Marvels of the New West—1887—by William M. Thayer



In no way can we exhibit the marvel of enterprise to such advantage as by a description of railways through the deepest cañons and over the highest mountains. The prediction, fifty years ago, that the time would come when pleasure-seekers would travel in Pullman cars, where then explorers died of hunger, would have been received with derisive laughter. Yet this strange experience has been realized.

We have already spoken of the Arkansas Cañon as a physical wonder; it remains to show how human enterprise has converted it into a public thoroughfare, marvellous both in its conception and execution.

It is not known that man or beast ever passed through this remarkable gorge until the year 1870. When the project of constructing a railway through it was first made public, it was received with doubt and ridicule. Engineers said, "The thing is impossible." After elaborate examination, however, and long, thoughtful research and study, an engineer, in whose dictionary the word "impossible" was never put, was found willing and anxious to undertake the work. Under his skilful management, the railway was built, and a new and scarcely dreamed of pleasure offered to the public.

It was necessary to begin the work of constructing the railway several hundred feet above the river, splitting the granite walls downward. Workmen were suspended from the edge of the cañon above by ropes, and lowered to the spot where operations must commence, as seen in the illustration. There they hung, midway between the opening above and the bed of the river, until a foothold was secured by drilling and splitting. The obstacles and perils attending such a remarkable enterprise cannot be overestimated. The engineer, with faith and courage enough to undertake a work of such magnitude, must be accorded a high place among the world's benefactors. But


all difficulties were overcome by patience and perseverance, and the marvellous work was accomplished without an accident. The ten miles of railway through this cañon cost $1,400,000 (one million four hundred thousand dollars), or one hundred and forty thousand dollars per mile.

The walls of the cañon two thousand feet high, approach nearest to each other at the "Royal Gorge," where they are not more than thirty feet apart. Here the passage is too narrow for both river and railway, so a bridge is suspended over the chasm by rods, over which the railway train passes on its way. The scene is totally unlike anything the traveller has witnessed before. It is awe-inspiring and even fearful. There were from sixty to seventy passengers on the train when the author passed through the cañon in an observation-car. Not a word was spoken. No merriment was noticeable. Silent, serious thoughtfulness marked every countenance. Several passengers unconsciously rose to their feet and uncovered their heads, as if in the immediate presence of the Author of all this grandeur. A woman directly in front of the writer bowed her head and wept. A score of others showed their honest sympathy with her by their irrepressible emotion, as unbidden tears bedimmed their vision.

The scene and the occasion of the first railway excursion through this cañon was graphically described by the Denver Tribune as follows:—
"The most stupendous achievement of railway engineering over Nature's efforts to obstruct the pathway of commerce, was triumphantly achieved on the 7th of May, 1879, by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company, which on that day made the passage of the Grand Cañon of the Arkansas, with a train of cars carrying an excursion party of ladies and gentlemen, numbering over two hundred persons. This rock-bound river pathway became known to Spanish missionaries as early as the year 1642. From that time it was not known that any animal life had ever passed through it successfully until the winter of 1870. The approach to the Cañon is gradual. The distant hills draw nearer, and the valley of the Arkansas becomes narrower and narrower, until the river is shut in closely on both sides by high mountains, sloping gently away and covered with verdure. Then the slope. of the mountains becomes more perpendicular, and the hills become higher, until suddenly the river is completely shut in by mountains with mighty tops. The roar and rattle of the train grows louder and echoes up and down. The train


is fairly in the cañon. It moves slowly. The mountain walls are of a dizzy height, and so close together that, looking ahead, they appear simply to form a crevice, a huge, awful, crooked crevice, through which the miserable little train is timidly crawling. The curves of the cañon are superb. They constitute the finishing touch to its grandeur, and fill the mind with a full appreciation of this great miracle of nature. But the Royal Gorge! Imagine two almost perfectly perpendicular walls rising to the height of two thousand feet, those walls presenting jagged and irregular masses of rock that on the railroad side hang over the train all creviced and ready to fall in thousands of tons. The road-bed is cut out of the solid rock, and masses of this bang over it, stretching out a hundred feet. One cannot look up to the top of this wall on account of those projecting, irregular bluffs, but the height to the top, even as measured by the eye, disturbs the faculties and brings on vertigo. The cooped-up Arkansas rushes madly by, a narrow thread, made still more so by the rocks thrown into it. There is not room to step from the train without pitching into the river. Not a word is uttered. The engineer whistles occasionally, and timid folks look for the rocks to fall. It is really a strain on the mind to take it in; and this can be only feebly done on a single trip. Two thousand feet above you are the tops of the mountain walls. You are imprisoned in a crack thirty feet wide, and are partially under one mountain wall. You can see on the opposite side the gradations of the verdure, rich below, impoverished above. And the curves become more awful as you look ahead or back.

"There was no sun in the Gorge, but it slanted down the opposite mountain wall as the party returned through the cañon, increasing the surpassing beauty of the scene."

Leaving the Arkansas Cañon, and traversing the upper Arkansas Valley, as lovely as it is narrow, the train begins to scale the heights of Marshall Pass. The serrated peaks of the Sangre de Cristo are in full view at the west, and the scene is indescribably grand. Two ponderous engines puff and tug upward with their train of human freight. Looking far away towards the summit, a narrow rim or line is seen. "That is the track over which we are to pass to the summit," said the conductor. Winding around the mountains, through the deep, wild ravines, ascending from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and ten feet to the mile, in one hour the train triumphantly gains the summit, ten thousand seven hundred and sixty feet above the sea. Such a panorama here opens to the view! The Sangre de


THE above cut shows the marvellous railroading over Marshall Pass. The Pass is entered almost imperceptibly from Poncha Pass, and the whole wonderful ascent might very readily be imagined as one and the same. The summit is almost eleven thousand feet above the sea, and the tortuous method by which the daring engineers of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad have achieved this summit can best he understood by studying this cut, which illustrates the alignment of the track.


Cristo Range looms up in the distance, wearing a crown of snow that glistens in the distance, while the great San Luis Park, larger than the State of Connecticut, stretches out at its base. Westward the mountain peaks are less towering, but the scene is no less inspiring.


Looking down into the Tomichi Valley, two thousand feet, perhaps, the railway track is seen doubling back and forth in its zigzag course to Gunnison City. The vision is unobstructed, and the traveller begins to comprehend what a joy it is to stand upon the "Continental Divide," and "survey creation round." How is it possible for the railroad train to reach the valley below in safety, turning sharp curves, rounding abrupt headlands, and gliding along the verge of awful precipices? But it does; and when the delighted passenger looks backward and upward from the valley to the cold, bleak, bewildering height from which he has descended, he wonders still more how it was done.

This route is embraced in what the managers of the Rio Grande Railway denominate "The Scenic Route"; and truly it is all of that. Any railway crossing the Rocky Mountains or the Sierra Nevadas must necessarily take a route that is "scenic." Grand and beautiful scenery exists in profusion everywhere. Rising from extended "plains" into mountainous regions, through cañons whose mighty walls on either side tower two thousand feet towards the sky, with here and there a pinnacle hundreds of feet higher, peaks of different shape and size piled one above another, cliff on cliff ascending to dizzy heights, rushing torrents far, far below the track, and silvery cascades leaping from dizzy summits, with here and there a park or lake stretching out for miles its fruitful acres or silver sheen, eight thousand feet above the sea,—such a route possesses enough of the grand, beautiful, and sublime to challenge the appellation, "scenic."

