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N. P. l^h^GfcRD 




University of California • Berkeley 

From the 
Francis P. Farquhar 
Exploration Library 

Gift of 

The Marjory Bridge Farquhar 

1972 Trust 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



Washburn Expedition 


Yellowstone and Firehole 

In the Year 1870 


Copyright, 1905, 




When the rumored discovery in the year 1861 of extensive 
gold placers on Salmon river was confirmed, the intelligence 
spread through the states like wild fire. Hundreds of men 
with dependent families, who had been thrown out of em- 
ployment by the depressed industrial condition of the coun- 
try and by the Civil War, and still others actuated by a 
thirst for gain, utilized their available resources in provid- 
ing means for an immediate migration to the land of prom- 
ise. Before midsummer they had started on the long and 
perilous journey. How little did they know of its expo- 
sures ! The deserts, destitute of water and grass, the alka- 
line plains where food and drink were alike affected by the 
poisonous dust, the roving bands of hostile Indians, the 
treacherous quicksands of river fords, the danger and diffi- 
culty of the mountain passes, the death of their companions, 
their cattle and their horses, breakage of their vehicles, 
angry and often violent personal altercations — all these fled 
in the light of the summer sun, the vernal beauty of the 
plains and the delightfully pure atmosphere which wooed 
them day by day farther away from the abode of civilization 
and the protection of law. The most fortunate of this army 

iv Introduction. 

of adventurers suffered from some of these fruitful causes of 
disaster. So certain were they to occur in some form that 
a successful completion of the journey was simply an escape 
from death. The story of the Indian murders and cruelties 
alone, which befell hundreds of these hapless emigrants, 
would fill volumes. Every mile of the several routes across 
the continent was marked by the decaying carcasses of oxen 
and horses, which had perished during the period of this 
hegira to the gold mines. Three months with mules and 
four with oxen were necessary to make the journey — a jour- 
ney now completed in five days from ocean to ocean by the 
railroad. Some of these expeditions, after entering the un- 
explored region which afterwards became Montana, were 
arrested by the information that it would be impossible to 
cross with wagon teams the several mountain ranges be- 
tween them and the mines. 

In the summer of 1862 a company of 130 persons left St. 
Paul for the Salmon river mines. This Northern overland 
expedition was confided to the leadership of Captain James 
L. Fisk, whose previous frontier experience and unquestion- 
able personal courage admirably fitted him for the command 
of an expedition which owed so much of its final success, as 
well as its safety during a hazardous journey through a re- 
gion occupied by hostile Indians, to the vigilance and dis- 
cipline of its commanding officer. E. H. Burritt was first 
assistant, the waiter was second assistant and commissary, 
and Samuel R. Bond w^as secretary. Among those who were 
selected for guard duty were David E. Folsom, Patrick Do- 
herty (Baptiste), Robert C. Knox, Patrick Bray, Cornelius 
Bray, Ard Godfrey, and many other well known pioneers of 
Montana. We started with ox teams on this journey on the 
16th day of June, traveling by the way of Fort Abercrombie, 
old Fort Union, Milk river and Fort Benton, bridging all the 
streams not fordable on the entire route. Fort Union and 

Introduction. v 

Fort Benton were not United States military forts, but were 
the old trading posts of the American Fur Company. 

This Northern overland route of over 1,600 miles, lay for 
most of the distance through a partially explored region, 
filled with numerous bands of the hostile Sioux Indians. 
It was the year of the Sioux Indian massacre in Minnesota. 
After a continuous journey of upwards of eighteen weeks 
we reached Grasshopper creek near the head of the Mis- 
souri on the 23d day of October, with our supply of pro- 
visions nearly exhausted, and with cattle sore-footed and 
too much worn out to continue the journey. There we 
camped for the winter in the midst of the wilderness, 400 
miles from the nearest settlement or postoffice, from which 
we were separated by a region of mountainous country, ren- 
dered nearly impassable in the winter by deep snows, and 
beset for the entire distance by hostile Indians. Dishearten- 
ing as the prospect was, we felt that it would not do to give 
way to discouragement. A few venturesome prospectors 
from the west side of the Rocky Mountains had found gold 
in small quantities on the bars bordering the stream, and a 
few traders had followed in their wake with a limited supply 
of the bare necessaries of life, risking the dangers of Indian 
attack by the way to obtain large profits as a rightful re- 
ward for their temerity. Flour was worth 75 cents per 
pound in greenbacks, and prices of other commodities were 
in like proportion, and the placer unpromising; and many 
of the unemployed started out, some on foot, and some be- 
stride their worn-out animals, into the bleak mountain wil- 
derness, in search of gold. With the certainty of death in 
its most horrid form if they fell into the hands of a band of 
prowling Blackfeet Indians, and the thought uppermost in 
their minds that they could scarcely escape freezing, surely 
the hope which sustained this little band of wanderers 
lacked none of those grand elements which sustained the 

vi Introduction. 

early settlers of our country in their days of disaster and 
suffering. Men who cavil with Providence and attribute to 
luck or chance or accident the escape from massacre and 
starvation of a comi)any of destitute men, under circum- 
stances like these, are either wanting in gratitude or have 
never been overtaken by calamity. My recollection of those 
gloomy days is all the more vivid because I was among the 
indigent ones. 

This region was then the rendezvous of the Bannack In- 
dians, and we named the settlement "Bannack," not the 
Scotch name "Bannock," now often given to it. 

Montana was organized as a territory on the 26th day of 
May, 1864, and I continued to reside in that territory until 
the year 1876, being engaged chiefly in official business of 
a character which made it necessary, from time to time, 
for me to visit all portions of the territory. It is a 
beautiful country. Nature displays her wonders there 
upon the most magnificent scale. Lofty ranges of moun- 
tains, broad and fertile valleys, streams broken into tor- 
rents are the scenery of every-day life. These are rendered 
enjoyable by clear skies, pure atmosphere and invigorating 

Ever since the first year of my residence there I had fre- 
quently heard rumors of the existence of wonderful phe- 
nomena in the region where the Yellowstone, Wind, Snake 
and other large rivers take their rise, and as often had de- 
termined to improve the first opportunity to visit and ex- 
plore it, but had been deterred by the presence of unusual 
and insurmountable dangers. It was at that time inhabited 
only by wild beasts and roving bands of hostile Indians. An 
occasional trapper or old mountaineer were the only white 
persons who had ever seen even those portions of it nearest 
to civilization, previous to the visit of David E. Folsom 
and C. W. Cook in the year 1869. Of these some had seen 


Introduction. vii 

one, some another object of interest; but as they were all 
believed to be romancers their stories were received with 
great distrust. 

The old mountaineers of Montana were generally regarded 
as great fabricators. I have met with many, but never one 
who was not fond of practicing upon the credulity of those 
who listened to the recital of his adventures. James 
Bridger, the discoverer of Great Salt lake, who had a large 
experience in wild mountain life, wove so much of romance 
around his Indian adventures that his narrations were gen- 
erally received with many grains of allowance by his listen- 
ers. Probably no man ever had a more varied and inter- 
esting experience during a long period of sojourning on the 
western plains and in the Rocky Mountains than Bridger, 
and he did not hesitate, if a favorable occasion offered, to 
^'guy" the unsophisticated. At one time Avhen in camp near 
"Pumpkin Butte," a well-known landmark near Fort Lara- 
mie, rising a thousand feet or more above the surrounding 
plain, a young attache of the party approached Mr. Bridger, 
and in a rather patronizing manner said: "Mr. Bridger, 
they tell me that you have lived a long time on these plains 
and in the mountains." Mr. Bridger, pointing toward 
"Pumpkin Butte," replied: "Young man, you see that 
butte over there! Well, that mountain was a hole in the 
ground when I came here." 

Bridger's long sojourn in the Rocky Mountains com- 
menced as early as the year 1820, and in 1832 we find him a 
resident partner in the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. He 
frequently spent periods of time varying from three months 
to two years, so far removed from any settlement or trading 
post, that neither flour nor bread stuffs in any form could be 
obtained, the only available substitute for bread being the 
various roots found in the Rocky Mountain region. 

viii Introduction. 

I first became acquainted with Bridger in the year 1866. 
He was then employed by a wagon road company, of which 
I was president, to conduct the emigration from the states 
to Montana, by way of Fort Laramie, the Big Horn river 
and Emigrant gulch. He told me in Virginia City, Mont., 
at that time, of the existence of hot spouting springs in the 
vicinity of the source of the Yellowstone and Madison rivers, 
and said that he had seen a column of water as large as his 
body, spout as high as the flag pole in Virginia City, which 
was about sixty (60) feet high. The more I pondered 
upon this statement, the more I was impressed with the 
probability of its truth. If he had told me of the existence 
of falls one thousand feet high, I should have considered his 
story an exaggeration of a phenomenon he had really be- 
held; but I did not think that his imagination was suffi- 
ciently fertile to originate the story of the existence of a 
spouting geyser, unless he had really seen one, and I there- 
fore was inclined to give credence to his statement, and to 
believe that such a wonder did really exist. 

I w^as the more disposed to credit his statement, because 
of what I had previously read in the report of Captain John 
Mullan, made to the war department. From my present 
examination of that report, which was made Feb. 14, 1863, 
and a copy of which I still have in my possession, I find 
that Captain Mullan says: 

I learned from the Indians, and afterwards confirmed by 
my own explorations, the fact of the existence of an 
infinite number of hot springs at the headwaters of the 
Missouri, Columbia and Yellowstone rivers, and that hot 
geysers, similar to those of California, exist at the head of 
the Yellowstone. 

Again he speaks of the isochimenal line (a line of even 
winter temperature), which he says reaches from Fort Lara- 

» ^"' • 



mie to the headwaters of the Yellowstone, at the hot spring 
and geysers of that stream, and continues thence to the 
Beaver Head valley, and he adds : 

This is as true as it is strange, and shows unerringly that 
there exists in this zone an atmospheric river of heat, 
flowing through this region, varying in width from one to 
one hundred miles, according to the physical face of the 

As early as the year 1866 I first considered the possibility 
of organizing an expedition for the purpose of exploring the 
Upper Yellowstone to its source. The first move which I 
made looking to this end was in 1867 and the next in 1868 ; 
but these efforts ended in nothing more than a general dis- 
cussion of the subject of an exploration, the most potent 
factor in the abandonment of the enterprise being the threat- 
ened outbreaks of the Indians in Gallatin valley. 

The following year (1869) the project was again revived, 
and plans formed for an expedition ; but again the hostility 
of the Indians prevented the accomplishment of our pur- 
pose of exploration. Hon. David E. Folsom was enrolled as 
one of the members of this expedition, and when it was 
found that no large party could be organized, Mr. Folsom 
and his partner, C. W. Cook, and Mr. Peterson (a helper 
on the Folsom ranch), in the face of the threatened dangers 
from Indians, visited the Grand Canon, the falls of the Yel- 
lowstone and Yellowstone lake, and then turned in a north- 
westerly direction, emerging into the Lower Geyser basin, 
where they found a geyser in action, the water of which, 
says Mr. Folsom in his record of the expedition, "came rush- 
ing up and shot into the air at least eighty feet, causing us 
to stampede for higher ground." 

