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near the boiling springs. The only Indians met on this part of the route are the diggers, and they do not possess the power to do much harm, if they even were hostile; but they are friendly. The want of water is the principal annoyance.

Passing over the desolate valleys and hills that border Mary's River, the trail descends into a large circular basin, in which a place for encamping is found, but with little water. From this basin, it crosses some considerable elevations and then a totally barren plain ten miles wide. Beyond this, water and grass of tolerable quality are soon found; and there, if possible, a supply should be obtained sufficient to last for a long day's journey. Rounding the base of a mountain, the trail takes a south-west course, across a totally barren plain. No sign of the river, or the existence of any water is exhibited. Near the southern edge of the plain, which is twenty miles in extent, some pools of standing water are found, and the place is known as the "Sink of Mary's River." From these pools to the Truckee, or Salmon Trout River, the distance is forty-five miles. The trail is followed over the hills of ashy earth, in which the mules often sink to their bellies, and over a ground destitute of any vegetation, except occasional clumps of wild sage. A ridge of mountains is then ascended by an easy inclined plain, and a view of the distant range of Sierra Nevada is obtained on reaching the summit. The intervening valley presents as barren a prospect as the country immediately preceding it. Descending into it, numerous boiling springs are found, which often serve to delude the thirsty emigrants. But by damming up the streams which flow from them, the water may be cooled, and, although impregnated with

salt, sulphur, and magnesia, it may quench the thirst. The phenomenon of mirage is frequently presented to the view of the emigrants, and it very often assumes the appearance of things unknown to that desert region, such as lakes, cascades, and foaming and tumbling waters. About twelve miles from the springs, a ridge of sandy hills, running across the valley, is ascended, and then an elevated plain of about ten miles in extent is crossed by the trail. Over this plain the travelling is very laborious-the sand being very deep. But at length the Truckee River is reached, and water, grass and trees, larger than any upon the former part of the route for five hundred miles preceding, greet the wearied and thirsty emigrant.

The Truckee River is about fifty feet in breadth with a shallow but rapid current of clear water. The bottom land is exceedingly fertile, and game is sometimes to be obtained in its neighborhood. The trail crosses the Truckee very frequently, in its winding course, but the country being agreeable, this is not considered toilsome by the emigrant, after traversing the barren plains in the vicinity of Mary's River. The course of the Truckee is nearly from the south-west to the north-east, and in some places it passes between very high mountains, affording scarcely room for travellers to pass. Sometimes the trail is followed through fertile valleys and then over barren hills and rocky passes till the summit of a gap in the mountains is reached, and a pleasant valley opens to the view, offering a fine place for encampment. The trail then turns to the left, and proceeds in a southerly direction, crossing the Truckee several times, until the Truckee Lake breaks upon the view. This small

sheet of water is surrounded by lofty mountains, except upon the side where its outlet flows from it. The trail strikes the shore of the lake at its eastern end, and continues around its. north-eastern side over a very difficult, boggy road. Having reached the upper end of the lakes, the trail leaves the shore on the right hand, ascends over some rocky hills, and, crossing some deep ravines and swampy ground, arrives at the base of the crest of the Sierra Nevada. Then comes the ascent of the steep pass-a work of difficulty and danger. The mules are compelled to leap from crag to crag, and, when heavily laden, are often precipitated backward in climbing the almost perpendicular rocks.

Having attained the summit of the pass, the view is inexpressibly grand and comprehensive. A mile journey upon the top of the mountain brings the traveller to a small lake, surrounded by good grass, which is often used as a place of encampment. Leaving the lake on the right hand, the trail descends over the rocky ground for a few miles, and then enters a beautiful valley about five miles long. Through this valley, which is called the Yuba valley, by the emigrants, flows the Yuba River, a tributary of the Feather River, and the scene of considerable gold digging and washing. This is the commencement of the gold region, and after their journey through the wilderness, here the emigrants greet the "promised land." From this point to Sacramento city, the great terminus of the overland emigration, it is about sixty miles; but the trading post of Yuba, Johnson's ranche, Vernon, and the other posts, offer convenient intermediate resting places.

We have thus sketched the general character of the

principal overland route to California, and have followed the trail of the emigrant over all the difficulties and obstacles which present themselves upon the route. That there are portions of the journey which are productive of considerable suffering, and which demand stout hearts and strong constitutions to meet them, is not to be doubted. But they are few compared with the dangers to be encountered by deviating from the particular trail whose course we have followed. The want of water is the principal source of annoyance towards the lake part of the route, but this occurs in few places. The longest distance to be travelled without finding water, is about forty-five miles from the "Sink" of Mary's River to Truckee River, and this may be prepared for. It is a matter of great importance, that the delay upon the route should be as little as possible. Great suffering and many deaths have been caused by delaying too long at different camping places. It should be made an urgent duty to get over as much ground every day as possible, and to keep in the old trail.

The overland route which we have sketched, and the route by way of Chagres and Panama, are the two routes by which most of the California emigrations had proceeded; but there are others projected, and some have been followed. Many persons have proceeded to California through Mexico; but the difficulty and delay in the matter of passports, and the opposition of the Mexicans to armed parties of another country passing their territory, must prove weighty objections to any such route. Another has been projected, and will probably be opened. It is a route across the territory of Nicaragua, in Central America. This will be the shortest and most convenient route to the gold

region, and will absorb the greater portion of the travel thither; but the overland route will always be taken by those who have been accustomed to a country life, or have a thirst for adventure. It presents the greatest variety of scenery-some of it of a character not to be seen elsewhere; and affords opportunities for studying nature in all her visible forms; and, though attended with toils and dangers, which will daunt the feeble, it possesses the strongest attractions for the lovers of variety, and the hardy adventurer who has confidence in his own powers of endurance.



BELIEVING that every event which in any way affects the interests or welfare of California is important to those who have watched her progress and have been astonished at her rapid rise, we will in this and a subsequent chapter, bring the narrative up to the time of issuing this work.

The city of San Francisco, in the midst of her progress and prosperity, has been twice visited by the destroying element of fire. The first calamity of this kind occurred on the morning of the 25th of December, 1849. The fire consumed all that portion of the city on and near the plaza, involving a loss, at California prices, of over a million of dollars. Fortunately,

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