A description of a trip through Platte Cañon will still further exhibit the marvels of railroad enterprise in the New West.

Twenty miles from Denver the train entered the cañon upon a shelf so narrow as to suggest the thought that railroad builders were willing to accept the smallest favor from the contesting Platte torrent. Once within the cañon, the train began to ascend the steep grade, winding its serpentine way under the shadow of overhanging rocks and frowning cliffs, round and round, higher and higher, up, up, up, often rising two hundred feet to the mile, with castellated walls towering a thousand feet above, and here and there a mountain-peak shooting two or three thousand feet into the air, presenting a scene of grandeur and sublimity that baffles description. We were filled with surprise and wonder. Every curve disclosed new glories; every mile bore witness to the indomitable perseverance and tact of man.

The "tug of war" to the locomotives was on the home stretch


between Webster and Kenosha Divide, which is 10,139 feet above the sea. The ascent is steep and perilous, and the railway track doubles back and forth upon itself several times in order to scale the heights. It is two miles to the summit; but that point cannot be reached without winding about, going eight or ten miles to ascend two. At a point near Webster, the conductor requested the passengers to look down into the valley from whence they had come. The descent to the valley was almost perpendicular, and the distance from fifteen hundred to two thousand feet. Obeying the request, we looked down, and lo! there nestled in the valley the neat little village we had left some time before directly under us, the houses appearing no larger than hen-coops, and a horse and cart on the street resembling a child's toy horse and cart. A sense of danger came over us as we gazed for a moment and then turned away from a marvel that one does not care to view too long.

From Kenosha Divide the train descended into South Park, introducing the sight-seer to a spectacle for which he is wholly unprepared,—a park level as a house floor, containing two thousand two hundred square miles, nine thousand five hundred feet above the level of the sea, and completely walled with mountain peaks, covered with perpetual snow. The illustration furnishes the curve of the railway at the head of the park, with a view of the enormous plain and the tall snowy range.

Before the time of railroads, a line of stages passed along the northerly rim of the park, over Mosquito Pass, which is twelve thousand feet above the sea. This was the highest stage line in the world.


Some of the heaviest railroad work and most remarkable scenery of the New West are found between South Park and Leadville by the way of Breckinridge. An observer describes the scenic features of the route so vividly, that we quote him in full. "From Como, with the first revolution of the wheels, the climb for the crest between two oceans begins. Ahead are the hills, snow-crowned; behind, the Park where a hundred shades blend in a picture vast and rare. In the first gulch traversed, miners are washing gold. Towns and ranches dot the receding levels. Unexpected tints develop with every foot of progress. The feelings of the moment admit of no record. As timber line is approached there is something awful in the grandeur. The mountains tower lifeless and sombre. Even the trees are dead and standing gaunt and fire scarred. Far below a stream crooks itself along the valley. At Boreas, 11,496 feet above the sea, the summit is reached. From this point the view is sublime and full of warmth. The trees are dense and luxuriant. Their piney odor fills the summer air. Ten Mile range rises in the near distance,


ponderous and pure under its snow. You are looking down the valley of the Blue, by many considered the loveliest encompassed by the Rockies. Over it is a blue-gray mist like a veil, that parts at the touch of the sun. Mines in every direction place romance and reality


hand in hand. The Atlantic Slope fades from sight. An old Ute trail can just be discerned on the banks of the stream, lost now and again in the trees. Pacific Peak frowns down snowily, heedless that summer winds are playing about its base. It is full of silver and gold, and men are delving for it."

The illustration affords the reader a fine view of the railway in its upward course to the mountain summit, winding about among the peaks, which are marvellous in size and numbers, until the laboring locomotive halts like a conqueror upon the crest.

The writer quoted speaks of "timber line." "Timber line" is the altitude above which vegetation ceases. The altitude varies from 10,500 to 11,500 feet, and is too bleak and cold for tree or shrub to live. Barrenness and desolation, or perpetual snow, meet the eye above the altitude named. Our illustration shows very clearly what "timber line" is.

The "Alpine Tunnel" is reached through "Chalk Creek Cañon,"—a ride of wonderful interest. Some tourists have declared that this ride cannot be duplicated in the whole world; that neither writer nor painter can do justice to the attractions. From personal observation we affirm that some of the wildest scenery which we saw in the Rocky Mountains was seen here. In some localities it ceased to


be grand and became awful. The thought of penetrating such an "abyss of desolation" in a Pullman car would have seemed absurd but for the fact that ours was doing that very thing. A photographic view in this cañon, at an interesting point, will give a good idea of the wild, rough, and desolate appearance of the gorge.

We remember with peculiar interest a descent into a narrow valley, where, in order to ascend the mountains on the opposite side, the railway made a detour of several miles, skirting a lot of five or six acres or more in performing the feat. We drew a plan of the road in our note-book at the time; and subsequently found a pictorial representation of it (see following page).

At a point eight or ten miles from the Alpine Tunnel, a passenger said, pointing to the west, "See that black spot yonder! that is the tunnel." The "black spot" appeared to be about as large as a man's bat, and a mile away. All were surprised to be told that it was distant eight or ten miles.

"The tunnel is above timber-line,'' continued our informant, "too high up for anything to grow."

"What is the altitude?" we asked.

"Eleven thousand six hundred and twenty-three feet above the sea, the highest railway in the world, except one in the South American Andes."



The tunnel is one thousand seven hundred and seventy-three feet long, with approaches which add eight hundred feet more, and is six hundred feet beneath the Pass. It conducts the passenger from the Atlantic to the Pacific Slope in a few minutes.

Nearly two years were occupied in building this tunnel. Its twenty thousand lineal feet of California red-wood lining was brought up on pack-horses over trails which had known the touch of no hoof but the mountain sheep's, and where man himself had scarce dared to venture. Operations were carried on from both ends, and, despite the curvature, when the respective gangs first caught the flash of each other's lamps, they wore less than one inch out of the way as the engineer had mapped it for them. The great expense was only warranted by the greatness of the country, which is now fastened to the outer world by this link of stygian darkness."

The point in the tunnel where the train passes from the Atlantic to the Pacific Slope is at the centre; and the writer whom we have just quoted says: "The impetus tells the moment it is crossed, and the engines, before goaded to their work, have to be held in severe curb by the courageous drivers. Two drops of water, such as continually fall from the roof, alight but half an inch apart. Trembling a second in the balance, each starts with its fellows; and when they join finally the ocean, there is the span of a continent between them."