Mr. Folsom, in speaking of the various efforts made to 
organize an expedition for exploration of the Y'ellowstone 

X Introduction. 

In 18G7, an exploring expedition from Virginia City, 
Montana Territory, was talked of, but for some unknown 
reason, probably for the want of a sufficient number to 
engage in it, it was abandoned. The next year another was 
planned, which ended like the first — in talk. Early in the 
summer of 1860 the newspapers throughout the Territory 
announced that a party of citizens from Helena, Virginia 
City and Bozeman, accompanied by some of the officers 
stationed at Fort Ellis, with an escort of soldiers, would 
leave Bozeman about the fifth of September for the Yel- 
lowstone country, with the intention of making a through 
examination of all the wonders w^ith which the region was 
said to abound. The party was expected to be limited in 
numbers and to be composed of some of the most prominent 
men in the Territory, and the writer felt extremely flat- 
tered when his earnest request to have his name added to 
the list was granted. He joined with two personal friends 
in getting an outfit, and then waited patiently for the other 
members of the party to perfect their arrangements. About 
a month before the day fixed for starting, some of the 
members began to discover that pressing business engage- 
ments would prevent their going. Then came news from 
Fort Ellis that, owing to some changes made in the dis- 
position of troops stationed in the Territory, the military 
portion of the party would be unable to join the expedi- 
tion; and our party, which had now dwindled down to ten 
or twelve persons, thinking it would be unsafe for so small 
a number to venture where there was a strong probability 
of meeting with hostile Indians, also abandoned the under- 
taking. But the writer and his two friends before men- 
tioned, believing that the dangers to be encountered had 
been magnified, and trusting by vigilance and good luck to 
avoid them, resolved to attempt the journey at all hazards. 

We provided ourselves with five horses — three of them 
for the saddle, and the other two for carrying our cooking 
utensils, ammunition, fishing tackle, blankets and buffalo 
robes, a pick, and a pan, a shovel, an axe, and provisions 
necessary for a six weeks' trip. We were all well armed 
with repeating rifles, Colt's six-shooters and sheath-knives. 


Introduction. xi 

and had besides a double barreled shotgun for small game. 
We also had a good field glass, a pocket compass and a 

Mr. Folsom followed the Yellowstone to the lake and 
crossed over to the Firehole, which he followed up as far 
as Che Excelsior geyser (not then named), but did not visit 
the Upper Geyser basin. On his return to Helena he related 
to a few of his intimate friends many of the incidents of his 
journey, and Mr. Samuel T. Hauser and I invited him to 
meet a number of the citizens of Helena at the directors' 
room of the First National Bank in Helena ; but on assem- 
bling there were so many present who were unknown to Mr. 
Folsom that he was unwilling to risk his reputation for ver- 
acity, by a full recital, in the presence of strangers, of the 
wonders he had seen. He said that he did not wish to be 
regarded as a liar by those who were unacquainted with his 
reputation. But the accounts which he gave to Hauser 
Gillette and myself renewed in us our determination to visit 
that region during the following year. Mr. Folsom, how- 
ever, sent to the Western Monthly of Chicago a carefully 
prepared account of his expedition, which that magazine 
published in July, 1870, after cutting out some of the most 
interesting portions of the story, thus destroying in some 
measure the continuity of the narrative. The office of the 
Western Monthly was destroyed by fire before the copies 
of the magazine containing Mr. Folsom's article were dis- 
tributed, and the single copy which Mr. Folsom possessed 
and which he presented to the Historical Society of Montana 
met a like fate in the great Helena fire. The copy which I 
possessed and which I afterwards presented to that Society 
is doubtless the only original copy now in existence; and, 
for the purpose of preserving the history of the initial step 
which eventuated in the creation of the Yellowstone 

xii Introduction. 

National Park, I re-published, in the year 1894, 500 copies 
of Mr. Folsom's narrative, for distribution among those 
most interested in that exploration. 

In the spring of 1870, while in St. Paul, I had an inter- 
view with Major General Winfield S. Hancock, during 
which he showed great interest in the plan of exploration 
which I outlined to him, and expressed a desire to obtain 
additional information concerning the Yellowstone country 
which would be of service to him in the disposition of troops 
for frontier defense, and he assured me that, unless some 
unforeseen exigency prevented, he would, when the time ar- 
rived, give a favorable response to our application for a 
military escort, if one were needed. Mr. Hauser also had a 
conference with General Hancock about the same time, and 
received from him like assurances. 

About the 1st of August, 1870, our plans took definite 
shape, and some twenty men were enrolled as members of 
the exploring party. About this time the Crow Indians 
again "broke loose," and a raid of the Gallatin and Yellow- 
stone valleys was threatened, and a majority of those who 
had enrolled their names, experiencing that decline of cour- 
age so aptly illustrated by Bob Acres, suddenly found excuse 
for withdrawal in various emergent occupations. 

After a few days of suspense and doubt, Samuel T. Hauser 
told me that if he could find two men whom he knew, who 
would accompany him, he would attempt the journey ; and 
he asked me to join him in a letter to James Stuart, living 
at Deer Lodge, proposing that he should go with us. Ben- 
jamin Stickney, one of the most enthusiastic of our num- 
ber, also wrote to Mr. Stuart that there were eight persons 
who would go at all hazards and asked him (Stuart) to be 
a member of the party. Stuart replied to Hauser and my- 
self as follows: 

Introduction. xiii 

Deer Lodge City, M. T., Aug. 9th, 1870. 
Dear Sam and Langford: 

Stickney wrote me that the Yellow Stone party had 
dwindled down to eight persons. That is not enough to 
stand guard, and I won't go into that country without hav- 
ing a guard every night. From present news it is probable 
that the Crows will be scattered on all the headwaters of 
the Yellow Stone, and if that is the case, they would not 
want any better fun than to clean up a party of eight (that 
does not stand guard) and say that the Sioux did it, as they 
said when they went through us on the Big Horn. It will 
not be safe to go into that country with less than fifteen 
men, and not very safe with that number. I would like it 
better if it was fight from the start; we would then kill 
every Crow that we saw, and take the chances of their 
rubbing us out. As it is, we will have to let them alone 
until they will get the best of us by stealing our horses or 
killing some of us; then we will be so crippled that we 
can't do them any damage. 

At the commencement of this letter I said I would not 
go unless the party stood guard. I will take that back, for 

I am just d d fool enough to go anywhere that anybody 

else is willing to go, only I want it understood that very 
likely some of us will lose our hair. I will be on hand Sun- 
day evening, unless I hear that the trip is postponed. 

Fraternallv yours, 


Since writing the above, I have received a telegram say- 
ing, "twelve of us going certain." Glad to hear it — the 
more the better. Will bring two pack horses and one pack 

I have preserved this letter of James Stuart for the thirty- 
five years since it was received. It was written with a 
lead pencil on both sides of a sheet of paper, and I insert 
here a photograph of a half-tone reproduction of it. It has 
become somewhat illegible and obscure from repeated fold- 
ing and unfolding. 



Introduction. xv 

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Mr. Stuart was a man of large experience in such enter- 
prises as that in which we were about to engage, and was 
familiar with all the tricks of Indian craft and sagacity; 
and our subsequent experience in meeting the Indians on 
the second day of our journey after leaving Fort Ellis, and 
their evident hostile intentions, justified in the fullest de- 
gree Stuart's apprehensions. 

About this time Gen. Henry D. Washburn, the surveyor 
general of Montana, joined with Mr. Hauser in a telegram 
to General Hancock, at St. Paul, requesting him to provide 
the promised escort of a company of cavalry. General Han- 
cock immediately responded, and on August 14th tele- 
graphed an order on the commandant at Fort Ellis, near 

xvi Introduction. 

Bozeman, for such escort as would be deemed necessary to 
iusure the safety of our party. 

Just at this critical time I received a letter from Stuart 
announcing that he had been drawn as a juryman to serve 
at the term of court then about to open, and that as the 
federal judge declined to excuse him, he would not be able 
to join our party. This was a sore and discouraging dis- 
appointment both to Hauser and myself, for we felt that in 
case we had trouble with the Indians Stuart's services to the 
party would be worth those of half a dozen ordinary men. 

A new roster was made up, and I question if there was 
ever a body of men organized for an exploring expedition, 
more intelligent or more keenly alive to the risks to be en- 
countered than those then enrolled; and it seems proper 
that I here speak more specifically of them. 

Gen. Henry D. Washburn was the surveyor general of 
Montana and had been brevetted a major general for serv- 
ices in the Civil War, and had served two terms in the Con- 
gress of the United States. Judge Cornelius Hedges was a 
distinguished and highly esteemed member of the Montana 
bar. Samuel T. Hauser was a civil engineer, and was presi- 
dent of the First National Bank of Helena. He was after- 
wards appointed governor of Montana by Grover Cleveland. 
Warren C. Gillette and Benjamin Stickney were pioneer 
merchants in Montana. Walter Trumbull was assistant as- 
sessor of internal revenue, and a" son of United States Sen- 
ator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois. Truman C. Everts was 
assessor of internal revenue for Montana, and Nathaniel P. 
Langford (the writer) had been for nearly five years the 
United States collector of internal revenue for Montana, 
and had been appointed governor of Montana by Andrew 
Johnson, but, owing to the imbroglio of the Senate with 
Johnson, his appointment was not confirmed. 

Introduction. xvii 

While we were disappointed in our expectation of having 
James Stuart for our commander and adviser, General 
Washburn was chosen captain of the party, and Mr. Stick- 
ney was appointed commissary and instructed to put up in 
proper form a supply of provisions sufficient for thirty (30) 
days, though we had contemplated a limit of twenty-five 
(25) days for our absence. Each man promptly paid to 
Mr. Stickney his share of the estimated expense. When all 
these preparations had been made, Jake Smith requested 
permission to be enrolled as a member of our company. 
Jake was constitutionally unfitted to be a member of such 
a party of exploration, where vigilance and alertness were 
essential to safety and success. He was too inconsequent 
and easy going to command our confidence or to be of much 
assistance. He seemed to think that his good-natured non- 
sense would always be a passport to favor and be accepted 
in the stead of real service, and in my association with him 
I was frequently reminded of the youth who announced in 
a newspaper advertisement that he was a poor but pious 
young man, who desired board in a family where there were 
small children, and where his Christian example would be 
considered a sufficient compensation. Jake did not share 
the view of the other members of our company, that in 
standing guard, the sentry should resist his inclination to 
slumber. Mr. Hedges, in his diary, published in Volume V. 
of the Montana Historical Society publications, on Septem- 
ber 13th, thus records an instance of insubordination in 
standing guard : 

- Jake made a fuss about his turn, and Washburn stood 
in his place. 

Now that this and like incidents of our journey are in the 
dlm*past, let us inscribe for his epitaph what was his own 

xviii Introduction. 

adopted motto while doing guard dutv when menaced by the 
Indians on the Yellowstone: 


Of our number, five — General Washburn, Walter Trum- 
bull, Truman C. Everts, Jacob Smith and Lieutenant Doane 
— have died. The five members now surviving are Cornelius 
Hedges, Samuel T. Hauser, Warren C. Gillette, Benjamin 
Stickney and myself. 

