To Mr. Silas St. John, who was connected with the San Antonio and San Diego Line, established in 1857, we are indebted for the following facts in reference to this, the first stage line ever established across Arizona:
“The initial contract was for a semimonthly service between San Diego, California, and San Antonio, Texas, via El Paso. Mr. James E. Birch, President of the California Stage Company, took it as a personal venture for the sum of one hundred and forty-nine thousand dollars per year. Mr. Isaiah C. Woods, previously at the head of Adams & Company’s Express in California, (which failed in 1855), was superintendent and manager of the line.”
“The first mail eastbound was started from San Diego, California, in October, 1857, (about which time a contract for the opening of a wagon road was made by Superintendent James B. Leach and Engineer N. H. Hutton. This, according to Bancroft, corresponded largely with the route taken by Col. P. St. Geo. Cooke in 1846, but led down the San Pedro to the Aravaipa, and thence to the Gila, 21 miles east of the Pima Villages, thus saving 40 miles over the Tucson route, and by improvements about five days for wagons. The work was done by Leach and Hutton from the Rio Grande to the Colorado, between October 25th, and August 1st, 1858.) Although the advertisement in the San Francisco papers noted four horse Concord coaches, it (the mail) was really carried in saddle bags until some months later, when stations were established and stock strung along the line.
“The first four horse Concord stage left San Diego at 12 M. sharp, November 15th, 1857. There was a relay twelve miles east, and another fifteen miles east of that; this twenty-seven miles was all the coach work on the first trip. At this point Charley Youmans took saddle, and with two remounts reached Cariso Creek via Warner’s Ranch at 8 P. M. Here the mail was taken by Silas 1 St. John, accompanied by Charles Mason, to the next station, Jaeger’s Ferry at Fort Yuma, in 32 hours, without a remount. Fairly good time for 110 miles, only one water hole open, Cooke’s Well, at the time. From Fort Yuma, Captain Wallace (Big Foot) rode to the next station, Maricopa Wells. He had a companion and two relief horses. From Maricopa Wells, to Tucson, John Capron and Jim McCoy were the riders, the initial trip.
“A herd of stock was taken during November, 1857, from Yuma to Maricopa Wells for use upon the central section, Silas St. John in charge, assisted by James Laing of Kentucky, and William Cunningham, of Iowa. When they reached a point upon the Gila River where the road from the Ajo mines comes in, they met Boston’s trains en route to Yuma with ore, Edward E. Dunbar in charge, who reported a large band of Tontos just above the river, and advised St. John to take the trail south of Antelope Peak to avoid a meeting that might defeat reaching their destination with the herd intact, which advice they followed, although it involved being without water for 36 hours, but it enabled them to escape contact with the savages. A portion of the drive was made in the night. It was quite dark. The pack mule managed to rid himself of his load unseen. For three days ensuing, until Maricopa Wells was reached, the party fasted.
“Early in December, 1857, three coach loads of passengers, the first from California bound east, 18 persons in all, reached Maricopa. No attempt was made to put them through on mail time – extra teams were driven loose with the stage, and, as far as practicable, two hour drives were made, with an interval of two hours rest – thus fifty miles a day were made, but absence of water and feed very often disarranged the schedule.
“The company’s commissary not having reached the line, Col. E. V. Sumner, in command of the Department, issued a request to the quartermasters of the several military posts on the route to furnish them with supplies. At Fort Davis, the soldiers were short themselves, and before the coaches reached the next post, their food supply was exhausted, and for a few days the passengers had to be fed from the grain sacks of the mules. Being Californians of several years experience, they accepted the situation in good humor.
“Arriving at Camp Lancaster where a change of teams was expected to be had, a severe disappointment was experienced. The Comanches had paid the Fort a visit the day previous and driven off all the stock of the stage company and the United States Government, thus giving the worn out teams 200 more miles of travel, entailing considerable delay. High waters in the Sahanal and Nueces delayed them five days and they arrived at San Antonio ten days behind schedule time. St, John conducted this party through to San Antonio, Texas, without especial incident.”