The reader may be interested, at this point, in the following about European tunnels. -At the present time the Alpines are pierced by three remarkably long tunnels, entering Italy from France, Switzerland, and Austrian Tyrol, respectively, and called according to the mountain chains that are traversed, the Mt. Cenis, St. Gothard, and Arlberg tunnels. Of these Mt. Cenis is seven miles and three-quarters in length. Its cost was $15,000,000 The St. Gothard tunnel is nine miles and a quarter in length, and cost $13,500,000, the diminution in expense being due principally to the more rapid progress of the work by improvements in the drilling-machines. The Arlberg tunnel is shorter than either Mt. Cenis and St. Gothard, being only six miles and a half. The last and most formidable rival will be the Simplon tunnel, by which the existing line from Geneva to Martigni and Brieg will be carried through the mountains to Dumo d'Ossola, and so on to Pallanza or Stresa on the Lago Maggiore. As this tunnel will be commenced at a much lower level than any of the others, it will necessarily be large, the rough estimate being twelve miles and a half and the estimated cost somewhere about $20,000,000."




Emerging from the tunnel upon the Pacific slope, the scene is indescribable. The train creeps cautiously around the Palisades, pausing a few moments for the passengers to take in a view which a trip around the world cannot furnish.

Here the Palisades rise perpendicularly several hundred feet above the track (narrow-gauge), which is hewn out of its side. More than a thousand feet below, the railway, over which the train will pass, is visible, resembling a narrow shelf in the side of the mountain. Two thousand feet and more below is Quartz Creek, running like a thread of silver through the valley. Poised upon this shelf, with unsurpassed grandeur above, around, and beneath, the Christian observer is filled with "wonder, love, and praise." The height is perilous, and the traveller finds himself clutching tightly the platform-rail as he looks down into the deep abyss at his feet; yet devoid of fear. The scene is so novel, so overpowering, and bewitching in its effects, that there is no place for fear. An observer said, what other observers can appreciate, "One forgets that an overturned coach would hurl him thousands of feet down into the abyss, and feels that if such a catastrophe were to happen while his eyes feasted on that glorious landscape, he would die happy."

"How many feet do you think it is down into the valley?" we inquired of a fellow-traveller, in whose face could be seen traces of alarm.

"I have no idea," be answered solemnly, adding, after a moment's hesitation, "we are not far from eternity,"—a remark that is true of us mortals at almost any time and anywhere; perhaps a little more significant and impressive up there clinging to the Palisades, nearly twelve thousand feet above the sea. Nevertheless, all things considered, it is true, doubtless, that a man is no nearer eternity when he emerges from the "Alpine Tunnel" than he is on the "Great Plains." There have been no accidents there; every precaution against accident has been provided without regard to expense, not the least of which is the instant stopping of the cars by automatic pressure in case of disaster. We do not deny that there is more danger in travelling by rail over mountains than there is over plains; but the additional novelty and pleasure offsets the peril. While I am writing, the news comes that the air-break of a freight train near Marshall Pass became useless, when the train dashed forward with constantly accelerating speed, until, going at the rate of fifty or sixty miles an hour, the locomotive leaped from the track down into the gorge hundreds of feet below,


carrying the twenty loaded cars with it,—a complete wreck of everything.

Mr. Crofutt relates a thrilling incident in Echo Cañon, illustrative of the foregoing:—
"Mr. Miles, or 'Paddy,' as he was familiarly called, was foreman to the Casement brothers, who laid the track of the Union Pacific Railroad. One morning, Paddy started down Echo Cañon with a long train of flat cars, sixteen in number, loaded with ties and iron rails for the road below Echo City, where were then, as now, the stations, switches, etc. The reader will remember that from the Divide to the mouth of Echo Cañon is a heavy grade, no level place on which cars would slack their speed.

"The train had proceeded but a few miles down the cañon, going at a lively rate, when the engineer discovered that the train had parted, and four loaded cars had been left behind. Where the train parted, the grade was easy, hence that portion attached to the locomotive bad gained about half a mile on the stray cars. But when discovered they were on heavy grade and coming down on the train with lightning speed. What was to be done? The leading train could not stop to pick them up, for at the rate of speed at which they were


approaching, a collision would shiver both trains, destroying them and the lives of those on board.

"There were two men—Dutchmen—on the loose cars, who might put on the brakes and stop the runaway. The whistle was sounded, but they heard it not; they were fast asleep behind the pile of ties. On came the cars, fairly bounding from the track in their unguided speed, and away shot the locomotive and train. Away they flew, on, around curves and over bridges, past rocky points and bold headlands; on with the speed of the wind, but no faster than came the cars behind him.

"'Let on the steam!' cried Paddy; and with the throttle chock open, with wild, terrible screams of the whistle, the locomotive plunged through the gorge, the mighty rocks sending back the screams in a thousand ringing echoes.

"'Off with the ties!' shouted Paddy once more, as the whistle shouted its warning to the station men ahead to keep the track straight and free, for there was no time to pause—that terrible train was close on to them, and if they collided, the cañon would have a fearful item added to its history. On went the train past the sidetracks, the almost frantic men throwing off the ties, in hopes that some of them would remain on the track, throw off the runaways, and thus save the forward train. Down the gorge they plunged, the terror keeping close by them, leaping along,—almost flying, said one, who told us the tale, -while the locomotive strained every iron nerve to gain on its dreaded follower. Again the wild scream of the locomotive, of 'switches open,' rung out on the air, and was heard and understood in Echo City. The trouble was surmised, not known, but the switches were ready; and if the leading train had but the distance, it could pass on, and the following cars be switched off the track and allowed to spend their force against the mountain side. On shot the locomotive, like an arrow from the bow, the men throwing over the ties until the train was well-nigh unloaded, when just as they were close to the curve by which the train arrives at the station, they saw the dreaded train strike a tie, or something equally of service, and with a desperate plunge rush down the embankment into the little valley and creek below. 'Down brakes,' screamed the engine, and in a moment more the cars entered Echo City, and were quietly waiting on the side-track for further developments. The excited crowd, alarmed by the repeated whistling, was soon informed of the cause of these screams, and immediately went up the track to the scene of the disaster to bring in the dead bodies. When they arrived,


they found the poor unfortunates sitting on the bank unharmed, having just woke up. The first they knew of the trouble was when they were pitched away from the broken cars on the soft greensward. The debris of car frames, wheels, and ties, gave them the first intimation they bad received that something was the matter."

Yes, there is danger, but there is also delight; and the fascination of the latter more than counterbalances the reality of the former.

The descent from the Palisades is made by the "Hair-Pin Curve," so named from the resemblance which the curve in the road bears to a hairpin.

The array of mountains, and the splendors of the scene on every hand, do not diminish on leaving the Palisades. Grand beyond comparison rises the Uncompahgre, 14,235 feet above the sea, a monarch among the mountain peaks, leaning in royal dignity against the horizon, and looking down from his pinnacle of fame upon the lesser peaks around him.