I have not been able to ascertain the date of death of 
either Walter Trumbull or Jacob Smith. Lieutenant Doane 
died at Bozeman, Montana, May 5, 1892. His report to the 
War Department of our exploration is a classic. Major 
Chittenden says: 

His fine descriptions have never been surpassed by any 
subsequent writer. Although suffering intense physical tor- 
ture during the greater portion of the trip, it did not ex- 
tinguish in him the truly poetic ardor with which those 
strange phenomena seem to have inspired him. 

Dr. Hayden, who first visited this region the year follow- 
ing that of our exploration, says of Lieutenant Doane's 
report : 

I venture to state as my opinion, that for graphic de- 
scription and thrilling interest, it has not been surpassed 
by any official report made to our government since the 
times of Lewis and Clark. 

Mr. Everts died at Hyattsville, Md., on the IGth day of 
February, 1901, at the age of eighty-five, survived by his 
daughter, Elizabeth Everts Verrill, and a young widow, and 
also a son nine years old, born when Everts was seventy-six 
years of age, — a living monument to bear testimony to 
that physical vigor and vitality which carried him through 
the "Thirty-seven days of peril," when he was lost from 

Introduction. xix 

our party in the dense forest on the southwest shore of 
Yellowstone lake. 

General Washburn died on January 26, 1871, his death 
being doubtless hastened by the hardships and exposures 
of our journey, from which many of our party suffered in 
greater or less degree. 

In an eloquent eulogistic address delivered in Helena 
January 29, 1871, Judge Cornelius Hedges said concerning 
the naming of Mount Washburn : 

On the west bank of the Yellowstone, between Tower Fall 
and Hell-broth springs, opposite the profoundest chasm 
of that marvelous river canon, a mighty sentinel overlook- 
ing that region of wonders, rises in its serene and solitary 
grandeur, — Mount Washburn, — pointing the way his en- 
franchised spirit was so soon to soar. He was the first to 
climb its bare, bald summit, and thence reported to us the 
welcome news that he saw the beautiful lake that had been 
the proposed object of our journey. By unanimous voice, 
unsolicited by him, we gave the mountain a name that 
through coming years shall bear onward the memory of 
our gallant, generous leader. How little we then thought 
that he would be. the first to live only in memory. * * * 
The deep forests of evergreen pine that embosom that lake 
shall typify the ever green spot in our memory where shall 
cluster the pleasant recollections of our varied experiences 
on that expedition. 

The question is frequently asked, "Who originated the 
plan of setting apart this region as a National Park?" I 
answer that Judge Cornelius Hedges of Helena wrote the 
first articles ever published by the press urging the dedica- 
cation of this region as a park. The Helena Herald of Nov. 
9, 1870, contains a letter of Mr. Hedges, in which he advo- 
cated the scheme, and in my lectures delivered in Washing- 
ton and New York in January, 1871, I directed attention to 
Mr. Hedges' suggestion, and urged the passage by Congress 

XX Introduction. * 

of an act setting apart that region as a public park. All 
this was several months prior to the first exploration by the 
U. S. Geological Survey, in charge of Dr. Hayden. The sug- 
gestion that the region should be made into a National Park 
was first broached to the members of our party on Sep- 
tember 19, 1870, by Mr. Hedges, while we were in camp at 
the confluence of the Firehole and Gibbon rivers, as is re- 
lated in this diary. After the return home of our party, I 
was informed by General Washburn that on the eve of the 
departure of our expedition from Helena, David E. Folsom 
had suggested to him the desirability of creating a park 
at the grand cailon and falls of the Yellowstone. This fact 
w^as unknown to Mr. Hedges, — and. the boundary lines of 
the proposed park were extended by him so as to be com- 
mensurate with the wider range of our explorations. 

The bill for the creation of the park was introduced in the 
House of Representatives by Hon. William H. Clagett, dele- 
gate from Montana Territory. On July 9, 1894, William 
R. Marshall, Secretary of the Minnesota Historical Society, 
wrote to Mr. Clagett, asking him the question: *^Who are 
entitled to the principal credit for the passage of the act of 
Congress establishing the Yellowstone National Park?'' Mr. 
Clagett replied as follows : 

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, July 14th, 1894. 
Wm. R. Marshall, 

Secretary Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minn. 
Dear Sir: Your favor of July 9th is just received. I 
am glad that you have called my attention to the ques- 
tion, "Who are entitled to the principal credit for the pass- 
age of the act of Congress establishing the Yellowstone 
National Park?" The history of that measure, as far as 
known to me, is as follows, to-wit: In the fall of 1870, 
soon after the return of the Washburn-Langford party, 
two printers at Deer Lodge City, Montana, went into the 
Firehole basin and cut a large number of poles, intending 

de^it. i&r^ 

Introduction. xxi 

to come back the next summer and fence in the tract of 
land containing the principal geysers, and hold posses- 
sion for speculative purposes, as the Hutchins family so 
long held the Yosemite valley. One of these men was 
named Harry Norton. He subsequently wrote a book on 
the park. The other one was named Brown. He now 
lives in Spokane, Wash., and both of them in the summer 
of 1871 worked in the New Northwest office at Deer Lodge. 
When I learned from them in the late fall of 1870 or 
spring of 1871 what they intended to do, I remonstrated 
with them and stated that from the description given by 
them and by members of Mr. Langford's party, the whole 
region should be made into a National Park and no pri- 
vate proprietorship be allowed. 

I w^as elected Delegate to Congress from Montana in 
August, 1871, and after the election, Nathaniel P. Lang- 
ford, Cornelius Hedges and myself had a consultation in 
Helena, and agreed that every effort should be made to 
establish the Park as soon as possible, and before any per- 
son had got a serious foothold — Mr. McCartney, at the 
Mammoth Hot Springs, being the only one who at that time 
had any improvements made. In December, 1871, Mr. Lang- 
ford came to Washington and remained there for some 
time, and we two counseled together about the Park proj- 
ect. I drew the bill to establish the Park, and never knew 
Professor Hayden in connection with that bill, except that 
I requested Mr. Langford to get from him a description of 
the boundaries of the proposed Park. There was some 
delay in getting the description, and my recollection is 
that Langford brought me the description after consulta- 
tion with Professor Hayden. I then filled the blank in the 
bill with the description, and the bill passed both Houses 
of Congress just as it was drawn and without any change 
or amendment whatsoever. 

After the bill was drawn, Langford stated to me that 
Senator Pomeroy of Kansas was very anxious to havp the 
honor of introducing the bill in the Senate; and as he 
(Pomeroy) was the chairman of the Senate committee on 
Public Lands, in order to facilitate its passage, I had a 
clean copy made of the bill and on the first call day in the 

xxii Introduction. 

House, introduced the original there, and then went over 
to the Senate Chamber and handed the copy to Senator 
Pomeroy, who immediately introduced it in the Senate. 
The bill passed the Senate first and came to the House, 
and passed the House without amendment, at a time when 
I happened to be at the other end of the Capitol, and hence 
I was not present when it actually passed the House. 

Since the passage of this bill there have been so many 
men who have claimed the exclusive credit for its pass- 
age, that I have lived for twenty years, suffering from a 
chronic feeling of disgust whenever the subject was men- 
tioned. So far as my personal knowledge goes, the first 
idea of making it a public park occurred to myself; but 
from information received from Langford and others, it 
has always been my opinion that Hedges, Langford, and 
myself formed the same idea about the same time, and 
we all three acted together in Montana, and afterwards 
Langford and I acted with Professor Hayden in Washing- 
ton, in the winter of 1871-2. 

The fact is that the matter was well under way before 
Professor Hayden was ever heard of in connection with 
that measure. When he returned to Washington in 1871, 
he brought with him a large number of specimens from 
different parts of the Park, which were on exhibition in 
one of the rooms of the Capitol or in the Smithsonian In- 
stitute (one or the other), while Congress was in session, 
and he rendered valuable services in exhibiting these speci- 
mens and explaining the geological and other features of 
the proposed Park, and between him, Langford and my- 
self, I believe there was not a single member of Congress 
in either House who was not fully posted by one or the 
other of us in personal interviews; so much so, that the 
bill practically passed both Houses without objection. 

It has always been a pleasure to me to give to Professor 
Hayden and to Senator Pomeroy, and Mr. Dawes of Mass. 
all of the credit which they deserve in connection with 
the passage of that measure, but the truth of the matter 
is that the origin of the movement which created the Park 
was with Hedges, Langford and myself; and after Con- 

Introduction. xxiii 

gress met, Langford and I probably did two-thirds, if not 
three-fourths of all the work connected with its passage. 

I think that the foregoing letter contains a full state- 
ment of what yoa wish, and I hope that you will be able 
to correct, at least to some extent, the misconceptions 
which the selfish vanity of some people has occasioned on 
the subject. Very truly yours, 

(^ #; mf^ 

It is true that Professor Hayden joined with Mr. Clagett 
and myself in working for the passage of the act of dedica- 
tion, but no person can divide with Cornelius Hedges and 
David E. Folsom the honor of originating the idea of creating 
the Yellowstone Park. 

By direction of Major Hiram M. Chittenden there has 
been erected at the junction of the Firehole and Gibbon 
rivers a large slab upon which is inscribed the following 
legend : 



Gibbon and Firehole Rivers, 
Forming the Madison Fork of the Missouri. 

On the point of land between the tributary streams, 
September 19, 1870, the celebrated Washburn Expedi- 
tion, which first made known to the world the won- 
ders OF THE Yellowstone, was encamped, and here was 
first suggested the idea of setting apart this region 
AS A National Park. 

On the south bank of the Madison, just below the junc- 
tion of these two streams, and overlooking this memorable 
camping ground, is a lofty escarpment to which has ap- 

xxiv Introduction. 

propriately been given the name "National Park moun- 

I take occasion here to refer to mv personal connection 
with the Park. Upon the passage by Congress, on March 
1, 1872, of the act of dedication, I was appointed superin- 
tendent of the Park. I discharged the duties of the office 
for more than five years, without compensation of any kind, 
and paying my own expenses. Soon after the creation of 
the Park the Secretary of the Interior received many appli- 
cations for leases to run for a long term of years, of tracts 
of land in the vicinity of the principal marvels of that re- 
gion, &uch as the Grand Canon and Falls, the Upper Geyser 
basin, etc. These applications were invariably referred to 
me by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Hon. B. R. 
Cowen. It was apparent from an examination of these ap- 
plications that the purpose of the applicants was to enclose 
with fences their holdings, and charge visitors an admission 
fee. To have permitted this would have defeated the pur- 
pose of the act of dedication. In many instances the appli- 
cants made earnest pleas, both personally and through their 
members in Congress, to the Interior Department and to 
myself for an approval of their applications, offering to 
speedily make improvements of a value ranging from |100,- 
000 to 1500,000. I invariably reported unfavorably upon 
these alluring propositions, and in no instance was my rec- 
ommendation overruled by Secretary Cowen, to whom Sec- 
retary Delano had given the charge of the whole matter, 
and to Judge Cowen's firmness in resisting the political and 
other influences that were brought to bear is largely due the 
fact that these early applications for concessions were not 
granted. A time should never come when the American 
people will have forgotten the services, a generation ago, 
of Judge Cowen, in resisting the designs of unscrupulous 
men in their efforts to secure possession of the most impor- 


Introduction. xxv 

tant localities in the Park, nor the later services of George 
Bird Grinnell, William Hallett Thillips and U. S. Senator 
George Graham Vest, in the preservation of the wild game 
of the Park and of the Park itself from the more determined 
encroachments of private greed. 

