An Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco in the Summer of 1859

By Horace Greeley | Go to book overview
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IX.
THE AMERICAN DESERT.

STATION 18, P. P. EXPRESS CO., June 2.

THE clouds, which threatened rain at the station on Prairie-Dog Creek, whence I wrote two days ago, were dissipated by a violent gale, which threatened to overturn the heavy wagon in which my fellow-passengers and I were courting sleep--had it stood broadside to the wind, it must have gone over. It is customary, I learn, to stake down the wagons encamped on the open prairie; in the valleys of the creeks, where the company's stations are located, this precaution is deemed superfluous. But the winds which sweep the high prairies of this region are terrible; and the few trees that grow thinly along the creek-bottoms rarely venture to raise their heads above the adjacent bluffs, to which they owe their doubtful hold on existence.

For more than a hundred miles back, the soil has been steadily degenerating, until here, where we strike the Republican, which has been far to the north of us since we left it at Fort Riley, three hundred miles back, we seem to have reached the acme of barrenness and desolation. We left this morning, Station 17, on a little creek entitled Gouler, at least thirty miles back, and did not see a tree and but one bunch of low shrubs in a dry water-course throughout our dreary morning ride, till we came in sight of the Republican, which has a

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