In 1858 the Butterfield Line was organized to run from Marshall, Texas, to San Diego, California. Its eastern termini were St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, converging at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and the Western terminus was San Francisco, California. Its president was John Butterfield, of Utica, New York, who had a contract with the Government for carrying the mails over this route for $600,000 per annum. This company took over the line established the year previous by Birch and Woods, and its contract called for a semiweekly service between St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, to San Francisco, California.
The firm of Wells, Butterfield & Co, were contractors, and was composed of the leading express men in the United States. This concern was merged into the Overland Mail Company, and the service increased to a daily line, the compensation being augmented to $1,200,000 a year.
“In August, 1858, under the superintendency of William Buckley of Watertown, New York, Frank de Ruyther, William Brainard, Silas St. John and others, located the line and built the stations between the Rio Grande and Tucson. At Dragoon Springs, a corral of stone, 45×55 feet was erected. It was constructed especially strong, as this was a passing point for the Apaches going to and coming from Sonora. The walls and gates were completed before the construction corps moved on westwardly to San Pedro, St. John remaining with six assistants to complete the structure, roofing the storeroom and residence portion, etc. The assistants were James Hughes of Watertown, New York, the line blacksmith, James Laing and William Cunningham, before noted, and three Mexicans, laborers, Guadalupe and Pablo Ramirez, alias Chino, of Sonora, and Bonifacio Mirando, of Chihuahua. On the night of Wednesday, September 8th, it was clear starlight but no moon. At midnight, St. John was up changing the guard. Laing having stood the first portion of the night, Guadalupe was given the turn until daylight. The other two Mexicans slept outside the walls, as also did Mr. Hughes, who preferred not to remain inside where too many animals were stabled. St. John slept in the room at the northeast corner next the gateway, Laing in the center room, while Cunningham occupied the room in the south corner, where the stores were kept. About one o’clock A. M., St. John was partially aroused by an unusual stir among the stock. He heard a low whistle sounded, apparently as a signal, and simultaneously there was the sound of blows and a feeble outcry from the victims on either side of him. St. John sprang to his feet from the pallet upon the ground to be confronted by the three Mexicans, Guadalupe armed with a broad axe, Bonifacio with a chopping axe, and Pablo, alias Chino, with a stone sledge, all striking at him.
“A well directed kick disposed of Chino, the glint of the axe wielded by Bonifacio directed toward St. John’s head, shown by the starlight, enabled him to parry the blow with his right hand, winch threw the axe blade into his hip, while a straight from the shoulder blow landed in Bonifacio’s face, knocked him out. Guadalupe was at St. John’s left striking viciously with the short handled broad axe. The first stroke was caught in parrying by the palm of his hand, the next upon the forearm below the elbow. As St. John reached for his Spark’s rifle, which was standing against the wall at the head of his bed, Guadalupe got in a successful stroke which severed St. John’s arm midway between elbow and shoulder. Bringing the rifle into play, he knocked the axe from Guadalupe’s hands, and the other two having gained their feet, all three made their escape through the gateway. The action lasted from ten to twenty seconds. As St. John’s left arm was disabled, the bone being severed, he dropped the rifle and reached for his pistol from the holster on his saddle, which he was using as a pillow. The Mexicans, hearing the gun drop, attempted to reenter the corral, when St. John fired one shot, upon which they decamped. Owing to the wound in his hip, St. John’s right hip was disabled so that he could not follow outside for further shots. St. John bound up his wounds as well as he could, climbed to the top of some sacks of barley where he could command a view over the walls, and, pistol in hand, waited for daylight. Two of his companions not being killed outright, were moaning deeply. When light enough to see St. John got down from his perch, and went to Cunningham, who had three cuts on his head, evidently inflicted by Guadalupe with the broad axe – he was unconscious, but occasionally groaning. Laing had one wound immediately on the top of his head, severing the skull in twain, from