The second year of my services as superintendent, some of 
my friends in Congress proposed to give me a salary suflS- 
ciently large to pay actual expenses. I requested them to 
make no effort in this behalf, saying that I feared that some 
successful applicant for such a salaried position, giving lit- 
tle thought to the matter, would approve the applications 
for leases; and that as long as I could prevent the granting 
of any exclusive concessions I would be willing to serve as 
superintendent without compensation. 

Apropos of my official connection with the Park a third 
of a century ago, is the following letter to me, written by 
George Bird Grinnell. This personal tribute from one who 
himself has done so much in behalf of the Park was very 
gratifying to me. 

New York, April 29th, 1903. 
Mr. N, P. Lang ford St» Paul, Minn., 

Dear Sir : I am glad to read the newspaper cutting from 
•the Pioneer Press of April 19th, which you so kindly sent me. 

In these daj^s of hurry and bustle, when events of impor- 
tance crowd so fast on each other that the memory of each 
is necessarily short lived, it is gratifying to be reminded 
from time to time of important services rendered to the na- 
tion in a past which, though really recent, seems to the 
younger generation far away. 

The service which you performed for the United States, 
and indeed for the world, in describing the Yellowstone 
Park, and in setting on foot and persistently advocating the 
plan to make it a national pleasure ground, will always be 
remembered; and it is well that public acknowledgment 

xxvi Introduction. 

should be made of it occasionally, so that the men of this 
generation may not forget what they owe to those of the 

Yours yery truly, 


The Act of Congress creating the Park proyided that this 
region should be "set apart for a public park or pleasuring 
ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people," but 
this end has not been accomplished except as the result of 
untiring yigilance and labor on the part of a yery few per- 
sons who haye neyer wayered in their loyalty to the Park. 
It may never be known how nearly the purposes of the Act 
of Dedication haye escaped defeat; but a letter written to 
me by George Bird Grinnell and an editorial from Forest 
and Stream may reyeal to visitors who now enjoy without let 
or hindrance the wonders of that region, how narrowly this 
"Temple of the living God," as it has been termed, has es- 
caped desecration at the hands of avaricious money-getters, 
and becoming a "Den of Thieves." 

New York, July 25, 1905. 
Mr. N. P. Langford, 

Dear Sir: I am very glad that your diary is to be pub- 
lished. It is something that 1 have long hoped that we 
might see. 

It is true, as you say, that 1 have for a good many years 
done what I could toward protecting the game in the Yel- 
lowstone Park ; but what seems to me more important than 
that is that Forest and Stream for a dozen years carried on, 
almost single handed, a fight for the integrity of the National 
Park. If you remember, all through from 1881 or there- 
abouts to 1890 continued eft'orts were being made to gain 
control of the park by one syndicate and another, or to run 
<i railroad through it, or to put an elevator down the side 
of the canon — in short, to use this public pleasure ground 
as a means for private gain. There were half a dozen of us 
who, being very enthusiastic about the park, and, being in a 
position to watch legislation at Washington, and also to 

I— ( 







Introduction. xxvii 

know what was going on in the Interior Department, kept 
ourselves very much alive to the situation and succeeded in 
choking off half a dozen of these projects before they grew 
large enough to be made public. 

One of these men was William Hallett Phillips, a dear 
friend of mine, a resident of Washington, a Supreme Court 
lawyer with a large acquaintance there, and a delightful 
fellow. He was the best co-worker that any one could have 
had who wanted to keep things straight and as they ought 
to be. 

At rare intervals I get out old volumes of the Forest and 
Stream and look over the editorials written in those days 
with a mingling of amusement and sadness as I recall how 
excited we used to get, and think of the true fellows who 
used to help, but who have since crossed over to the other 

Yours sincerely, 


From Forest and Stream, August 20, 1904. 


In no one of all the editorials and obituaries written last 
week on the death of Senator Vest did we see mention made 
of one great service performed by him for the American peo- 
ple, and for which they and their descendants should always 
remember him. It is a bit of ancient history now, and 
largely forgotten by all except those who took an active part 
in the fight. More than twenty years ago strong efforts were 
made by a private corporation to secure a monopoly of the 
Yellowstone National Park by obtaining from the govern- 
ment, contracts giving them exclusive privileges within the 
Park. This corporation secured an agreement from the In- 
terior Department by which six different plots in the Yel- 
lowstone Park, each one covering about one section of land — 
a square mile — were to be leased to it for a period of ten 
years. It was also to have a monopoly of hotel, stage and 
telegraph rights, and there was a privilege of renewal of the 
concession at the end of the ten years. The rate to be paid 
for the concession was |2 an acre. 

xxviii Introduction. 

When the question of this lease came before Congress, it 
was referred to a sub-committee of the Committee on Terri- 
tories, of which Senator Vest was chairman. He investi- 
gated the question, and in the report made on it used these 
words: "Nothing but absolute necessity, however, should 
permit the Great National Park to be used for money-mak- 
ing by private persons, and, in our judgment, no such neces- 
sity exists. The purpose to which this region, matchless in 
wonders and grandeur, was dedicated — ^a public park and a 
pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the peo- 
ple' — is worthy the highest patriotism and statesmanship." 

The persons interested in this lease came from many sec- 
tions of the country, and were ably represented by active 
agents in Washington. The pressure brought to bear on 
Congress was very great, and the more effectively applied, 
since few men knew much about conditions in the Yellow- 
stone Park, or even where the Yellowstone Park was. But 
pressure and influence could not move Senator Vest when 
he knew he was right. He stood like a rock in Congress, re- 
sisting this pressure, making a noble fight in behalf of the 
interests of the people, and at last winning his battle. For 
years the issue seemed doubtful, and for years it was true 
that the sole hope of those who were devoted to the inter- 
ests of the Park, and who were fighting the battle of the pub- 
lic, lay in Senator Vest. So after years of struggle the right 
triumphed, and the contract intended to be made between 
the Interior Department and the corporation was never con- 

This long fight made evident the dangers to which the 
Park was exposed, and showed the necessity of additional 

A bill to protect the Park was drawn by Senator Vest and 
passed by Congress, and from that time on, until the day 
of his retirement from public life. Senator Vest was ever a 
firm and watchful guardian of the Yellowstone National 
Park, showing in this matter, as in many others, "the high- 
est patriotism and statesmanship." For many years, from 
1882 to 1894, Senator Vest remained the chief defender of a 
National possession that self-seeking persons in many parts 
of the country were trying to use for their own profit. 

"^ .%cLe£eZC-iPii^^^'2^ 


Introduction. xxix 

If we were asked to mention the two men who did more 
than any other two men to save the National Park for the 
American people, we should name George Graham Vest and 
William Hallett Phillips, co-workers in this good cause. 
There were other men who helped them, but these two easily 
stand foremost. ****** 

In the light of the present glorious development of the 
Park it can be said of each one who has taken part in the 
work of preserving for all time this great national pleasur- 
ing ground for the enjoyment of the American people, "He 
builded better than he knew,'' 

An amusing feature of the identity of my name with the 
Park was that my friends, with a play upon my initials, 
frequently addressed letters to me in the following style: 

The fame of the Yellowstone National Park, combining 
the most extensive aggregation of wonders in the world — 
wonders unexcelled because nowhere else existing — is now 
world-wide. The "Wonderland" publications issued by the 
Northern Pacific Railway, prepared under the careful su- 
pervision of their author, Olin D. Wheeler, with their su- 
perb illustrations of the natural scenery of the park, and 
the illustrated volume, "The Yellowstone," by Major Hiram 
M. Chittenden, U. S. Engineers, under whose direction the 
roads and bridges throughout the Park are being construct- 

XXX Introduction. 

ed, have so confirmed the first accounts of these wonders 
that there remains now little of the incredulity with which 
the narrations of the members of our company were first 
received. The articles written by me on my return from 
the trip described in this diary, and published in Scribner's 
(now Century) Magazine for May and June, 1871, were re- 
garded more as the amiable exaggerations of an enthusi- 
astic Munchausen, who is disposed to tell the whole truth, 
and as much more as is necessary to make an undoubted 
sensation, than as the story of a sober, matter-of-fact ob- 
server who tells what he has seen with his own eyes, and 
exaggerates nothing. Dr. Holland, one of the editors of 
that magazine, sent to me a number of uncomplimentary 
criticisms of my article. One reviewer said: "This Lang- 
ford must be the champion liar of the Northwest." Rest- 
ing for a time under this imputation, I confess to a feeling 
of satisfaction in reading from a published letter, written 
later in the summer of 1871 from the Upper Geyser basin 
^j a member of the U. S. Geological Survey, the words: 
"Langford did not dare tell one-half of what he saw." 

Mr. Charles T. Whitmell, of Cardiff, Wales, a distin- 
guished scholar and astronomer, w^ho has done much to 
bring to the notice of our English brothers the wonders of 
the Park — which he visited in 1883 — in a lecture delivered 
before the Cardiff Naturalists' Society on Nov. 12, 1885, 
sought to impress upon the minds of his audience the full 
significance of the above characterization. He said : "This 
quite unique description means a great deal, I can assure 
you ; for Western American lying is not to be measured by 
any of our puny European standards of untruthfulness." 

But the writings of Wheeler and others, running through 
a long series of years and covering an extended range of new 
discoveries, have vindicated the truthfulness of the early 
explorers, and even the stories of Bridger are not now re- 

Introduction. xxxi 

garded as exaggerations, and we no longer write for his 

Here LIES Bridger. 

As I recall the events of this exploration, made thirty-five 
years ago, it is a pleasure to bear testimony that there was 
never a more unselfish or generous company of men asso- 
ciated for such an expedition; and, notwithstanding the 
importance of our discoveries, in the honor of which each 
desired to have his just share, there was absolutely neither 
jealousy nor ungenerous rivalrj^ and the various magazine 
and newspaper articles first published clearly show how the 
members of our party were "In honor preferring one an- 

In reviewing my diary, preparatory to its publication, I 
have occasionally eliminated an expression that seemed to be 
too personal, — a sprinkling of pepper from the caster of 
my impatience, — and I have also here and there added 
an explanatory annotation or illustration. With this excep- 
tion I here present the original notes just as they were 
penned under the inspiration of the overwhelming wonders 
which everywhere revealed themselves to our astonished 
vision ; and as I again review and read the entries made in 
the field and around the campfire, in the journal that for 
nearly thirty years has been lost to my sight, I feel all the 
thrilling sensations of my first impressions, and with them 
is mingled the deep regret that our beloved Washburn did 
not live to see the triumphant accomplishment of what was 
dear to his heart, the setting apart at the headwaters of the 
Yellowstone, of a National ^^public park or pleasuring 
ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." 


St. Paul, Minn., August 9, 1905. 