Ere this the reader has inquired within himself, why railroads in the Rocky Mountains are not blockaded with snow through the winter. At the East, where the snow-fall is far less than it is among the mountains of the West, railroads are frequently blocked with snow for several days. And yet, it is claimed that, on the whole, trains on the mountain-roads are not so frequently delayed by snow as trains are in the East. It was not so, however, in the infancy of these railways, as the long and expensive blockade of February and March, 1869, on the Union Pacific, proves. When the railroad across the continent was built, it was known that snow-sheds or galleries, would be necessary over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where the snow is often from sixteen to twenty feet deep. But such a safeguard against heavy snows was not thought to be necessary in the Rockies, until experience exposed the mistake. Then snow-fences were resorted to for protection, as in the East, but in many localities they proved useless. Hence, snow-sheds are the chief reliance now. The above cut gives a fine view of a curve in the Central Pacific Railway, on the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with the snow-sheds.

On one section of this railway there are twenty-eight miles of continuous snow-sheds, including several tunnels from one to sixteen hundred feet in length. If all the snow-sheds. built by the Union .and Central Pacific were placed in line, they would extend nearly a 'hundred miles, erected at a cost of one million dollars. They are built in the most substantial manner, stone and the heaviest timber being used. The following cut shows the interior of a snow-shed.

"Snow-slides" are more perilous than snow-storms. Hence



sheds on the mountain sides are built so as to conduct the avalanche over the roof into the valley below - so that while the passenger train glides safely through the artificial gallery, a mighty avalanche of snow may be tumbling over it, and bury, forty feet deep, the hamlet or village in the valley. If a snow-shed be necessary on a comparatively level section, it is built with a sharp roof, like any other building designed to support a heavy weight of snow.


A good idea of the magnitude of a snow-slide may be derived from the fact that, in the winter of 1883-84, a slide completely buried a mining town in one of the cañons of the Rocky Mountains already described, destroying most of the buildings. It is claimed that a snow-slide in the Animas Cañon, two years ago, was a half-mile in length, and when it landed in the deep gorge below, the snow was forty feet deep. A still more disastrous slide, at the Virginius mine, near Ouray, was reported by a Colorado paper as follows:—
"When the avalanche descended upon the boarding-house at four o'clock, Saturday, there were eleven men in it, some asleep in their bunks and others waiting to go -on a night shift; while Armstrong and Shieldler were in the kitchen. Boyle escaped through an opening and ran for assistance, and all the men at the mines were speedily engaged in tunnelling the snow to save the buried men.

"The party from Ouray, which started out Saturday, reached the post-office that night, having bad to abandon their horses and use snow-shoes. Reaching the Monongahela mine, they found the Virginius workmen there with four corpses. Sleds were made for the dead bodies, and the parties started yesterday to return to Ouray, David Reed in front breaking the trail just as they reached Cumberland basin, another snow-slide came down on David Reed, and in a second had carried him into the air and over a precipice before the


eyes of the horror-stricken men. Following in another instant, a second snow-slide descended upon the whole party, carrying away the thirteen men.

"The sleds they were dragging and the corpses of the men went nearly two thousand feet down the mountain with the slide, four of them being hurled over a precipice five hundred feet high. Superintendent Reed was carried to the edge of a precipice, where a tree caught and held him. The first man to escape from the slide was Doyle, who arose bruised and dazed, and looking around, spied hands and feet protruding from the snow all round. He went to work to help the buried, each man as fast as rescued assisting to save the others till all were rescued. The bodies of the four men killed at Virginius lie under twenty feet of snow, and probably will remain there until spring."

The Central Pacific Railway has a mammoth snow-plough which rests upon two four-wheeled trucks. It is twenty-eight feet long, ten and a half feet wide, thirteen and a quarter high, and weighs FORTY-ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND SIXTY POUNDS! It was once driven by ten locomotives into a snow-bank on the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the rate of sixty miles an hour.

In this connection the following statement by the London Times will be read with interest:—
"A statistical memoir lately issued by the Italian government enables us to form some idea of the great destruction caused annually by avalanches in the Alpine districts of Italy and the Tyrol. In the single district of Val di Susa two avalanches fell on Jan. 18; one, at Devies, between Exilles and Salbertand, was estimated at about sixty metres long and six deep, and slid down the slope a distance of about a kilometre. Its volume is supposed to have been three hundred and sixty thousand cubic metres, and the weight of snow composing it was forty-five thousand tons. It destroyed sixteen houses and killed forty-three persons. The second avalanche of Jan. 18 fell near Venaus, was one hundred and fifty metres long, its volume was about three million cubic metres, and it bore nearly a quarter of a million tons of snow: But although the slide extended to nearly four kilometres, only twenty-four houses were wrecked by it and six persons killed. A third avalanche, which fell at Maflotto, and was computed to contain little more than one thousand six hundred tons' weight of snow, was much more destructive, killing seventeen persons and destroying eighteen homes,"



At eight different points the Denver & Rio Grande Railway has crossed the Rocky Mountains, instead of piercing them with long and dismal tunnels. The altitude attained in the passage of Veta


Pass is not so great as that of Alpine or Marshall passes, but the scenery is not less remarkable. The ascent begins along the base of La Veta Mountain, up a defile, at the head of which stands Dump Mountain, defiant and frowning. The railway approaches the mountain by indirection," and doubles so sharply upon itself that the curve has become famous as the "Mule Shoe Curve."

From this point the ascent is very difficult, the grade being two hundred and seventeen feet to the mile. The road-bed is little more than a groove cut in the sides of the mountain, winding hither and thither over the Sangre de Christo Range, which it crosses at Veta Pass at an altitude of nine thousand three hundred and thirty-nine feet. A bowlder started from this point goes thundering down the precipitous walls into the deep, terrible gorge below, a mile away.

A tourist christened the railway at this interesting point "RAILROAD ABOVE THE CLOUDS,'' because, as a matter of fact, tempests rage, and the artillery of heaven thunders and lightens below the track.

Passengers enjoy a sublime view from the train at Veta Pass. Looking eastward, the sky shuts down upon the distant plains, while, at the west, the majestic form of Sierra Blanca, the highest mountain




peak in this country, rises grandly fourteen thousand four hundred and sixty-four feet. To the south, the symmetrical "Spanish Peaks" stand forth so lovely and yet grand in their appearance as to seem phantom-like.

The peaks are respectively twelve thousand seven hundred and twenty and thirteen thousand six hundred and twenty feet high, and are known also as "The Twin Sisters," their Indian name being Wahatoga, which means "breast." These two mountains stand out so boldly as to seem almost separated from the range to which they belong. In a clear day they have been, seen from Denver, two hundred miles.

From Veta Pass the train descends, by a zig-zag course, into San Luis Park—a level tract of land measuring eight thousand square miles, and containing over five million acres, larger than the whole State of Massachusetts. The change from mountain to prairie scenery contributes largely to the novelty and pleasure of the trip. The entrance to San Luis Park is a beautiful picture in itself. Fort Garland is located there for the defence of settlers against the Indians. The buildings are all adobe, that is, built of sun-burnt brick, making a neat, attractive little village. The fort will soon be abandoned, no doubt, as the danger from Indian depredations has ceased to exist.