which the brain was protruding. He was alive and partly conscious, as he made attempts to rise. Bonifacio evidently inflicted the wound with the chopping axe. St. John crept outside to where Hughes was lying, and found his head completely crushed by a blow from the stone sledge. His death was instantaneous. St. John found that moving about caused the blood to flow freely from his wounds. He made a tourniquet with a handkerchief, stone and stick, which stopped the flow of blood from his left arm, but the wound in his hip, being full width of the axe blade, was more difficult to control, but by keeping still the blood coagulated and stopped the hemorrhage. All day Thursday, he lay there enduring the groans of his companions whom he was powerless to aid. It was very hot during the day, no water in the corral; he was feverish from his wounds, and suffered much from thirst. Thursday night the coyotes were attracted by the smell of the wounds, and their barking and howling made a pandemonium, which was added to by the braying of the hungry mules. About midnight, St. John heard the death rattle in Cunningham’s throat. Friday dawned; with light came flocks of buzzards, crows and magpies, who alighted on the walls and rafters – the roof was not on yet. St. John, waving his arm, kept them from coming into the corral. They, however, mutilated the face of Hughes who lay outside. This night was also made hideous by the starving animals, and increased number of wolves, who appeared to be fighting among themselves. When they came to the gate, St. John fired on them with his revolver, which kept them at bay. With daylight Saturday morning, they left, but the buzzards returned. This, the third day, seemed to St. John almost interminable, while his thirst was torturing. Laing was yet alive, moaning feebly, but not attempting to move. This night, the wolves were more bold and attacked Hughes’ body, fighting and quarrelling over it not more than ten feet from where St. John lay. An occasional pistol shot kept them from entering the enclosure. With Sunday morning came relief. Mr. Archibald, correspondent for the Memphis Avalanche, arrived from Tucson on his way to the Rio Grande. Seeing no flag flying and no one moving about the station, he halted a half mile distant, leaving his horse with his companion, and approached with his gun cocked. St. John could not respond to his halloos as his tongue and throat were disabled from thirst. Archibald at once started for the spring, a mile distant up the canyon. He had no sooner left than three wagons of the Leach road party approached from the East. They, too, seeing no life about the station, left the road and made a detour about half a mile to the south- fearing an ambuscade. Then they cautiously approached the corral on foot. In the party were Col. James B. Leach, Major N. H. Hutton and some other veterans, who quickly dressed St. John’s wounds, which were full of maggots. They buried the bodies of Hughes and Cunningham in one grave. Laing still hung to life tenaciously although nothing could be done for him – he died on Monday.
“An express was started for Fort Buchanan by way of Tucson, as the direct route was not deemed safe for two men. They reached the fort on Wednesday following. The doctor, Asst, Surgeon B. J. D. Irwin, started at once with an escort and reached Dragoon on Friday morning – the ninth day after St. John was wounded. The arm was amputated at the socket. Six days afterward, St. John got into a wagon and rode to the fort; five days later he was able to walk about, and ten days thereafter, being twenty-one days from the operation, was able to mount a horse and ride to Tucson. A remarkably quick recovery from such severe wounds.” (For an account of the operation upon St. John, and his recovery, see Surgeon’s report, American Journal of Medical Science, October, 1859.)
The Butterfield route was fully established in 1858, but was discontinued towards the close of the year 1860 on account of Indian depredations, and the almost certainty of war between the States.
The establishment of the Butterfield route, over which was run a tri-weekly stage for a distance of two thousand miles, through an Indian country, over rough, natural roads, was a triumph that cannot be too highly praised. Through the wild Indian country, particularly the latter portion, which Cochise and Mangus Colorado claimed as their territory, it was extremely hazardous, and was made mostly during the night. Of course there were occasional interruptions in the regular traffic; now and then stages were held up and their occupants killed and the stock driven off, but, considering the hazardous undertaking, the success attending can be considered as little short of marvelous.