^Ae f^^jUiyl/i^o/i<- 


Wednesday, August 17, 1870. — ^In accordance with the ar- 
rangements made last night, the different members of our 
party met at the agreed rendezvous — the office of General 
Washburn — at 9 o'clock a. m., to complete our arrange- 
ments for the journey and get under way. Our party con- 
sisted of Gen. Henry D. Washburn, Cornelius Hedges, Sam- 
uel T. Hauser, Warren C. Gillette, Benjamin Stickney, Tru- 
man C. Everts, Walter Trumbull, Jacob Smith and Nathan- 
iel P. Langford. General Washburn has been chosen the 

leader of our party. For assistants we have Mr. 

Reynolds and Elwyn Bean, western slope packers, and two 
African boys as cooks. Each man has a saddle horse fully 
rigged with California saddle, cantinas, holsters, etc., and 
has furnished a pack horse for transportation of provisions, 
ammunition and blankets. There are but few of our party 
who are adepts in the art of packing, for verily it is an art 
acquired by long practice, and we look with admiration upon 
our packers as they "throw the rope" with such precision, 
and with great skill and rapidity tighten the cinch and gird 
the load securely upon the back of the broncho. Our ponies 
have not all been tried of late with the pack saddle, but most 

2 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

of them quietl}' submit to the loading. But now comes one 
that does not yield itself to the manipulations of the packer. 
He stands quiet till the pack saddle is adjusted, but the mo- 
ment he feels the tightening of the cinch he asserts his inde- 
pendence of all restraint and commences bucking. This ani- 



mal in question belongs to Gillette, who says that if he does 
not stand the pack he will use him for a saddle horse. If 
so, God save Gillette ! 

Thursday, August 18. — T rode on ahead of the party from 
Mr. HartzelPs ranch, stopping at Radersburg for dinner and 
riding through a snow storm to Gallatin City, where I re- 
mained over night with Major Campbell. General Wash- 
burn thought that it would be well for some members of tlKv 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 3 

company to have a conference, as early as possible, with the 
commanding officer at Fort Ellis, concerning an escort of sol- 
diers. I also desired to confer with some of the members of 
the Bozeman Masonic Lodge concerning the lodge troubles; 
and it was for these reasons that I rode on to Bozeman in 
advance of the party. 


Prickly Pear Valley. 

Friday, August 19. — Rode over to the East Gallatin river 
with Lieutenants Batchelor and Wright, crossing at Blake- 
ley's bridge and reaching Bozeman at 7 o'clock p. m. 

Saturday, August 20. — Spent the day at Bozeman and at 
Fort Ellis. I met the commanding officer, Major Baker, of 
the Second U. S. Cavalry, who informs me that nearly all 
the men of his command are in the field fiarhtino: the Indians. 

4 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

I informed him that we had an order for an escort of sol-* 
diers, and he said that the garrison was so weakened that he 
could not spare more than half a dozen men. I told him 
that six men added to our own roster would enable us to do 
good guard duty. The rest of the party and the pack train 
came into Bozeman at night 

This evening I visited Gallatin Lodge No. 6, and after a 
full consultation with its principal officers and members, I 
reluctantly decided to exercise my prerogative as Grand 
Master and arrest the charter of the lodge as the only 
means of bringing to a close a grievous state of dissension. 
In justice to my own convictions of duty, I could not have 
adopted any milder remedy than the one I applied. 

Sunday, August 21. — We moved into camp about one-half 
mile from Fort Ellis on the East Gallatin. General Wash- 
burn presented the order of Major General Hancock (recom- 
mended by General Baird, Inspector General, as an impor- 
tant military necessity) for an escort. Major Baker re- 
peated what he said to me yesterday, and he will detail for 
our service five soldiers under the command of a lieutenant, 
and we are satisfied. General Lester Willson entertained us 
at a bounteous supper last night. His wife is a charming 

Monday, August 22.— We left Fort Ellis at 11 o'clock this 
forenoon with an escort consisting of five men under com- 
mand of Lieut. Gustavus C. Doane of the Second U. S. 
Cavalry. Lieutenant Doane has kindly allowed me to copy 
the special order detailing him for this service. It is as fol- 
lows : 

Headquarters Fort Ellis, Montana Territory, 

August 21, 1870. 

In accordance with instructions from Headquarters Dis- 
trict of Montana, Lieutenant G. C. Doane, Second Cavalry, 
will proceed with one sergeant and four privates of Com- 
pany F. Second Cavalry, to escort the Surveyor General of 


Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 5 

Montana to the falls and lakes of the Yellowstone, and 
return. They will be supplied with thirty days' rations, 
and one hundred rounds of ammunition per man. The 
acting assistant quarter-master will furnish them with the 
necessary transportation. 

By order of Major Baker. 

J. G. MacADAMS, 
First Lieutenant Second Cavalry. 

Acting Post Adjutant. 

The names of the soldiers are Sergeant William Baker and 
Privates John Williamson, George W. McConnell, William 
Leipler and Charles Moore. This number, added to our own 
company of nine, will give us fourteen men for guard duty, 
a sufficient number to maintain a guard of two at all times, 
with two reliefs each night, each man serving half of a night 
twice each week. Our entire number, including the packers 
and cooks, is nineteen (19). 

Along the trail, after leaving Fort Ellis, we found large 
quantities of the ^'service" berry, called by the Snake In- 
dians "Tee-amp." Our ascent of the Belt range was some- 
what irregular, leading us up several sharp acclivities, until 
we attained at the summit an elevation of nearly two thou- 
sand feet above the valley we had left. The scene from this 
point is excelled in grandeur only by extent and variety. An 
amphitheatre of mountains 200 miles in circumference, en- 
closing a valley nearly as large as the State of Rhode Island, 
with all its details of pinnacle, peak, dome, rock and river, 
is comprehended at a glance. In front of us at a distance 
of twenty miles, in sullen magnificence, rose the picturesque 
range of the Madison, with the insulated rock. Mount Wash- 
ington, and the sharp pinnacle of Ward's Peak prominently 
in the foreground. Following the range to the right for the 
distance of twenty-five miles, the eye rests upon that singu- 
lar depression where, formed by the confluent streams of the 
Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin, the mighty Missouri com- 

6 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

mences its meanderings to the Gulf. Far beyond these, in 
full blue outline, are defined the round knobs of the Boulder 
mountains, stretching away and imperceptibly commingling 
with the distant horizon. At the left, towering a thousand 
feet above the circumjacent ranges, are the glowering peaks 
of the Yellowstone, their summits half enveloped in clouds, 
or glittering with perpetual snow. At our feet, apparently 
within jumping distance, cleft centrally by its arrowy river, 
carpeted with verdure, is the magnificent valley of the Gal- 
latin, like a rich emerald in its gorgeous mountain setting. 
Fascinating as was this scene we gave it but a glance, and 
turned our horses' heads towards the vast unknown. De- 
scending the range to the east, we reached Trail creek, a 
tributary of the Yellowstone, about 3 o'clock in the after- 
noon, where we are now camped for the night. We are now 
fairly launched upon our expedition without the possibility 
of obtaining outside assistance in case we need it, and means 
for our protection have been fully considered since we 
camped, and our plans for guard duty throughout the trip 
have been arranged. Hedges is to be my comrade-in-arms 
in this service. He has expressed to me his great satisfac- 
tion that he is to be associated with me throughout the trip 
in this night guard duty, and I am especially pleased at be- 
ing assigned to duty with so reliable a coadjutor as Hedges, 
a man who can be depended upon to neglect no duty. We 
two are to stand guard the first half of this first night — that 
is, until 1 o'clock to-morrow morning; then Washburn and 
Hauser take our places. Fresh Indian signs indicate that 
the red-skins are lurking near us, and justify the apprehen- 
sions expressed in the letter which Hauser and I received 
from James Stuart, that we will be attacked by the Crow 
Indians.* I am not entirely free from anxiety. Our safety 

*In his diary under date of August 22d General Washburn wrote: 
"Stood guard. Quite cold. Crows (Indians) near." 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 7 

will depend upon our vigilance. We are all well armed 
with long range repeating rifles and needle guns, though 
there are but few of our party who are experts at off-hand 
shooting with a revolver. 

In the course of our discussion Jake Smith expressed his 
doubt whether any member of our party except Hauser (who 


is an expert pistol shot) is sufficiently skilled in the use of 
the revolver to hit an Indian at even a close range, and he 
offered to put the matter to a test by setting up his hat at a 
distance of twenty yards for the boys to shoot at with their 
revolvers, without a rest, at twenty -five cents a shot. While 

8 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

several members of our party were blazing away with indif- 
ferent success, with the result that Jake was adding to his 
exchequer without damage to his hat, I could not resist the 
inclination to quietly drop out of sight behind a clump of 
bushes, where from my place of concealment I sent from 
my breech-loading Ballard repeating rifle four bullets in 
rapid succession, through the hat, badly riddling it. Jake 
inquired, "Whose revolver is it that makes that loud re- 
port?" He did not discover the true state of the case, but 
removed the target with the ready acknowledgment that 
there were members of our party whose aim with a revolver 
was more accurate than he had thought. I think that I will 
make confession to him in a few days. I now wish that I 
had brought with me an extra hat. My own is not large 
enough for Jake's head. Notwithstanding the serious prob- 
lems which we must deal with in making this journey, it is 
well to have a little amusement while we may. 

Tuesday, August 23. — Last night was the first that we 
were on guard. The first relief was Hedges and Langford, 
the second Washburn and Hauser. Everything went well. 
At 8 a. m. to-day we broke camp. Some delay occurring in 
packing our horses. Lieutenant Doane and the escort went 
ahead, and we did not again see them until we reached our 
night camp. 

We traveled down Trail creek and over a spur of the moun- 
tain to the valley of the Yellowstone, which we followed up 
eight miles to our present camp. Along on our right in pass- 
ing up the valley was a vast natural pile of basaltic rock, 
perpendicular, a part of which had been overthrown, show- 
ing transverse seams in the rock. Away at the right in the 
highest range bordering the valley was Pyramid mountain, 
itself a snow-capped peak; and further up the range was 
a long ridge covered with deep snow. As we passed Pyra- 
mid mountain a cloud descended upon it, casting its gloomy 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 9 

shadow over the adjacent peaks and bursting in a grand 
storm. These magnificent changes in mountain scenery oc- 
casioned by light and shade during one of these terrific tem- 
pests, with all the incidental accompaniments of thunder, 
lightning, rain, snow and hail, afford the most awe-inspir- 
ing exhibition in nature. As I write, another grand storm, 
which does not extend to our camp, has broken out on Emi- 
grant peak, which at one moment is completely obscured in 
darkness ; at the next, perhaps, brilliant with light ; all its 
gorges, recesses, seams and canons illuminated; these fade 
away into dim twilight, broken by a terrific flash, and, echo- 
ing to successive peals, 

u* * * ^Yie rattling crags among 

Leaps the live thunder'' in innumerable reverberations. 

On the left of the valley the foot hills were mottled with 
a carpet of beautiful, maroon-colored, delicately-tinted ver- 
dure, and towering above all rose peak on peak of the snow- 
capped mountains. 