It is twenty miles and more from Antonito to the summit of the beautiful mesa which the railway traverses. "The ride up this mesa, for over twenty miles, is one of the most delightful imaginable. The railway mounts the heights by an easy grade, winding in labyrinthine curves among grassy knolls and parks of dark green


pines, and piñons, allowing the passengers to measure the elevation by the plains below, and affording a hundred different views of Sierra Blanca, the Sangre de Christo range, and the smooth outlines of the Antonio Mountains." At one place, the railway doubles upon itself twice, making three parallel tracks in the distance of a few rods, and, from its shape, as represented in the cut, is called "The Whiplash."

A waggish traveller, dilating upon the great pleasure to be derived from a ride over this mesa in a Pullman car, says that it is the best illustration he has found of being "carried to the skies on flowery beds of case."

In this part of Colorado the "Garden of the Gods" is repeated in numerous monumental rocks which appear among the pines, rising in fantastic columns, some of them nearly as high as the trees. The artist has produced an excellent representation of one of the tallest.

One of the most remarkable curves of this railway occurs in one of the wildest localities known. In the valley beneath the road are


numerous tall pine and hemlock trees, with many monumental rocks rising high and dismal among them, as if a cemetery for departed gods had been laid out there, and the silence of the dead had been unbroken until the daring enterprise of civilization penetrated the strange solitude. It is known as "Phantom Curve." With the monument-shaped rocks on one side, and the castellated cliffs, five or six hundred feet high, on the other, the scene is strangely wild and mysterious.












At one point on "Phantom Curve" the first view of Toltec Tunnel is obtained—so far away that it appears only as a small black spot on the face of the cliffs.

The reader can but partially imagine the grandeur of the scenery viewed from the train at the opening of the tunnel, which is cut six hundred feet through solid rock. A writer says of it: "Here the beauty and the grandeur of the scenery are beyond description. All the features of the landscape are on a Titanic scale. The track over which the train has just passed can be seen circling the brow of the mountain for miles,—a tiny, yellowish thread. Far beyond the distant heights that shut in the valley rises the round top of San Antonio Mountain, while across the valley the opposite mountains rise higher and higher in vast, receding, wooded slopes. The narrow vale, with its silvery stream and park-like groves of pine and aspen, -among which it would be delightful to camp during the long days of summer,—recalls the happy valley of the Abyssinian princes. Nor is color wanting to complete the charm of the picture. The dark hue of the pines, the light green and white of the shivering aspen, and the red and gray that alternate in the cliffs, add their subtle charms to the sublime panorama. When the train approaches the end of the wall, the passengers look almost straight down to where the stream emerges in foaming cascades from the jaws of Toltec Gorge. Down! down! How little and how much the word may mean! Gazing from some lofty church-spire, or from the top of one of the towers of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge, more than two hundred feet high, who does not grow faint and pale, and feel his heart throbbing fiercely in his breast? But do you call that depth?



Double that distance downward from the railway track at Toltec Gorge, and you have hardly begun the descent. The stone you toss from your hand drops far below, and you hear it strike again and again, hundreds added to hundreds of feet distant, and yet silence does not signify that it has reached the bottom; it is simply out of hearing. Double the distance again, so far that the strongest voice can scarcely make itself heard, and when that terrible gulf is passed you might still look down upon the tallest steeple in America; for the railway track at the brink of the chasm of Toltec Gorge is over eleven hundred feet above Los Pinos Creek. But in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, the scene is changed. One parting glance at the far-stretching valley and its mountain barriers, one shuddering, giddy look far down the precipice among the jagged rocks, and then all is hid from view in the darkness of the tunnel."

The train emerges from the tunnel on the west side of the mountain, on the very brink of a frightful precipice, fifteen hundred feet deep, while the cliffs opposite rise over two thousand one hundred feet.

The writer just quoted says: "At the most critical point, where the downward view takes in the deepest depths of the gorge, lined with crags and splintered rocks, and bowlders, as large as, churches fallen from the cliffs above, amid which the stream dashes downward


in snow-white cataracts, the train runs upon a solid bridge of trestlework, set in the rock, as if it were a balcony from which to obtain the finest possible view of this most wonderful scene."

The cut shows the trestle-work quite plainly, and gives a good idea of the descent on the west side of the mountain. It will be noticed that the "Toltec Gorge" is entered at the top, while the "Grand Cañon of the Arkansas" is entered at the bottom. In the latter, the grandeur is all above the traveller; in the former, it is all below him.

Just west of Toltec Gorge, near the track, is a monument, erected to the memory of the martyred President Garfield, bearing the following inscription:—

In Memoriam


President of the United States. Died September 19, 1881.


Erected by Members of the National Association of General Passenger and Ticket Agents,
who held Memorial Burial Services on this spot,

SEPTEMBER 26, 1881.


September 26 was the day on which President Garfield was buried at Cleveland, Ohio and this excursion party stopped here for services, and there conceived the idea of erecting a monument upon the spot.

Between Toltec Gorge and Durango the scenery is remarkably diversified. The beautiful and sublime mingle as colors in a fine painting. Where the railway rounds "White Rock Point," the view is scarcely less impressive than that at the entrance of Toltec Gorge.

In this locality we had the first glimpse of "Dogtown," a city of prairie-dogs. Who has not heard of them! And yet, in Kansas, Nebraska, and New Mexico, we caught a glimpse of only here and there one of these historic creatures. But in southwestern Colorado



we came upon the famous town,—a locality that swarmed with these lively and somewhat eccentric inhabitants.

The full-grown prairie-dog is about the size of a gray squirrel, though a multitude of smaller ones inhabit the town, which resembles a potato-field -the hills minus the potato-tops. He is a timid, wild little creature, and scampers to his home on the approach of humans, with a shrill, sharp bark, resembling that of a small dog. Dogtown is interesting because it is novel. It speaks well for this race of diminutive dogs that they dwell together in cities like men. Nor is it at all discreditable to them that they run for dear life on the approach ,of a locomotive; so that, as another well says, "the town appears alive with projecting noses and disappearing tails." Here and there some, more experienced and bolder than the rest,—perhaps the officials of the city,—sit upon their holes, elevated like potato-hills, and bark defiantly. Dogtown is certainly one of the marvels of the West.

A beaver town is, in some respects, more interesting than a prairie-dog town. Beavers colonize and establish homes with singular ingenuity and perseverance. Forty years ago, when trapping in the Rocky Mountains was in its prime, the beaver population was immense. They were able to dam large rivers, and even to turn the


course of rivers. Groves of trees they gnaw down and cut up into logs of suitable length for building dams. "They work like beavers" is a phrase suggested by the industry and persistent labors of this little animal. Trappers and tourists frequently discover their dams now, long since built and deserted. William A. Baillie-Grohman, the English author, who has traversed the Rockies from base to top, describes a scene in the Wind River Mountains. "The pools had evidently once been one single lake; but the beaver, by ingenious dikes, had divided it into six or seven smaller sheets of water, lying tier-like, one slightly raised over the other. The nearest to the spring, the water was of course the highest, about eight or ten feet being the difference between its water level and that of the lowest miniature cascades and channel-like timber floats, connecting the different lakelets. These channels for timber are very ingeniously laid-out contrivances, from three to five feet in width, and from two to four feet in depth; they are intended for floating larger pieces of



wood from place to place, especially where the previously constructed dikes render the transportation of trunks a difficult or impossible job for the little workers."