The first stage left St. Louis September 15, 1858, being followed by a second the next day; the latter being necessary to handle the accumulation of mail. Both arrived in San Francisco October 10th, twenty-five days out in the one case, twenty-four in the other; thus inaugurating the first transcontinental mail and passenger line on which continuous travel was kept up. Although the contract allowed them twenty-five days on the road, after the first few trips, the time was much shortened. It was divided into eight divisions and arranged as follows:
1. Tipton, Mo. to Ft. Smith, Arkansas 218½ 49
2. Ft. Smith, Arkansas to Colbert’s Ferry (now Dennison, Texas) 192 38
3. Colbert’s Ferry to Ft. Chadburn 282½ 65½
4. Ft. Chadburn to El Paso 458 126½
5. El Paso to Tucson 360 82
6. Tucson to Ft. Yuma 280 71½
7. Ft. Yuma to Los Angeles 282 72½
8. Los Angeles to San Francisco 462 80
Totals 2535 585
This schedule was adhered to with remarkable accuracy. During 18 months the stage arrived at San Francisco late but three times. During the months of January and February, 1859, the two coaches, one from St. Louis, westbound, and the other from San Francisco, eastbound, met at the middle of the route near El Paso within three hundred yards of the same spot. Deducting time lost at stations, in changing horses, feeding passengers, crossing ferries, etc., this schedule required an average rate of five and one half miles per hour, or one hundred and ten miles a day. The best time ever made from one terminus to the other was twenty-one days, twenty-three hours, the incentive being some specially important Government mail. A good part of the road was little better than a trail made by horsemen and pack animals. There was, however, a wagon road from Tipton to Ft. Smith, Ark., and from El Paso to Yuma, the latter having been constructed by the Government. Although stages had been in operation from Los Angeles to San Francisco since 1854′, the road across the Indian Territory and Texas was unbroken. Little or no work was ever done on the balance, except the building of a few short bridges and the cutting down of the banks of streams, the road going around obstacles rather than incurring the expense of removing them.
The trip was a hard and laborious one and not to be undertaken rashly. It meant twenty odd days confined in a hard seated and practically springless stage coach, with the constant jar, night and day; at certain portions of the journey being exposed to rain, and at others to the dust and heat from the desert by day, and to the cold by night. For long stretches water had to be hauled to the stations for miles. In Western Texas there was one station where water for both man and beast had to be hauled in casks twenty-two miles during four-fifths of the year. The stock being mostly of the variety known as bronchos, were vicious and unruly. It was not only trying on the nerves but an absolute nuisance with each fresh team, to have to go through the same process, bucking and rearing, followed by a stampede, only brought to an end by exhaustion, during which time the stage would run sometimes on one wheel and then on the other, over rocks and gullies, sometimes on the road, but oftener off it. Altogether the trip seemed to bear out the estimate made by an old Californian, who, writing from the East after having made the trip, said: “I know now what hell is, for I have had twenty-four days of it.”
The trip was made only by those to whom time was an object, all others taking the less trying routes by Panama or Nicaragua, or even around Cape Horn.
The through passage cost $150 exclusive of meals, which were from forty cents to a dollar each. The bill of fare, outside of an occasional item of game, was abominable, consisting, according to the records, of chicory coffee, sweetened with molasses or brown sugar; hot, heavy biscuit; fried pork, floating in grease, and corn bread, from the hands of the frontier cook, soggy and unpalatable.
The Indians from Ft. Smith to the Colorado River were a constant menace. The desperadoes of the Southwest, composed largely of Mexicans from Sonora, were even worse than the Apaches. Another bad element was made up of fugitives from justice from the Eastern states and California, it being asserted that Judge Lynch and the San Francisco Vigilantes were Arizona’s best emigrant agencies. These regarded the Mexicans with great contempt, and the feeling between the two classes was bitter, resulting in a race war practically all the time.
In the four years ending 1861, one hundred and eleven Americans and fifty-seven Mexicans met violent deaths.