To-day we saw our first Indians as we descended into the 
valley of the Yellowstone. They came down from the east 
side of the valley, over the foot hills, to the edge of the pla- 
teau overlooking the bottom lands of the river, and there 
•conspicuously displayed themselves for a time to engage our 
attention. As we passed by them up the valley they moved 
down to where their ponies were hobbled. Two of our 
party, Hauser and Stickney, had dropped behind and passed 
towards the north to get a shot at an antelope; and when 
they came up they reported that, while we were observing 
the Indians on the plateau across the river, there were one 
hundred or more of them watching us from behind a high 
butte as our pack-train passed up the valley. As soon as 
they observed Hauser and Stickney coming up nearly be- 
hind them, they wheeled their horses and disappeared down 

10 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

the other side of the butte.* This early admonition of our 
exposure to hostile attack, and liability to be robbed of 
everything, and compelled on foot and without provisions 
to retrace our steps, has been the subject of discussion in 
our camp to-night, and has renewed in our party the deter- 


Valley of the Yellowstone. 

mination to abate nothing of our vigilance, and keep in a 
condition of constant preparation. 

With our long-range rifles and plenty of ammunition, we 
can stand off 200 or 300 of them, with their less efficient 
weapons, if we don't let them sneak up upon us in the night. 
If we encounter more than that number, then what? The 
odds will be against us that they will "rub us out," as Jim 
Stuart says. 

*0n August 23d General Washburn wrote: "Indians of the 
Crow tribe." 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 11 

Jake Smith has sent the first demoralizing shot into the 
camp by announcing that he doesn't think there is any neces- 
sity for standing guard. Jake is the only one of our party 
who shows some sign of baldness, and he probably thinks 
that his own scalp is not worth the taking by the Indians. 

Did we act wisely in permitting him to join our party at 
the last moment before leaving Helena? One careless man, 
no less than one who is easily discouraged by difficulties, 
will frequently demoralize an entire company. I think we 
have now taken all possible precautions for our safety, but 
our numbers are few; and for me to say that I am not in 
hourly dread of the Indians when they appear in large force, 
would be a braggart boast. 

Mr. Everts was taken sick this afternoon. All day we 
have had a cool breeze and a few light showers, clearing off 
from time to time, revealing the mountains opposite U3 cov- 
ered from their summits half way down with the newly 
fallen snow, and light clouds floating just below over the 
foot hills. Until we reached the open valley of the Yellow- 
stone our route was over a narrow trail, from which the 
stream. Trail creek, takes its name. The mountains oppo- 
site the point where we entered the valley are rugged, grand, 
picturesque and immense by turns, and colored by nature 
with a thousand gorgeous hues. We have traveled all this 
day amid this stupendous variety of landscape until we have 
at length reached the western shore of that vast and soli- 
tary river which is to guide us to the theatre of our explora- 
tions. From the "la}^ of the land" I should judge that our 
camp to-night is thirty-five to forty miles above the point 
where Captain William Clark, of the famous Lewis and 
Clark expedition, embarked with his party in July, 1806, in 
two Cottonwood canoes bound together with buffalo thongs, 
on his return to the states. It was from that point also 

12 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

that some six hundred residents of Montana embarked for 
a trip to the states, in forty-two flat boats, in the autumn 
of 1865.* We learn from Mr. Boteler that there are some 
twenty-five lodges of Crow Indians up the valley.* 

Wednesday, August 24. — It rained nearly all of last night, 
but Lieutenant Doane pitched his large tent, which was 
sufficiently capacious to accommodate us all by lying "heads 
and tails," and we were very comfortable. Throughout the 
forenoon we had occasional showers, but about noon it 
cleared away, and, after getting a lunch, we got under way. 
During the forenoon some of the escort were very success- 
ful in fishing for trout. Mr. Everts was not well enough to 
accompan^^ us, and it was arranged that he should remain 
at Boteler's ranch, and that we would move about twelve 
miles up the river, and there await his arrival. Our prepa- 
rations for departure being completed. General Washburn 
detailed a guard of four men to accompany the pack train, 
while the rest of the party rode on ahead. We broke camp 
at 2 :30 p. m. with the pack train and moved up the valley. 
At about six miles from our camp we crossed a spur of the 
mountain which came down boldly to the river, and from 
the top we had a beautiful view of the valley stretched out 
below us, the stream fringed with a thin bordering of trees, 
the foot hills rising into a level plateau covered with rich 
bunch grass, and towering above all, the snow-covered sum- 
mits of the distant mountains rising majestically, seem- 
ingly just out of the plateau, though they were many miles 

♦Near where Livingston is now located. 

♦Lieutenant Doane in his report to the War Department under 
date of August 24th writes: "Guards were established here during 
the night, as there were signs of a party of Indians on the trail 
ahead of us, all the members of the party taking their tours of this 
duty, and using in addition the various precautions of lariats, hob- 
bles, etc., not to be neglected while traveling through this country." 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 13 

away. Above us the valley opened out wide, and from the 
overlooking rock on which we stood we could see the long 
train of pack horses winding their way along the narrow 
trail, the whole presenting a picturesque scene. The rock 
on which we stood was a coarse conglomerate, or pudding 

Five miles farther on we crossed a small stream bordered 
with black cherry trees, many of the smaller ones broken 
down by bears, of which animal we found many signs. One 
mile farther on we made our camp about a mile below the 
middle canon. To-night we have antelope, rabbit, duck, 
grouse and the finest of large trout for supper. As I write. 
General Washburn, Hedges and Hauser are engaged in an 
animated discussion of the differences between France and 
Germany, and the probabilities of the outcome of the war. 
The three gentlemen are not agreed in determining where 
the responsibility for the trouble lies, and I fear that I will 
have to check their profanity. However, neither Washburn 
nor Hedges swears. 

Thursday, August 25. — Last night was very cold, the ther- 
mometer marking 40 degrees at 8 o'clock a. m. At one mile 
of travel we came to the middle canon, which we passed on 
a very narrow trail running over a high spur of the moun- 
tain overlooking the river, which at this point is forced 
through a narrow gorge, surging and boiling and tumbling 
over the rocks, the water having a dark green color. After 
passing the canon we again left the valley, passing over the 
mountain, on the top of which at an elevation of several 
hundred feet above the river is a beautiful lake. Descend- 
ing the mountain again, we entered the valley, which here 
is about one and a half to two miles wide. At nineteen 
miles from our morning camp we came to Gardiner's river, 
at the mouth of which we camped. We are near the south- 
ern boundary of Montana, and still in the limestone and 

14 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

granite formations. Mr. Everts came into camp just at 
night, nearly recovered, but very tired from his long and 
tedious ride over a rugged road, making our two days' travel 
in one. We passed to-day a singular formation which we 
named "The DeviPs Slide." From the top of the mountain 
to the valley, a distance of about 800 feet, the trap rock 
projected from 75 to 125 feet, the intermediate layers of 
friable rock having been washed out. The trap formation 
is about twenty-five feet wide, and covered with stunted 
pine trees. Opposite our camp is a high drift formation 
of granite boulders, gravel and clay. The boulders are the 
regular gray Quincy granite, and those in the middle of the 
river are hollowed out by the action of the water into many 
curious shapes. We have here found our first specimens of 
petrifactions and obsidian, or volcanic glass. From the top 
of the mountain back of our camp we can see to-night a 
smoke rising from another peak, which some of our party 
think is a signal from one band of the Indians to another, 
conveying intelligence of our progress. Along our trail of 
to-day are plenty of Indian "signs," and marks of the lodge 
poles dragging in the sand on either side of the trail.* 

Jake Smith stood guard last night, or ought to have 
done so, and but for the fact that Gillette was also on guard, 
I should not have had an undisturbed sleep. We know 
that the Indians are near us, and sleep is more refreshing 
to me when I feel assured that I will not be joined in my 
slumbers by those who are assigned for watchful guard 

♦Under date of August 25th Lieutenant Doane writes: "From 
this camp was seen the smoke of fires on the mountains in front, 
while Indian signs became more numerous and distinct." Under 
date of August 25th General Washburn wrote in his diary: "Have 
been following Indian trails, fresh ones, all the way. They are 
about two days ahead of us." 


Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 15 

Friday, August 26. — For some reason we did not leave 
camp till 11 o'clock a. m. We forded Gardiner's river with 
some difficulty, several of our pack animals being nearly 
carried off their feet by the torrent. We passed over sev- 
eral rocky ridges or points coming down from the moun- 
tain, and at one and a half miles came down again into the 
valley, which one of our party called the ^'Valley of desola- 
tion.'^ Taking the trail upon the left, we followed it until 
it led us to the mouth of a canon, through which ran an old 
Indian or game trail, which was hardly discernible, and had 
evidently been long abandoned. Ketracing our steps for a 
quarter of a mile, and taking a cut-off through the sage 
brush, we followed another trail upon our right up through 
a steep, dry coulee. From the head of the coulee we went 
through fallen timber over a burnt and rocky road, our 
progress being very slow. A great many of the packs came 
off our horses or became loosened, necessitating frequent 
baitings for their readjustment. Upon the summit we 
found a great many shells. Descending the divide we found 
upon the trail the carcass of an antelope which the advance 
party had killed, and which we packed on our horses and 
carried to our night camp. In the morning Lieutenant 
Doane and one of his men, together with Mr. Everts, had 
started out ahead of the party to search out the best trail. 
At 3 o'clock p. m. we arrived at Antelope creek, only six 
miles from our morning camp, where we concluded to halt. 
On the trail which we were following there were no tracks 
except those of unshod ponies; and, as our horses were all 
shod, it was evident that Lieutenant Doane and the advance 
party had descended the mountain by some other trail than 
that which we were following. Neither were there any marks 
of dragging lodge poles. There are seemingly two trails 
across the mountain, — a circuitous one by as easy a grade 
as can be found, over which the Indians send their families 

16 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

with their heavily laden pack horses; and a more direct, 
though more difficult, route which the war parties use in 
making their rapid rides. This last is the one we have 
taken, and the advance party has doubtless taken the other. 