"Beavers have left far more lasting and useful monuments of their laborious activity on the surface of the country than the aboriginal inhabitants. Whole valleys are fertilized by them, the process being much quicker than one might suppose. Tersely rendered it is as follows: Given a stream traversing a small valley with rocky ground on which grow only occasional cottonwoods; a colony of beaver on taking possession of it will soon make it into meadow land. The grove of trees farthest down the stream is first tackled. When autumn comes, few of them are left to rear their heads. They have been gnawed down, their trunks cut into logs, which form the foundation of an amazingly strong and massive dam stretched across the stream where it is narrowest, forming on the upper side a profound





pool as deep as the dam is high. If the supply of wood lasts, consecutive dams will be built up stream, from thirty to a hundred yards apart, so that finally, in the course of twenty or thirty years, there will be no running water left. I have passed many such streams, when for miles you will pass beaver dam upon beaver dam." He speaks of beaver dams "forty and fifty yards in length, seven feet high, and four feet in breadth at the base,—massive structures wonderfully planned and built."

Animas Cañon is picturesque and remarkably diversified with cliffs, forest, and cascades. The cut gives a view of the cañon where the railway enters it, with a beautiful waterfall opposite. The railway enters the cañon midway between the valley and summit of the mountain, thereby differing from the Arkansas and Toltec cañons, the railway entering the former at the bottom, and the latter at the top. Some of the most difficult railway engineering is seen in this cañon, which is entered sixteen miles from Durango, and extends nearly thirty miles. The track is hewn out of the rocky sides of the mountain, winding around jagged cliffs, hundreds of feet above the valley below, and hundreds from the summit above. Here the grandeur is both above and beneath the traveller.

As the train was crawling very cautiously along this narrow shelf in the mountain, where the descent was so precipitous that passengers bad to lean forward from the windows to see the edge of the track beneath the cars, every one maintaining a serious silence which seemed to result from a just appreciation of "the risky business," we said to a member of the British Parliament, who was a passenger, "Any remarks to offer?" Without relaxing the serious features of his face in the least, he replied, "None whatever." This gentleman informed me afterwards, that he had seen the greatest railroad engineering in Europe, and travelled by rail through the wildest and grandest mountain gorges, but nowhere had beheld more of the marvellous in art and nature than he saw in Animas Cañon For some distance this railway cost one hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars a mile.

The grandest view of the mountains in Animas Cañon is where the "Needles" shoot upwards towards the sky, as strikingly appears in the cut. It is not unlike similar scenes in the Rocky Mountains, except that the figure is clear-cut and peculiar.

Black Hawk and Central—two mining towns in Clear Creek Cañon—are only one mile apart; indeed, the two towns merge into each other. The climb of a single mile to Central is accomplished


by a "switch-back," making four miles of track necessary. A ride over it is so novel that it becomes sensational. "At one place, streets are crossed above the level of the house-tops, and at another, after circling the mountain sides for two miles, the train makes its appearance
















hugging the mountain side hundreds of feet above, and almost directly over the town. One can almost look down into the fiery chimneys of the great smelters, while streets rise above, and seemingly bottomless shafts and excavations yawn beneath in this thrilling ride among the gold mines." A good idea of the zigzags, curves, and remarkable ascent of the railway between the two towns in question may be derived from the illustration.

The editor of The New West wrote a very graphic description of the Loop above Georgetown, which we copy:—


"Formerly those who had journeyed this far were content, and never dreamed that anything could excel what they had seen. If the unaided imagination were to conjure up something more noteworthy, it would likely be disbelieved by the sober judgment. But in reality Georgetown is passed before an inkling of the real glories of the trip is discovered. This part must be seen. The mind may understand readily, a train winding through a chasm. It is less easy to understand how it begins to rise, rise, rise along the side till finally you look down upon a town in miniature. This is the way the train proceeds. Through the suburbs of Georgetown, it worms its way up a steep grade, curved and blasted through the rock. It crosses the road leading to Green Lake, which every tourist must traverse before leaving Colorado, and skirts the side of mountains which lose their crests in snow. In the valley flows the little stream of Clear Creek. Past Devil's Gate and Bridal Veil Falls, curves and climbs the engine. Looking directly above you, you perceive a railroad track on a high iron bridge crossing the one you are following almost at right angles, but in the form of a crescent. You wonder what road that is above, and how it got there. For a little way the track is comparatively straight, then it veers to the right, crosses the creek and starts down the valley, but still up grade. For perhaps a quarter of a mile this continues. Then the creek is crossed again on a high iron bridge. Looking directly down you perceive a track below you. You wonder what track it is, and how it got there. Look again. It is your own track. You are on the bridge up to which you were looking a moment ago. You have ridden over an immense loop, one of four in existence. There is one on the Southern Pacific, one in Switzerland, and one in the Andes of South America. But this one


is more complex than any of the others, the strangest feat the most skilful engineer ever accomplished.

"The wonderful bridge is three hundred feet long and eighty-six feet high. From it Georgetown may be seen one way, nestled in its mountains, and the other way there is a confusion of tracks. It is a remarkable climb from the bridge over a fill seventy-six feet high on too sharp a curve to admit of a bridge. There comes near being a duplication of the loop. From here Georgetown is still in sight beyond the three parallel tracks necessitated by the loop. Looking down from the final curve shown in the cut, it is easy to perceive that the display is a puzzle. There is a wealth of track, but it dodges hither and thither, no portion seemingly having any special relation to its neighbor. Occasionally the entire trackage comes in range at once. Then Silver Plume is reached, and the return trip begins.

"The distance from Georgetown to Silver Plume, in an air-line,


is a little over a mile; by wagon road, two miles; by rail, four and a half miles. It is easily perceived that the extra distance is the only method of conquering the grade. Iron is not laid for pastime in the Rocky Mountains. The cost of this bit of eccentricity in railroading was two hundred thousand dollars. The cost of building clear to Bakerville, eight and a half miles, from Georgetown was four hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars. What the ultimate destiny of the road may be is a question. If extended to Leadville, it would shorten the distance between that place and Denver to one hundred and twelve miles. By the South Park, now far the shortest line, it is one hundred and fifty. But whatever it may be, and may do, it has certainly given to the tourist opportunity never before offered to inspect the wonders of nature and mechanical science."

We described the "switch-back," by which the cars are able to ascend from Black Hawk to Central. On a grander scale, the same device carried the train, on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, over the Raton Mountains—a spur of the Rocky Mountains—into New Mexico.

It is fifteen miles from Trinidad to the summit of the pass, and an average rise of one hundred and twenty-one feet to the mile is required. If this rise were equally distributed, it would not be excessive; but it is not. In some places the railway must ascend nearly two hundred feet to the mile; and, on the home-stretch, the rise is over three hundred feet to the mile, and at first was accomplished by a switch-back. "By it the cars left what is now the direct line, and were carried over a steep incline track, running diagonally up the hill; thence, reversing their direction, they shot up another incline; then reversing again, they climbed to the summit, thus zigzagging up the steep they could not directly scale. Even by this indirect route, the enormous grade of 316.8 feet per mile was attained." On the New Mexico side, the railway descended, in like manner, to a point where a tunnel, two thousand and eleven feet long, has been excavated, thus superseding the use of the switch-back, and shortening the line by several miles. The cut opposite furnishes a correct view of the railroad over the mountain.

