1881: Ogden – Virginia City

August 1881

Not before 6:30 pm can we continue our journey; it starts with the Utah- and Northern R.R. passing Salt Lake, its lonely shores being washed by salty waters. Bright moonlight shines upon the valleys we are crossing. At some stops we are offered fruits, we are happy to buy some. Higher up in the mountains it is getting rougher again. The next day, August 9th, light rain is starting to fall. At Eagle Rock in the state of Idaho we cross Snake River. In the afternoon we pass through narrow valleys, their sloping sides being covered in massive amounts of big and smaller rocks.

Further north, at the entrance to Montana territory, the train leads us through fertile valleys, but the mountains seem barren and unwooded. In Dillon we have at 6:40 pm finally reached the final railway destination. At the station I refresh myself with two small glasses of beer, for which I need to kill a quarter dollar.

From Dillon onwards, the journey continues in a stagecoach

Before climbing onto the broad, heavy stagecoach that is due to leave at 8 o’clock, I, at a secluded place, providently load my colt, to then let it disappear into my back pocket.

The stagecoach is being heavily loaded with luggage from all sides. Inside there are nine seats: 3 in the back, 3 in front and on a board in the middle, another three people can take place. All seats get occupied, I had quickly chosen the best place, in the middle of the back row, where I believed to be the safest in case of a knock over. This precaution should prove right already after a few hours.

Drawn by four strong horses, the coach rolls into the night, on the box seat the coachman and a companion are armed with guns and colts. The roads, if one can call them that, are mostly very poor. Constructed roads don’t exist, on has to drive cross country following the paths that other coaches have made. The bridges, which often cross mountain streams racing in the depth, are thoroughly built in the most simple way: Round tree trunks placed next to each other, without railing, which is why only experienced coachmen lead these stagecoach journeys.

The bumpy paths with deep grooves and big holes often cause severe shocks and a strong swaying of the coach, us sometimes fearing a knock over. Nevertheless, around midnight sleep has come upon most of the travelers. Despite being very tired, I could not quite fall asleep yet. Half asleep, I feel how the left side of the coach has gotten into a deep pit. Slowly the heavy coach is turning on its left side, my left neighbor is lying under me, fast asleep, while my right neighbor is already climbing out of the window, me adding an impatient “get out!”. Soon we are all outside, nobody is injured and nothing is damaged, windowpanes were not existing. With big efforts the coach is lifted upright again and the luggage tied on again, a scene enlightened by a curious full moon, that with a gleeful smile already at such an early hour congratulates me for my birthday – St. Lawrence day had just dawned.

After a delay of one hour we are continuing swiftly. In Salisbury we change coaches at 3:30 am, whereafter we continue with only four people and reach Virginia-City at 10 am. We have missed the connecting stagecoach, so we check in at Madison-house. For lunch and dinner as well as a bed for the night I had to pay two dollars. In the afternoon I went for a long walk to the mountains surrounding the little city. In the city I noticed many Indians who were idly squatting in front of their houses. Their appearance had nothing martial and could in no way be compared with Copper’s descriptions.

translated by Sabine Randoll

One thought on “1881: Ogden – Virginia City

  1. Ursula Howland says:

    It is so much fun to follow your stories. You will have to keep posting till after you will be back in Germany. Your adventures just keep coming.
    We had a great time with you here in Bozeman. And we ARE looking forward to seeing you here again.
    Big hugs,

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