Our camp to-night is on Antelope creek, about five miles 
from the Yellowstone river. After our arrival in camp, in 
company with Stickney and Gillette, I made a scout of eight 
or ten miles through the country east of our trail, and be- 
tween it and the river, in search of some sign of Lieutenant 
Doane, but we found no trace of him. Parting from Stick- 
ney and Gillette, I followed down the stream through a nar- 
row gorge by a game trail, hoping if I could reach the Yel- 
lowstone, to find a good trail along its banks up to the foot 
of the Grand canon; but I found the route impracticable 
for the passage of our pack train. After supper Mr. Hau- 
ser and I went out in search of our other party, and found 
the tracks of their horses, which we followed about four 
miles to the brow of a mountain overlooking the country 
for miles in advance of us. Here we remained an hour, 
firing our guns as a signal, and carefully scanning the whole 
country with our field glasses. We could discern the trail 
for many miles on its tortuous course, but could see no sign 
of a camp, or of horses feeding, and we returned to our 

Saturday, August 27. — Lieutenant Doane and those who 
were with him did not return to camp last night. At change 
of guard Gillette's pack horse became alarmed at something 
in the bushes bordering upon the creek on the bank of which 
he was tied, and, breaking loose, dashed through the camp, 
rousing all of us. Some wild animal — snake, fox or some- 
thing of the kind — was probably the cause of the alarm. In 
its flight I became entangled in the lariat and was dragged 
head first for three or four rods, my head striking a log, 
which proved to be very rotten, and offered little resistance 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 17 

to a hard head, and did me very little damage. Towards 
morning a slight shower of rain fell, continuing at inter- 
vals till 8 o'clock. We left camp about 9 o'clock, the pack 
train following about 11 o'clock, and soon struck the trail 
of Lieutenant Doane, which proved to be the route trav- 
eled by the Indians. The marks of their lodge poles were 
plainly visible. At about four miles from our morning 
camp we discovered at some distance ahead of us what first 
appeared to be a young elk, but which proved to be a colt 
that had become separated from the camp of Indians to 
which it belonged. We think the Indians cannot be far 
from us at this time. Following the trail up the ascent 
leading from Antelope creek, we entered a deep cut, the 
sides of which rise at an angle of 45 degrees, and are covered 
with a luxuriant growth of grass. Through this cut we 
ascended by a grade entirely practicable for a wagon road 
to the summit of the divide separating the waters of Ante- 
lope creek from those of * creek, and from the sum- 
mit descended through a beautiful gorge to a small tribu- 
tary of the Yellowstone, a distance of two miles, dismount- 
ing and leading our horses almost the entire distance, the 
descent being too precipitous for the rider's comfort or for 

ease to the horse. We were now within four miles of * 

creek, and within two miles of the Yellowstone. On the 
right of the trail, two miles farther on, we found a small 
hot sulphur spring, the water of which was at a temperature 
a little below the boiling point, which at this elevation is 
about 195 degrees. Ascending a high ridge we had a com- 
manding view of a basaltic formation of palisades, about 

♦These blanks were left in my diary with the intention of filling 
them, upon the selection by our party of a name for the creek; 
but after going into camp at Tower fall, the matter of selecting a 
name was forgotten. A few years later the stream was named 
Lost creek. 

18 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

thirty feet in height, on the opposite bank of the Yellow- 
stone, overlooking a stratum of cement and gravel nearly 
two hundred feet thick, beneath which is another formation 
of the basaltic rock, and beneath this another body of ce- 
ment and gravel. We named this formation ^'Column 
Rock." The upper formation, from which the rock takes its 
name, consists of basaltic columns about thirty feet high, 
closely touching each other, the columns being from three 
to five feet in diameter. A little farther on we descended 
the sides of the canon, through which runs a large creek. 
We crossed this creek and camped on the south side. Our 
camp is about four hundred feet in elevation above the Yel- 
lowstone, which is not more than two miles distant. The 
creek is full of granite boulders, varying in size from six 
inches to ten feet in diameter. 

General Washburn was on guard last night, and to-night 
he seems somewhat fatigued. Mr. Hedges has improvised a 
writing stool from a sack of flour, and I have appropriated 
a sack of beans for a like use; and, as we have been writ- 
ing, there has been a; lively game of cards pla^^ed near my 
left side, which Hedges, who has just closed his diary, says 
is a game of poker. 1 doubt if Deacon Hedges is sufficiently 
posted in the game to know to a certainty that poker is the 
game which is being played ; but, putting what Hedges tells 
me with what I see and hear, I find that these infatuated 
players have put a valuation of five (5) cents per bean, on 
beans that did not cost more than |1 a quart in Helena, and 
Jake Smith exhibits a marvelous lack of veneration for his 
kinswoman, by referring to each bean, as he places it before 
him upon the table, as his "aunt," or, more flippantly, his 
"auntie." Walter Trumbull has been styled the "Banker," 
and he says that at the commencement of the game he sold 
forty of these beans to each of the players, himself included 
(200 in all), at five (5) cents each, and that he has already 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 19 

redeemed the entire 200 at that rate ; and now Jake Smith 
has a half-pint cup nearly full of beans, and is demanding 
of Trumbull that he redeem them also; that is, pay five (5) 
cents per bean for the contents of the cup. Trumbull ob- 
jects. Jake persists. Keflecting upon their disagreement I 
recall that about an hour ago Jake, with an apologetic "Ex- 
cuse me !'' disturbed me while I was writing and untied the 
bean sack on which I am now sitting, and took from it a 
double handful of beans. 

It seems to me that a game of cards which admits of such 
latitude as this, with a practically unlimited draft upon 
outside resources, is hardly fair to all parties, and espe- 
cially to "The Banker." 

Sunday, August 28. — To-day being Sunday, we remained 
all day in our camp, which Washburn and Everts have 
named "Camp Comfort," as we have an abundance of veni- 
son and trout. 

We visited the falls of the creek, the waters of which 
tumble over the rocks and boulders for the distance of 200 
yards from our camp, and then fall a distance of 110 feet, 
as triangulated by Mr. Hauser. Stickney ventured to the 
verge of the fall, and, with a stone attached to a strong 
cord, measured its height, which he gives as 105 feet. 

The stream, in its descent to the brink of the fall, is sepa- 
rated into half a dozen distorted channels which have zig- 
zagged their passage through the cement formation, work- 
ing it into spires, pinnacles, towers and many other capri- 
cious objects. Many of these are of faultless symmetry, 
resembling the minaret of a mosque; others are so gro- 
tesque as to provoke merriment as well as wonder. One of 
this latter character we named "The Devil's Hoof," from its 
supposed similarity to the proverbial foot of his Satanic 
majesty. The height of this rock from its base is about 
fifty feet. 

20 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

The friable rock forming the spires and towers and pin- 
nacles crumbles away under a slight pressure. I climbed 
one of these tall spires on the brink of the chasm overlook- 
ing the fall, and from the top had a beautiful view, though 
it was one not unmixed with terror. Directly beneath my 
feet, but probably about one hundred feet below me, was 


the verge of the fall, and still below that the deep gorge 
through which the creek went bounding and roaring over 
the boulders to its union with the Yellowstone. The scenery 
here cannot be called grand or magnificent, but it is most 
beautiful and picturesque. The spires are from 75 to 100 
feet in height. The volume of water is about six or eight 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 21 

times that of Minnehaha fall, and I think that a month 
ago, while the snows were still melting, the creek could not 
easily have been forded. The route to the foot of the fall 
is by a well worn Indian trail running to the mouth of the 
creek over boulders and fallen pines, and through thickets 
of raspberry bushes. 

At the mouth of the creek on the Yellowstone is a hot 
sulphur spring, the odor from which is perceptible in our 
camp to-day. At the base of the fall we found a large petri- 
faction of wood imbedded in the debris of the falling cement 
and slate rock. There are several sulphur springs at the 
mouth of the creek, three of them boiling, others nearly as 
hot as boiling water. There is also a milky white sulphur 
spring. Within one yard of a spring, the temperature of 
which is little below the boiling point, is a sulphur spring 
with water nearly as cold as ice water, or not more than 
ten degrees removed from it. 

I went around and almost under the fall, or as far as the 
rocks gave a foot-hold, the rising spray thoroughly wetting 
and nearly blinding me. Some two hundred yards below 
the fall is a huge granite boulder about thirty feet in diam- 
eter. Where did it come from? 

In camp to-day several names were proposed for the creek 
and fall, and after much discussion the name ^'Minaret" 
was selected. Later, this evening, this decision has been re- 
considered, and we have decided to substitute the name 
"Tower'' for "Minaret," and call it "Tower Fall."* 

*In making a copy of my original diary, it is proper at this point 
to interpolate an account of the circumstances under which the 
name "Tower" was bestowed upon the creek and fall. 

At the outset of our journey we had agreed that we would not 
give to any object of interest which we might discover the name 
of any of our party nor of our friends. This rule was to be relig- 
iously observed. While in camp on Sunday, August 28th, on the 
bank of this creek, it was suggested that we select a name for the 
creek and fall. Walter Trumbull suggested "Minaret Creek" and 

22 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

General Washburn rode out to make a reconnaissance for 
a route to the river, and returned about 3 o'clock in the 
afternoon with the intelligence that from the summit of a 
high mountain he had seen Yellowstone lake, the proposed 
object of our visit; and with his compass he had noted its 
direction from our camp. This intelligence has greatly re- 
lieved our anxiety concerning the course we are to pursue, 
and has quieted the dread apprehensions of some of our 
number, lest we become inextricably involved in the wooded 
labyrinth by which we are surrounded; and in violation of 
our agreement that we would not give the name of any 
member of our party to any object of interest, we have spon- 
taneously and by unanimous vote given the mountain the 
name by which it will hereafter and forever be known, 
"Mount Washburn." 

In addition to our saddle horses and pack horses, we have 
another four-footed animal in our outfit — a large black dog 
of seeming little intelligence, to w^hich we have given the 

"Minaret Fall." Mr. Hauser suggested "Tower Creek" and "Tower 
Fall." After some discussion a vote was taken, and by a small 
majority the name "Minaret" was decided upon. During the fol- 
lowing evening Mr. Hauser stated with great seriousness that we 
had violated the agreement made relative to naming objects for our 
friends. He said that the well known Southern family — the 
Rhetts — lived in St. Louis, and that they had a most charming and 
accomplished daughter named "Minnie." He said that this daugh- 
ter was a sweetheart of Trumbull, who had proposed the name — 
her name — "Minnie Rhett" — and that we had unwittingly given to 
the fall and creek the name of this sweetheart of Mr. Trumbull. 
Mr. Trumbull indignantly denied the truth of Hauser's statement, 
and Hauser as determinedly insisted that it was the truth, and 
the vote was therefore reconsidered, and by a substantial majority 
it was decided to substitute the name "Tower" for "Minaret." 
Later, and when it was too late to recall or reverse the action of 
our party, it was surmised that Hauser himself had a sweetheart 
in St. Louis, a Miss Tower. Some of our party, Walter Trumbull 
especially, always insisted that such was the case. The weight of 
testimony was so evenly balanced that I shall hesitate long before 
I believe either side of this part of the story. 

N. P. Langford. 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 23 

name of "Booby." He is owned by "Nute," one of our col- 
ored boys, who avers that he is a very knowing dog, and 
will prove himself so before our journey is ended. The 
poor beast is becoming sore- footed, and his sufferings excite 
our sympathy, and we are trying to devise some kind of 
shoe or moccasin for him. The rest to-day in camp will 
benefit him. Lieutenant Doane is suffering greatly with a 
felon on his thumb. It ought to be opened, but he is un- 
willing to submit to a thorough operation. His sufferings 
kept him awake nearly all of last night. 

Monday, August 29. — We broke camp about 8 o^clock, 
leaving the trail, which runs down to the mouth of the 
creek, and passed over a succession of high ridges, and part 
of the time through fallen timber. The trail of the Indians 
leads off to the left, to the brink of the Yellowstone, which 
it follows up about three-fourths of a mile, and then crosses 
to the east side. Hauser, Gillette, Stickney, Trumbull and 
myself rode out to the summit of Mount Washburn, which 
is probably the highest peak on the west side of the river. 
Having an aneroid barometer with us, we ascertained the 
elevation of the mountain to be about 9,800 feet. The sum- 
mit is about 500 feet above the snow line. 