At the beginning of the Thirty-seventh Congress, in March, i860, the country was on the verge of internal war. The Southern element, which had caused the selection of this route, no longer controlled Congress. It was also apparent that the Southern States would secede from the Union, and that the line must be discontinued or changed to a different route. The route was never a popular one. The great overland emigration followed the much shorter and less hazardous one by way of South Pass and Salt Lake. By act of Congress, approved March 2nd, 1861, the Southern Overland Mail Company was authorized and required to change from the Butterfield to the Central route, via South Pass and Salt Lake, the eastern terminus being fixed at St. Louis, Missouri, the western at Placerville, California. For this they were to receive one million of dollars per year for transporting the mail, and were required to handle letter mail six times a week on a twenty day schedule during eight months of the year, and on a twenty-three day schedule during the remaining four months; other mail to be carried on a thirty-five day schedule. Denver was to have a tri-weekly service; the company to run a pony express, etc. The charge for the pony express for delivering a letter was ten cents, and the time ten days from the Missouri River.
The old company was given a year in which to rearrange the route, being allowed the regular pay under their old contract for so much of this time as was required in removing their equipment and stock, and two months’ pay as indemnity for damages and losses incurred. Service from St. Louis over the Butterfield route was discontinued April 1st, 1861, and on July 1st of the same year, the new company started their first stage from St. Joseph. In abandoning this old route, they, of course, sacrificed all the improvements they had made in the way of stations, ferries, etc. They also suffered heavily from the loss of stock, equipment and forage. The Texans confiscated all they could gather together, and the Indians, emboldened by the withdrawal of the troops, made a number of attacks, to the great detriment of the service and loss to the company, so it will be seen that the transfer of the stock and equipment was made in the face of great difficulties; it was no child’s play to move a great number of stages and stock from Texas and Arizona to the Missouri route.
Notwithstanding overland service had been demanded by the public for a long time, when the service was established, the public was slow to avail themselves of it. During October, 1858, but two thousand five hundred and nine letters were carried; in October, 1859, sixty-four thousand, and in March, 1860, one hundred and twelve thousand, six hundred and forty-five. The total postage paid on mail carried on the route from the start, September 15, 1858, up to March 31, 1860, was $71,378,00, about $3,860.00 per month, while it was costing the Post office Department $50,000.00 per month. It had hardly been established before efforts were made in Congress to withdraw it. Efforts to change the service to weekly trips instead of semi-weekly, were attempted. The Butterfield Company, however, stood upon their contract, and no change was made. The agitation was largely owing to the sectional fight in Congress at the time.
Financially the line was a failure. Its returns from passengers were comparatively small, the mail contract just about paying running expenses. The originators never received any returns from their original investment. The Company was quite willing to part with their entire right, which they did by sale in 1861, to Ben Holliday and the Wells, Fargo & Company Express Company.
Over the Butterfield route was hauled machinery for the betterment of the Heintzelman and the Mowry mines. Prospectors covered that portion of the country, locating mining claims which eventually proved quite valuable. As already stated in this history, Colonel Poston raised the capital necessary for the development of what was known as the Heintzelman Mine, Major Heintzelman, afterwards a Major General in the Federal Army, being President of the Company. They shipped large quantities of rich ore, some of it going as high as four and five thousand dollars a ton in silver, to the East, which served to throw new light upon the mineral resources of Arizona. Colonel Heintzelman secured a furlough from the Army, and for two years employed himself actively as Superintendent of the mine, up to 1860. Regarding the products of this mine, Poston says that it was yielding a profit of from twelve to fifteen thousand dollars a month, more than one half of the ore reduced being net profit.
The same success attended the working of the Mowry mine. Lieutenant Mowry was a West Pointer, but bad resigned his commission in the Army and turned bis attention to mining, and, according to bis statement, was making, at that time, a great success in the venture.