There is another very remarkable loop in the Tehachapi Pass, California. The next illustration shows the course of the railway to the summit of the pass, together with the loop. Within twenty-five miles, the train rises nearly three thousand feet,—the altitude at the pass being three thousand nine hundred and sixty-four feet,—passing through SEVENTEEN tunnels, the aggregate length of which is 7,683.9 feet. The tourist is well paid by this wonder for his longest trip.


The loop is three thousand seven hundred and ninety-five feet in length, the upper track being severity-eight feet higher than the lower track. The engineering skill displayed in the construction of this road will amply reward the tourist for his journey across the continent to see it. The scenery along the route is indescribably grand. Sometimes the train poises upon a dizzy height, from which the traveller looks down into frightful chasms that make him shudder. The loop is three hundred and forty miles from San Francisco.

After passing through the ninth tunnel, the track makes a graceful curve around the loop, and crosses it, at a distance above, as represented by the following cut. Let the reader take in, if possible, the engineering feat which the illustration correctly represents. There is the ninth tunnel, and the railroad train crossing both tunnel and loop far above it. Surely, here is a marvel of American enterprise!

In descending the Sierra Nevada Mountains, from Summit to Colfax, the Union Pacific train winds around many precipitous cliffs, affording the traveller a favorable opportunity to look down into many


frightful chasms. The most remarkable of these cliffs is represented by the cut (p. 320) called "Cape Horn." There is the train rounding it, at a height well calculated to excite alarm,—the last place a railway train would have been placed, even in the dreams of an enthusiast, twenty years ago. Some travellers claim that the grandest and most exciting railway ride in the whole world is this from Summit to Colfax. No language can describe the scenery. Timid souls shrink and tremble, possibly, whirling around perilous curves, and rushing forward on the edge of awful precipices. But the experience pays.

The memory of the ride will be reckoned as an income during the remainder of life.

Marvellous railway engineering, on the Sierra Nevada range, is seen in the American River Cañon, as represented by the cut on p. 321.

The grade of this road for seven miles is six hundred feet to the mile—too steep, of course, to be operated by steam; so it was built to be operated by mules. Some of its curves are thirty degrees. The whole of its work is the triumph of enterprise over stupendous obstacles.


The Calumet Branch Railway of the Leadville division of the Rio Grande is a marvellous affair, and the reader will be interested in the following description of it, by one who is perfectly familiar with minutest details. He says:—
"Nobody has ever well described the wonderful little feeder of the Leadville division which modestly leaves the main line in Brown's Cañon and ascends the mountain gulches to the east with the steepest














grades and the heaviest curves in the world that are overcome with the ordinary drive-wheel locomotive. Afar up in this range of mountains, seven miles away, and nearly three thousand feet higher than the bed of the cañon, is the famous Calumet mine, from which is extracted the hematite iron ore that keeps in blast the furnaces of the Bessemer works at Pueblo. Every morning of the year a ponderous locomotive and a small train of cars toils up this steep, and every afternoon they make the perilous descent to the valley, loaded with iron, with the steam brakes on the cars, the water pressure on the locomotive drivers, and a man standing at the brake-wheel of each car.

This is the most wonderful piece of railroading in the universe. The maximum grade is four hundred and six feet to a mile, or nearly eight per cent, and the maximum curvature, twenty-five degrees. The terminal of the branch is half a mile higher than the commencement. Imagine, then, the difficulty in ascending with empty cars, and the danger of descending with loaded ones. Still, strange though


it may seem, a locomotive cannot make the descent unless at least five cars are attached. The latter are essential to provide the resisting power for the steam brakes. The trip up is snalish; the return is rapid in spite of the steam pressure which cuts the car-wheels into sparks that fly out in a constant stream from the brakes, in spite of the reverse action, in spite of the lavish use of the sand-pipes, and in spite of the water brake on the locomotive drive-wheels.

"Some few years ago, when the operation of the line was commenced, runaway accidents were of almost daily occurrence. The seven miles were within a brief period strewn with the wrecks of cars and locomotives and iron ore. The most discouraging results attended the persistent efforts to make the line serve the purpose for which it was constructed. Day after day control over the descending train would be lost; some defect would interfere with the working of the steam brake; and even with the brake in successful operation, the train would take a crazy notion and go flying down the mountain sides, along the brinks of fearful precipices, through the rock-bound gullies, and around the acute curves like a bolt of lightning. The train hands would leap for life, and the locomotive and cars would be dashed into fragments. In all these accidents, however, nobody was hurt. Thousands and thousands of dollars' worth of rolling stock is said to have been destroyed before a successful system of operation was established. Only very few of the higher officials of the Rio Grande realize how terrible was the experience of these rides, and it is told of two of them who once summed up sufficient curiosity and courage to make the journey that they were so frightened that they hung on to the steps of the caboose, expecting every moment to have to leap for life.

"Finally, extremely heavy locomotives were built, and a force of exceptionally brave trainmen were secured. The latter were instructed to cling to their post at every hazard, and to never flinch in the moment of danger. Not a serious accident has been recorded since. Starting from the mine, every brake is manned, so that in case the steam should fail, the train could be checked. While there have been several runaways, in two years there has not been a wreck. The sight of one of these trains descending is one of thrilling- interest, the sparks from the car-wheels cutting a pathway of light down the mountains, which can best be described as having the appearance of a molten stream of fire rolling down to the river-bed of the cañon.

"In Switzerland there are grades as steep as these of the Calumet


Branch, but they are equipped for operation with the cable and cogwheels."

The leading railway companies in the New West support hospitals for their employees. The cut below represents the Central Pacific Railroad Hospital at Sacramento. It is a fine stone building, occupying an open square, and was erected at an expense of sixty thousand dollars. Here the sick or injured employee finds a pleasant home, with the best of care, until he is restored, and is able to return to work. The physician who has this hospital in charge stands at the head of his profession in Sacramento, and he is provided with the best of nurses, and other facilities to make a first-class hospital. A monthly assessment of fifty cents each, from officers and men, beginning with the president of the company, pays the current expenses of the institution. This wise provision for the sick and suffering is very popular with the men and their families. To them it is a pledge of help in the time of need.

It is common, also, for the railroad companies of the New West to provide reading-rooms for their employees. We have been furnished with the following account of what the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Railroad has done in this line:—

"The Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Railroad Company has


established a rather extensive system of reading-rooms for the benefit of their employees throughout Kansas and New Mexico. The rooms are comfortably furnished, heated, lighted, and kept neat and clean by the company. The company provides all the better periodicals of the day, games, and mechanical reference books. It, however, depends upon voluntary contributions of the citizens where these rooms are located to supply a library. There are fifteen of them located at the various division points. At Argentine, New Mexico, quite a number of handsome volumes have been generously donated by private citizens. At Emporia, Kan., the citizens have come forward promptly, and a New York gentleman has donated one hundred volumes to that reading-room. Topeka also has one. At Nickerson, Kan,, the people have responded very generously, as also at Dodge City and Raton, Kan., while at Las Vegas a very fine collection of books has been presented by the citizens. At San Marcial a collection of about two hundred volumes of the best standard literature has been presented by the Hon. E. W. Kinsley, of Boston."

