furrowed into deep canyons and sharp ridges, many of the former over two thousand feet deep. The hills are covered with scattered timber, not dense enough to be called forests, or in places with shrubby chaparral. With the exception of the ranch below us there is no tillable land; there is nothing to make the region ever a desirable home for any considerable population.

The whole of this wide landscape was bathed in smoky vapor, and the mountains faded in it at no great distance. On a clear day Mount Shasta is in view in the southeast, and the ocean in the southwest, but then both were invisible. It would be difficult to say where the smoky earth ceased and the smoky sky began.

October 26 we left this place and came on thirty miles, over a good but rough trail.

Here let me say that our way is a mere trail—no wagon road enters this part of the state. The region is too rough to admit them, except at an enormous cost of construction, so the county builds a trail, just as wagon roads are built in other places, suitable for riding or packing.

We followed down the Klamath River eighteen miles, the trail abounding in the most picturesque views to be imagined, the mountains rising three or four thousand feet on both sides from the swift river. Once we crossed a spur and rose perhaps two thousand feet or more above the river, commanding a grand view of the canyon beneath, into which we descended again at another turn of the river.

Here and there a poor Chinaman plies his rocker, gleaning gold from sand, once worked over with more profit, but there are few white inhabitants left until we reach Happy Camp.

We passed some huts of Indians and some Indian graves. Over a squaw’s grave I noticed a calico dress, such as white women wear, once doubtless a prized article, now fluttering in tatters from a pole stuck in the grave. We passed many deserted cabins and houses during the day—some were once quite neat.

Happy Camp is a group or village of miners, with hotel, saloon, etc., but the place looks on its decline. We merely passed through it, left the river here, and struck north up Indian Creek for twelve miles. There were no houses until we reached Indiantown, where we spent the night. There is some mining here, but not what there once was, the place like all the rest is falling into piteous dilapidation. We stopped at a miserable hole, once a “hotel.” Our horses had no hay so they gnawed their ropes and the wooden posts. We fared a little better—we got some salt pork and biscuit.

We found that the dirty, blear-eyed, old, broken-down landlord showed traces of once having had some intelligence. He told us his history, and King chanced to have corroborative evidence of its truth. He was once wealthy, one of the “solid men” of Brooklyn, president of the Northern Transportation Company, a rich and powerful business corporation. He broke and came to California in charge of government stores, in 1847, before the discovery of gold here, and has been here since. Here he grew rich twice, but lost all both times in reckless speculation. Now he is poor enough, looks miserable, broken-down, and sad. There seems no probability of Fortune ever again taking him by the hand as of yore. These histories I so often run against here sadden me and make me pity the poor wretch who makes his grand end and aim of life the acquisition of gold, and who is under the influence of the insane desire to grow suddenly rich.

October 27 we crossed the Siskiyou Mountains to Sailor Diggings, just over the line in Oregon. Our trail ded up a hill some three thousand feet or more above our starting point in the morning and stopping place at night—a tremendous hill. The views were very fine. The stupendous canyons—those of Klamath River and its tributaries—the snowy form of Mount Shasta in the distance, the rugged peaks of the Siskiyou, some of them spotted with snow, the view far into Oregon—all were beautiful. We struck the head of Illinois River and followed it down to Sailor Diggings.

San Francisco.
December, 1863.

Sailor Diggings, or Waldo, as it is officially called, is a mining town in Josephine County, Oregon, but so near the state line that for a time it voted in California. Here were formerly very rich diggings, and some pay yet. A single piece of gold once found near here weighed over fifteen pounds and was worth over $3,100.

I spent the next day here and rode out ten miles to visit a quartz mine, the only one worked in this region. The principal owner and manager is a very intelligent young German, who treated us very kindly. The quartz is crushed and gold extracted by arrastra, the old Spanish method. The machinery consists of a sort of large shallow tub, about twelve feet in diameter and two feet high, the staves of thick plank, the bottom of stones firmly laid in a solid formation. In the center there is an upright shaft with four arms, like the arms of an old-fashioned cider mill. These are stout and short, and to each one several rocks, each weighing several hundred pounds, are fastened by chains. The whole is driven by water power. The quartz is broken with hammers into pieces as large as apples, and several hundred pounds are thrown in this tub with water. The heavy bowlders are dragged over them, grinding and crushing, finally reducing the material to a pulp like thin mush. There is some quicksilver always in the bottom, which runs into the hollows between the stones of the bottom or bed and dissolves most of the gold. After it is thoroughly pulverized it is run through a trough about a foot wide with water in a shallow stream. On the bottom of these troughs are coarse woolen blankets, in the hairs of which the fine particles of gold are caught. Every few minutes these blankets are washed in a large tub of water, which removes this gold.

In this way about twenty-five dollars of gold is extracted from each ton of rock crushed, which is probably scarcely half that it contains. The process is a crude one, and its only recommendation is its cheapness, as a mill of this kind can be built for $2,000 to $5,000, while an improved mill, with stamps, such as I described in a previous letter, costs from $15,000 to $150,000, according to the size and the locality, cost of freight, etc.

October 29 we left Sailor Diggings and went west about twenty-eight miles and stopped at Lewis’ Ranch. Sailor Diggings lies in a basin or flat covered with open forests—in places oaks, grand old trees; in others forests of pines.

We rose some three thousand to four thousand feet and commanded a grand view—the distant Cascade Range, in Oregon, the fine cone of Mount Pitt, the rugged mountains of the Siskiyou in the south and southeast; while west, stretching to the distant horizon lay the broad Pacific, blue and quiet. We could see its waters for at least two hundred miles north and south and far out to the west.