In 1857 the Secretary of War, John B. Floyd, organized an expedition in charge of Lieutenant J. C. Ives, Topographical Engineers to explore the Colorado River, the object being to ascertain bow far the river was navigable for steamboats. With bis report, which was submitted to the President by the Secretary of War, June 5th, 1860, Lieutenant Ives submitted his daily journal of this expedition, a document of great interest to those interested in the early explorations made by the Government in Arizona. The transportation of supplies across the desert had been attended with such difficulties that in 1850 and 1851 General Smith, commanding the Pacific Division, sent a schooner from San Francisco to the head of the Gulf of California and directed Lieutenant Derby, Topographical Engineers, the author of Phoenixiana, to make a reconnaissance with a view of establishing a route for supplies to Fort Yuma, via the Gulf and the Colorado. The result of the reconnaissance was successful and the route was at once put in operation. The freight carried in sailing vessels to the mouth of the river, was transported to the fort – the distance to which, by the river, is one hundred and fifty miles – at first in lighters, and afterwards in steamboats.
In 1851, Captain Sitgreaves, Topographical Engineers, with a party of fifty individuals, made an exploration from Zuni westward. He struck the Colorado at a point about 160 miles above Fort Yuma, and followed the east side of the river, keeping as near to the bank as possible, to the fort.
In the Spring of 1854, Lieutenant Whipple, Topographical Engineers, in command of an expedition for the exploration and survey of a railroad route near the 35th parallel, reached the Colorado at the mouth of Bill Williams’ Fork, and ascended the river about fifty miles, leaving it at a point not far below where Captain Sitgreaves had first touched it. The expedition was composed of nearly a hundred persons, including the escort. The Mojaves were friendly, furnishing provisions to the party whose supply was nearly exhausted, and sending guides to conduct them by the best route across the desert westward. The river was probably higher than when seen by Captain Sitgreaves, and it was the opinion of Lieutenant Whipple that it would be navigable for steamers of light draught. The course of the Colorado northward could be followed with the eye for only a short distance, on account of mountain spurs that crossed the valley and intercepted the view. A high distant range, through which the river apparently broke, was supposed to be at the mouth of the “Big Canon” which the Spaniards, in 1540, had visited at a place far above.
Lieutenant Ives’ expedition was to explore the Colorado and to run a line to the Zuni villages. The members of the expedition were assembled in San Francisco in the middle of October, and received great assistance from General Clarke commanding the department of the Pacific, and the officers of his staff. The party divided into three detachments. One, in charge of Dr. Newberry, the physician of the expedition, and also in charge of the natural history department who had previously made extensive geological surveys in California and Oregon, while attached to the party of Lieutenant Williamson, topographical engineers, in charge of the Pacific railroad surveys in those regions, started on the 28th of October in the coast steamer to San Diego, at which place some mules were procured and taken across the desert to Fort Yuma. The second detachment, in charge of Mr. P. H. Taylor, one of the astronomical assistants, went by the same steamer to San Pedro from whence they were to go to Fort Tejon, collect the remainder of the animals, and also cross to Fort Yuma.
Lieutenant Ives, with Mr. A. J. Carroll, of Philadelphia, who was a steamboat engineer, and an escort of eight men, went by sea to the head of the Gulf of California upon the steamer Monterey.
At this time there was a company under the direction of Captain Johnson, which was carrying freight from the head of the Gulf of California to Fort Yuma, and they, being unable, according to Lieutenant Ives, to furnish a boat for the use of the expedition at any reasonable rate of compensation, a steamboat of suitable construction, adapted to the enterprise, was built on the Atlantic coast and transported to San Francisco. This steamboat was also conveyed to the head of the Gulf on the same schooner upon which Lieutenant Ives and his companions made the trip, arriving there at a time when it was thought that the survey could be made at the worst and lowest stage of the river. This steamboat had been built in sections to be put together by the party at the mouth of the Colorado River. After the usual delays, the freight was unloaded on the 4th of December, at a suitable point, and the work of putting together the steamboat was commenced. This boat was 54 feet over all, not quite half the length of Capt. Johnson’s “Colorado,” at that time plying between Fort Yuma and the mouth of the Gulf of California. Amidships she was open, but the bow was decked, and at the stern was a cabin 7×8 feet, the top of which formed an outlook. For armament she was supplied on the bow with a four pound howitzer. This weapon, however, was not of much service.