Railroading in the New West makes mammoth bridges a necessity. The bridge over the Missouri River, at Omaha, is a great work, both in conception and execution. It is one mile in length including its approaches. It is "Post's Pattern." "The hollow iron columns are twenty-two in number, two forming a pier. These columns are made of cast iron, one and three-fourths of an inch in thickness, eight and a half feet in diameter, ten feet long, and weigh eight tons each. They are bolted together air-tight, and sunk to the bed-rock of the river, in one case, eighty-two feet below low water. After these columns are seated on the rock foundation, they are filled up twenty feet with stone concrete, and from the concrete to the bridge seat they are filled with regular masonry. From high-water mark to the bridge seat these columns measure fifty feet. The eleven spans are two hundred and fifty feet in length, making the iron part between abutments, two thousand seven hundred and fifty feet. These columns were cast in Chicago, and delivered in the shape of enormous rings, ten feet in length. When they were being placed in position, the workmen would take two or more rings, join them together, place the column where it was to be sunk, cover the top with an air-lock, then force the water from the column by pneumatic pressure, ranging from ten to thirty-five pounds per square inch. The workmen descend the columns by means of rope ladders, and fill. sand-buckets, which are hoisted through the air-lock by a pony-engine. The sand is then excavated about two feet below the bottom


of the column, the men come out through the air-lock, a leverage, from one hundred to three hundred tons, is applied, the pneumatic pressure is removed, and the column sinks, from three inches to two and one-half feet—in one instance, the column steadily sank down seventeen feet. Whenever the column sinks, the sand fills in from ten to thirty feet—in one instance, forty feet. This has to be excavated before another sinking of a few inches can take place, making altogether a slow and tedious process."


Congress authorized the building of this bridge, July 25, 1866, but little was done upon it until March, 1868. Then work commenced in earnest, but was discontinued for some reason, after sixteen months. Again, in April, 1870, the American Bridge Company of Chicago took up the work; but it was not carried to final consummation until Congress authorized the Union Pacific Railroad, Feb. 24, 1871, to complete it, and issue bonds to the amount of $2,500,000.

The Marent Gulch is in the Cariacan Defile, on the Northern Pacific Railway, not far from the Flathead Reservation. The stream flowing through it is small, but the gulch is deep and dismal. The bridge over it, represented by the cut on page 325, is one of the highest in the United States. It is two hundred and twenty-six feet high and eight hundred and sixty long. It is a Howe truss resting on eight towers.

Near by this structure is another large bridge—the O'Keefe bridge—one hundred and twelve feet high and one thousand feet long.

The Northern Pacific Railway passes through Clark's Fork, where not even a wagon-road existed before, nothing but a perilous bridle-path travelled by Indians, gold-seekers, and fur-traders. Pack-animals could not travel over twelve or fifteen miles a day on this trail.

Clark's Fork is spanned by three mammoth bridges. The first is a five-span Howe truss, eight hundred feet long, with trestle approach of six hundred feet—fourteen hundred feet in all. Fifty miles further up is another Howe truss bridge, of three spans, four hundred and eighty feet long, and ninety feet above the water. The third bridge is situated seven miles above the junction of the Flathead and Missoula, and is ten hundred and fifty feet long, including approaches.

Smalley, in his "History of the Northern Pacific Railroad," says: "In the rock-work Mr. Hallett employed a method new in railroad construction, which he had first successfully used on the Columbia River line. The old way of cutting a roadbed along the face of a cliff was to begin at the top, drill small holes and blow off the rock, little by little, down to grade. Mr. Hallett began at the bottom, a little below grade, made a number of T-shaped tunnels, filled them with great quantities of powder, and touched them all off at the same moment by electricity. The effect was stupendous, the whole side of the mountain wall being lifted up and hurled into the river. Great saving in time and money was thus effected. A similar method was applied to through cuts, by means of perpendicular shafts and lateral galleries. One cut twenty-four feet deep by four hundred feet long


was excavated by a single blast of giant powder, most of the rock being thrown entirely out, and the rest so broken up that it was readily removed by derricks."

The same authority tells us that the most stupendous land-slide known in railroad building occurred in this vicinity in April, 1883.

Forty acres, covered with trees, slid off into the river, carrying the track with it, and partially obstructing the river."

The magnitude of business and enterprise in the New West also creates the necessity for the largest ferry-boat in the whole world. It is found on the Straits of Carquincy, in California, and is run by the railway company to shorten the distance to Sacramento. The Straits are one mile and a half wide.

Crofutt describes this monster ferry-boat as follows: "The 'Solano' is the same length as the 'City of Tokio,' and has the greatest length of beam of any vessel afloat. Her dimensions are: length over all, 424 feet; length of bottom,—she has no keel,—406 feet; height of sides in centre, 18 feet 5 inches; height of sides at each end from bottom of boat, 15 feet 10 inches; moulded beam, 64 feet; extreme width over guards, 116 feet; width of guards at centre of boat, 25 feet 6 inches; reverse shear of deck, 2 feet 6 inches. She has two vertical steam engines of 60-inch bore and 11-inch stroke. The engines have a nominal horse-power each, but are capable of being worked up to 2,000 horse-power each, The wheels are 30 feet in diameter, and the face of the baskets, 17 feet. There are 24 baskets in each wheel, 30 inches deep. She has eight steel boilers, each being of the following dimensions: length over all, 28 feet; diameter of shell, 7 feet; 143 tubes, 16 feet long by 4 inches diameter each; heating surface, 1,227 feet grate surface, 224 feet; entire heating surface, 9,816 feet; entire grate surface, 1,792 feet. The boilers are made in pairs, with one steam smoke-stack to each pair, 5 feet and 6 inches in diameter. She has 4 iron fresh-water tanks, each 20 feet long and 6 feet in diameter; registers 483,541.31 tons. She is a double ender, and at each end has four balance rudders, each 11 feet 6 inches long and 5 feet 6 inches in depth. They are constructed with coupling-rods, and each has one king-pin in the centre for the purpose of holding it in place. The rudders are worked by an hydraulic steering-gear, operated by an independent steam pump, and responds almost instantaneously to the touch. The engines are placed fore and aft, and operate entirely independent, each operating one wheel. This arrangement of the engines and paddles makes the boat more easily handled entering or leaving the slips, or turning quickly when required, as one wheel



can be made to go ahead and the other to reverse at the same time. One wheel is placed eight feet forward, and the other eight feet abaft


the centre of the boat. It has four tracks running from end to end, with the capacity of 48 freight, or 24 passenger cars. In its construction, 1,500,000 feet of lumber were used. Many of the timbers are over 100 feet long; four, the keelsons, are 117 feet long, each measuring 4,032 feet."

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