We followed along on the crest of ridges for several miles, with deep canyons on every side, the soil barren but supporting a growth of low bushes, scarcely dense enough to be called chaparral, with here and there a small pine or cedar. One species of pine bears cones when but two feet high, and little trees ten feet high were fruitful with them.

The road at last sank into a very deep canyon—perhaps near three thousand feet deep—and steep, but the road is not bad. It is the great artery of supplies for southern Oregon. In this canyon, on the North Fork of Smith River, again in California, we struck Lewis’ Ranch, the first house for many miles, and here we found the neatest place and the best supper we had seen for many a day.

This is the center of a new mining district, known as the Rockland District. Copper mines have been discovered this summer, and all is excitement; here we stopped three days. The first two days we spent in exploring the copper leads. Croppings of copper occur along a line of about eight miles, and it is all taken up in claims. Drifts are being run, shafts being sunk, prospecting being done, and many hope for great riches soon—alas, many to be disappointed. Some of the ore looks very fine, and some few of the large number of claims may eventually pay, but more money will be made by shrewd speculation in “stocks” of the infant mines than from the ore derived from them. The region is a very rough one, the canyons deep and steep, the hills rising two or three thousand feet.

Sunday, November 1, was a dull, foggy, drizzly, rainy day, the first we had seen for many a long month—since last February or March. But we were in a very cozy place. We sat in the parlor and chatted with the ladies and had a pleasant time.

Mr. Lewis was born in Georgia but moved to Pennsylvania, lived among the Quakers, and married there. His wife was a Quaker, and uses the “thee” and “thou” in the good old-fashioned style. She has a rather pretty daughter, lately married, and still living at home. They live in a quaint house in a deep canyon, no neighbors near. Although it is a lonely place so far as neighbors are concerned, many teams pass, and the teamsters stop and make the house ring with their noisy mirth. An immense amount of teaming goes over this road into southern Oregon.

We sold our two poor, jaded, worn-out horses here—both, with their saddles and bridles, for fifty dollars. They were two that we bought this summer, and although I had ridden them but two or three hundred miles, yet they had been in the party and I felt like parting with old friends when I bade them good-bye. You cannot imagine how one gets attached to the poor brutes, when you travel with them by day and almost eat and sleep with them, when they have carried you over long and laborious trails, when they are your continual care and anxiety, as if of the family; and when from this long intimacy they have an affection for you almost human—it is not strange that we come to regard them not merely as beasts of burden, but as trusty companions and tried friends. There are two animals especially, a mule and a horse, which have been with us from the start, that I have ridden nearly five thousand miles, to which I feel more attached than I ever imagined I could be to any of the brute creation. We have them yet, and we may yet continue our companionship.

November 2 we footed it to Low Divide, or Altaville, about eighteen miles. The road was very crooked, running over high ridges and sometimes commanding grand views of the wide Pacific and of the surrounding rough landscape. The hills are covered with low bushes, and here and there in the canyons heavy timber, as we approach the sea.

Low Divide is a little town on a sharp ridge—a “low divide,” in truth, between higher hills. It is a regular mining town, of miners’ cabins, a few stores, saloons, and a “hotel.” At this last I stopped the entire week, and a filthier, dirtier, nastier, noisier place I have not struck in the state. The whole scene was truly Californian—everyone noisy. We found that the landlord had killed a pig that afternoon, and over sixty dollars had been lost or won in betting on its weight! You cannot differ with a Californian in the slightest matter without his backing his opinion with a bet.

I will digress and relate an incident that happened at Crescent City a few days later, which illustrates the thing perfectly. I was in the sitting room of the boarding house where I stopped, playing with two little girls on my lap—one of them a puny, slender little thing of three years, the daughter of the landlord. They had a tape measure of mine, playing with it. The father and mother were standing by as I said to the little thing, “What a big girl—half as tall as your papa.” This led to a laugh, when I said in earnest to him, “Certainly, she is half as tall as you are.” “Oh, no,” was the reply. “Certainly, she is,” I again remarked; “such little children are taller than they seem—she is half as tall as you.” “I will bet you fifty dollars on it,” was the quick response, and he slid his hand into his pocket and drew out gold to twice that amount. I carefully pulled out fifty dollars, his wife looking on and offering no comment. “Now,” says I, “I never bet—you see I have the money, but I will not stake it, for I take no man’s money in that way—but now let me show you how easy it is for you to lose, betting on a thing you have never given thought to before.” He still was willing to stake his money. I stood his little girl down, she measured 2 feet 11 1/2 inches; he, although a stout man, was but 5 feet 9 inches. He was astonished, of course, and then his wife lectured him on betting. Such is human nature.

Well, to go back to Low Divide. Copper ore occurs here, scattered over quite an extent of country. A great number of claims are taken up and much work is being done on them. Only one of the mines, out of over thirty, has paid expenses, and this has produced as yet scarcely over five hundred tons of ore, sold at perhaps $50,000. But all hope to get rich. I trudged over the hills by day and sat in the dirty barroom or saloon during the evenings, and watched men lose their earnings at poker.

King went to Crescent City, and, finding letters for him calling him back to San Francisco, he started immediately for Jacksonville, 120 miles, where he could take stage. He took the barometer and our beautiful Indian bows that we had carried all the way from Pit River. He got safely back with the barometer, but the bows were stolen from him in Marysville, after we had carried them some seven or eight hundred miles. It was too bad.


1. The Bighorn or Mountain Sheep (Ovis canadensis californiana). John Muir tells of these animals in a chapter, “The Wild Sheep,” in The Mountains of California, and a chapter, “Wild Wool,” in Steep Trails.

2. Now known as Mount McLoughlin, a name used as early as 1838. The name Pitt is a corruption of Pit, derived from Pit River, so called because of pits dug by the Indians for trapping game (Lewis A. McArthur, Oregon Geographic Names [Portland, 1928].

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