In this narrative it is not necessary to go into detail. The party had the usual difficulties attendant upon such explorations. The steamboat was finally assembled and named the “Explorer” but could not be launched until flood tide. When the anticipated flood came, the engines were put in motion and Lieutenant Ives had the satisfaction of seeing the little vessel, under the bright moonlight, slowly back out of the pit which had been her cradle, into the whirling, seething, current. During a squall, the next day, the boat shipped water alarmingly, but the journey was continued over the gliding torrent. This was on the 30th of December. J. H. Robinson was engaged as pilot, and on the 11th of January, 1858, the “Explorer” left Fort Yuma upon her mission concerning which Lieutenant Ives, in his letter to his superior officer, Captain A. A. Humphreys, topographical engineers, says:
”The main object of the work being to ascertain the navigability of the Colorado, detailed information upon that point was also forwarded as the examination proceeded. It was my desire, in the communications referred to, rather to lay stress upon than to undervalue the difficulties encountered. At the same time the opinion was expressed that the delays and obstacles met with in the first experiment might, in a great measure, be avoided upon a new trial, conducted with the provisions that experience had suggested.
“This view has since received ample confirmation. The outbreak among the Mojave Indians, and the consequent movement of troops into their territory, caused the navigability of the Colorado, at different seasons of the year, to be thoroughly tested. The result has been beyond my most sanguine estimate. The round trip between the head of the Gulf and the Mojave villages-which are 425 miles from the mouth of the Colorado, and but 75 miles from the point which I think should be regarded as the practical head of navigation – has been made in eight days.
“I would again state my belief that the Colorado would be found an economical avenue for the transportation of supplies to various military posts in New Mexico and Utah. It may be instanced that the amount of land transportation saved by adopting this route would be; to the Great Salt Lake, 700 miles; to Fort Defiance, 600 miles, and to Fort Buchanan, 1,100 miles. The estimate contained in the hydrographic report, of the cost attending the river service, is, I think, a liberal one. The first organization of transportation establishments, to connect the upper part of the river with the interior of the Territories mentioned, would be attended with expense and trouble, but I am convinced that it would ultimately be productive of a great saving in both. The results of the exploration, so far as they relate to the navigability of the river, will be found embodied in map No. 1, and in the hydrographic report.
“The region explored after leaving the navigable portion of the Colorado – though, in a scientific point of view, of the highest interest, and presenting natural features whose strange sublimity is perhaps unparallel in any part of the world – is not of much value. Most of it is uninhabitable, and a great deal of it is impassable. A brief statement could comprise the whole of what might be called the practical results of the land explorations. The country along the Colorado, however, with the exception of a few places, has been almost a terra incognita. Concerning the character and value of the portions previously explored, great differences of opinion existed. Between the mouth and the highest point attained are many localities unique and surpassingly beautiful. Some of the Indian tribes, of whom little has been known, are subjects for curious speculation; and it being doubtful whether any party will ever again pursue the same line of travel, I have thought it would be better in place of condensing into a few lines, the prominent facts noticed, to transmit the journal kept during the expedition.
“In passing from the Colorado eastward, an opportunity was afforded of forming connection between the Big Sandy on Lieutenant Whipple’s railroad route, and the point upon the river north of the Needles. The examination verified the judgment of Lieutenant Whipple, who, though prevented from actually passing over the country, had selected it for a railroad location. The distance by Whipple’s travelled route between the above points was 180 miles, and is over a rough and difficult region; by his railroad route, it is 80 miles. For 35 miles the line is nearly level; for the remaining 45 miles there is a uniform grade of about 70 feet. During the whole distance there is scarcely an irregularity upon the surface of the ground.”
On March 12th, 1858, Lieutenant Ives reached the foot of Black Canyon in the “Explorer,” and from thence he went to the head of Black Canyon in a small boat. Returning from this point to the Mojave villages, he sent the boat down to the fort, and with part of his scientific corps, being joined also by Lieutenant Tipton with an escort of twenty men, he started eastward by land. His route was north of that followed by earlier explorers, including the canons of the Colorado Chiquito 1 and other streams, and also, for the first time since the American occupation, the Moqui pueblos. He reached Fort Defiance in May. He visited the Grand Canyon at the mouth of Diamond Creek, the Havasupai Canyon, and other places.
Early in January, 1858, Captain Johnson, in his steamer, the “General Jesup,” went up from Yuma to ferry Lieutenant Beale across the river on his return from California. Before meeting Beale, Johnson pushed his steamer experimentally up the river to the head of Black Canyon, the point which Lieutenant Ives claimed to be the head of navigation. Johnson did this, according to Dellenbaugh, expressly to anticipate the exploration undertaken by Lieutenant Ives, and, although in this manner, Ives was robbed of the credit of being the first to ascend the Colorado to this point, yet to him belongs the credit of first making a careful survey and map of the river to the point designated.
In 1866, Captain Rodgers took the steamer “Esmeralda,” ninety-seven feet long, drawing three and a half feet of water, up to Callville, not far below the mouth of the Virgin River, but this probably was accomplished when the river was at a high stage, sometime during the months of June or July.
The Mormons, who may be regarded as the pioneer explorers of the great West, were the first to explore the northwestern part of Arizona. In reference to their early activities, Dellenbaugh furnishes the following:
“The Mormons were desirous of opening a road to communicate with the region east and south of the Colorado, especially that the ‘Lamanites’ might be able to come from there and receive endowments in the temple of St. George according to prophecy. Brigham Young directed Jacob Hamblin to undertake this journey, and in the autumn of 1857, he went with a party under the guidance of a native to the Ute Ford, or Crossing of the Fathers, where Escalante had broken the way eighty-one years before. Successfully traversing this difficult passage, possible only at a very low stage of water, he and his eleven companions reached the Moqui Towns in safety. Nearly every autumn after this saw Jacob wending his way to the same region, but not always without disaster. In 1860, the party was turned back south of the river and one of their number, young Smith, was killed by the Navajos. In 1862, Jacob tried another route to reach the same locality, going to the Colorado by way of the Grand Wash, southwesterly from St. George. At the river, they built a boat and safely passed over. They then went south and east below the great chasm to the San Francisco Mountains, suffering greatly for water in that arid region. Crossing the Little Colorado, they finally arrived at the towns of the Moquis. But on the return, Jacob followed the original route by way of the Crossing of the Fathers, and was thus the first white man to circum-tour the Grand Canyon. The next year, he went again by the Grand Wash trail, touched at Havasupai Canyon, and arrived once more among the friendly Moqui, three of whom had accompanied him back to Utah on the last trip. On this 1863 journey, he was accompanied by Lewis Greeley, a nephew of Horace Greeley, who had come down from Salt Lake with letters from Brigham Young. It was not till six years later that a crossing was made at the mouth of the Paria, now Lee’s Ferry, still the chief, I might say, the only available crossing between Grand Wash and Gunnison Valley. Jacob Hamblin was the first to go that way. The river is deep and a raft or boat is necessary to transport goods.”
Notes About Book:
Source: History Of Arizona Volume 2, By Thomas Edwin Farish, 1915, Printed and Published by Direction of the Second Legislature of the State of Arizona, A. D.
Notes about Online Publication: This manuscript has been ocr’d and heavily edited. Many of the Native American words have been reproduced as clearly as online publication will allow us, but not all are exactly the way they were in the original work. The structure of this manuscript has been changed to allow better online presentation.