Descending the mountain on the southwest side, we came 
upon the trail of the pack train, which we followed to our 
camp at the head of a small stream running into the Yel- 
lowstone, which is about five miles distant. As we came 
into camp a black bear kindly vacated the premises. After 
supper some of our party followed down the creek to its 
mouth. At about one mile below our camp the creek runs 
through a bed of volcanic ashes, which extends for a hun- 
dred yards on either side. Toiling on our course down this 
creek to the river we came suddenly upon a basin of boiling 
sulphur springs, exhibiting signs of activity and points of 
difference so wonderful as to fully absorb our curiosity. 

24 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

The largest of these, about twenty feet in diameter, is boil- 
ing like a cauldron, throwing water and fearful volumes of 
sulphurous vapor higher than our heads. Its color is a dis- 
agreeable greenish yellow. The central spring of the group, 
of dark leaden hue, is in the most violent agitation, its con- 
vulsive spasms frequently projecting large masses of water 
to the height of seven or eight feet. The spring lying to the 
east of this, more diabolical in appearance, filled with a hot 
brownish substance of the consistency of mucilage, is in 
constant noisy ebullition, emitting fumes of villainous odor. 
Its surface is covered with bubbles, which are constantly 
rising and bursting, and emitting sulphurous gases from 
various parts of its surface. Its appearance has suggested 
the name, which Hedges has given, of "Hell- Broth springs;" 
for, as we gazed upon the infernal mixture and inhaled the 
pungent sickening vapors, we were impressed with the idea 
that this was a most perfect realization of Shakespeare's 
image in Macbeth. It needed but the presence of Hecate 
and her weird band to realize that horrible creation of 
poetic fancy, and I fancied the "black and midnight hags" 
concocting a charm around this horrible cauldron. We 
ventured near enough to this spring to dip the end of a pine 
pole into it, which, upon removal, was covered an eighth of 
an inch thick with lead-colored sulphury slime. 

There are five large springs and half a dozen smaller ones 
in this basin, all of them strongly impregnated with sul 
phur, alum and arsenic. The water from all the larger 
springs is dark brown or nearly black. The largest spring 
is fifteen to eighteen feet in diameter, and the water boils 
up like a cauldron from 18 to 30 inches, and one instinctive- 
ly draws back from the edge as the hot sulphur steam 
rises around him. Another of the larger springs is inter- 
mittent. The smaller springs are farther up on the bank 
than the larger ones. The deposit of sinter bordering one 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 25 

of them, with the emission of steam and smoke combined, 
gives it a resemblance to a chimney of a miner's cabin. 
Around them all is an incrustation formed from the bases of 
the spring deposits, arsenic, alum, sulphur, etc. This in- 
crustation is sufficiently strong in many places to bear the 
weight of a man^ but more frequently it gave way, and from 

AT Hell-Broth Springs. 

the apertures thus created hot steam issued, showing it to 
be dangerous to approach the edge of the springs; and it 
was with the greatest difficulty that I obtained specimens of 
the incrustation. This I finally accomplished by lying at 
full length upon that portion of the incrustation which 
yielded the least, but which was not sufficiently strong to 
bear my weight while I stood upright, and at imminent risk 
of sinking in the infernal mixture, 1 rolled over and over to 

26 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

the edge of tlie opening ; and, with the crust slowly bending 
and sinking beneath me, hurriedly secured the coveted 
prize of black sulphur, and rolled back to a place of safety. 

From the springs to the mouth of the creek we followed 
along the bank, the bed or bottom being too rough and pre- 
cipitous for lis to travel in it, the total fall in the creek for 
the three miles being about fifteen hundred feet. Standing 
upon the high point at the junction of the creek with the 
Yellowstone, one first gets some idea of the depth of the 
canon through which the river runs. From this height the 
sound of the waters of the Yellowstone, tumbling over tre- 
mendous rocks and boulders, could not be heard. Every- 
thing around us — mountains, valleys, canon and trees, 
heights and depths — all are in such keeping and proportion 
that all our estimates of distances are far below the real 
truth. To-day we passed the mouth of Hell-Roaring river 
on the opposite side of the Yellowstone. 

It was again Jake Smith's turn for guard duty last night, 
but this morning Jake's countenance wore a peculiar ex- 
pression, which indicated that he possessed some knowledge 
not shared by the rest of the party. He spoke never a word, 
and was as serene as a Methodist minister behind four aces. 
My interpretation of this self-satisfied serenity is that his 
guard duty did not deprive him of much sleep. When it 
comes to considering the question of danger in this Indian 
country, Jake thinks that he knows more than the veteran 
Jim Stuart, whom we expected to join us on this trip, and 
who has given us some salutary words of caution. In a 
matter in which the safety of our whole party is involved, it 
is unfortunate that there are no "articles of war" to aid 
in the enforcement of discipline, in faithful guard duty. 

Tuesday,August 30. — We broke camp about 9 o'clock a. m., 
traveling in a southerly direction over the hills adjoin- 
ing our camp, and then descended the ridge in a southwest- 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 27 

eriy direction, heading off several ravines, till we came into 
a small valley; thence we crossed over a succession of ridges 
of fallen timber to a creek, where we halted about ten miles 
from our morning camp and about a mile from the upper 
fall of the Yellowstone. Mr. Hedges gave the name "Cas- 
cade creek" to this stream. 

When we left our camp this morning at Hell-Broth 
springs, 1 remarked to Mr. Hedges and General Washburn 
that the wonders of which we were in pursuit had not dis- 
appointed us in their first exhibitions, and that I was en- 
couraged in the faith that greater curiosities lay before us. 
We believed that the great cataracts of the Yellowstona 
were within two days', or at most three days', travel. So 
when we reached Cascade creek, on which we are now en- 
camped, after a short day of journeying, it was with much 
astonishment as well as delight that we found ourselves in 
the immediate presence of the falls. Their roar, smothered 
by the vast depth of the canon into which they plunge, 
was not heard until they were before us. With remark- 
able deliberation we unsaddled and lariated our horses, and 
even refreshed ourselves with such creature comforts as 
our larder readily afforded, before we deigned a survey of 
these great wonders of nature. On our walk down the 
creek to the river, struck with the beauty of its cascades, 
we even neglected the greater, to admire the lesser won- 
ders. Rushing with great celerity through a deep defile of 
lava and obsidian, worn into caverns and fissures, the 
stream, one-fourth of a mile from its debouchure, breaks 
into a continuous cascade of remarkable beauty, consist- 
ing of a fall of five feet, succeeded by another of fifteen into 
a grotto formed by proximate rocks imperfectly arching it, 
whence from a crystal pool of unfathomable depth at their 
base, it lingers as if half reluctant to continue its course, 
or as if to renew its power, and then glides gracefully over 

28 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

a descending, almost perpendicular, ledge, veiling the rocks 
for the distance of eighty feet. Mr. Hedges gave to this 
succession of cascades the name "Crystal fall." It is very 
beautiful; but the broken and cavernous gorge through 
which it passes, worn into a thousand fantastic shapes, 
bearing along its margin the tracks of grizzly bears and 
lesser wild animals, scattered throughout with huge masses 
of obsidian and other volcanic matter — the whole sug- 
gestive of nothing earthly nor heavenly — received at our 
hands, and not inaptly as I conceive, the name of "The 
Devil's Den." 

I presume that many persons will question the taste 
evinced by our company in the selection of names for the 
various objects of interest we have thus far met with; but 
they are all so different from any of Nature's works that we 
have ever seen or heard of, so entirely out of range of hu- 
man experience, and withal so full of exhibitions which 
can suggest no other fancy than that which our good 
grandmothers have painted on our boyish imaginations as 
a destined future abode, that we are likely, almost invol- 
untarily, to pursue the system with which we have com- 
menced, to the end of our journej^ A similar imagination 
has possessed travelers and visitors to other volcanic re- 

We have decided to remain at this point through the en- 
tire day to-morrow, and examine the canon and falls. 
From the brief survey of the canon I was enabled to make 
before darkness set in, I am impressed with its awful 
grandeur, and I realize the impossibility of giving to any 
one who has not seen a gorge similar in character, any 
idea of it. 

It is getting late, and it is already past our usual bed- 
time, and Jake Smith is calling to me to ^'turn in" and 
give him a chance to sleep. There is in what I have already 

c^-^^^'-y^z^^^..^ ^^y^^c^gd^. 

Washburn Yellowstone ExrEDiTioN of 1870. 29 

seen so much of novelty to fill the mind and burden the 
memory, that unless I write down in detail the events of 
each day, and indeed almost of each hour as it passes, I 
shall not be able to prej^are for publication on my return 
home any clear or satisfactory account of these wonders. 
So Jake may go to. I will write until my candle burns 
out. Jacob is indolent and fond of slumber, and I think 
that he resents my remark to him the other day, that he 
could burn more and gather less wood than any man I ever 
camped with. He has dubbed me "The Yellowstone sharp." 
Good! I am not ashamed to have the title. Lieutenant 
Doane has crawled out of his blankets, and is just outside 
the tent with his hand and fore-arm immersed in water 
nearly as cold as ice. I am afraid that lock-jaw will set in 
if he does not consent to have the felon lanced. 

Wednesday, August 31. — This has been a "red-letter" day 
with me, and one which I shall not soon forget, for my mind 
is clogged and my memory confused by what I have to-day 
seen. General Washburn and Mr. Hedges are sitting near 
me, writing, and we have an understanding that we will 
compare our notes when finished. We are all overwhelmed 
with astonishment and wonder at what we have seen, and 
we feel that we have been near the very presence of the 
Almighty. General Washburn has just quoted from the 

"When I behold the work of Thy hands, what is man 
that Thou art mindful of him!" 

My own mind is so confused that I hardly know where to 
commence in making a clear record of what is at this mo- 
ment floating past my mental vision. I cannot confine my- 
self to a bare description of the falls of the Yellowstone 
alone, for these two great cataracts are but one feature in 
a scene composed of so many of the elements of grandeur 

30 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

and sublimity, that I almost despair of giving to those 
who on our return home will listen to a recital of our ad- 
ventures, the faintest conception of it. The immense 
canon or gorge of rocks through which the river descends, 
perhaps more than the falls, is calculated to fill the ob- 
server with feelings of mingled awe and terror. This 
chasm is seemingly about thirty miles in length. Commenc- 
ing above the upper fall, it attains a depth of two hundred 
feet where that takes its plunge, and in the distance of half 
a mile from that point to the verge of the lower fall, it 
rapidly descends with the river between walls of rock near- 
ly six hundred feet in vertical height, to w^hich three hun- 
dred and twenty feet are added by the fall. Below this 
the wall lines marked by the descent of the river grow in 
height with incredible distinctness, until they are probably 
two thousand feet above the water. There is a difference 
of nearly three thousand feet in altitude between the sur- 
face of the river at the upper fall and the foot of the 
canon. Opposite Mount Washburn the canon must be more 
than half a vertical mile in depth. As it is impossible to 
explore the entire canon, we are unable to tell whether the 
course of the river through it is broken by other and larger 
cataracts than the two we have seen, or whether its con- 
tinuous descent alone has produced the enormous depth 
to which it has attained. Rumors of falls a thousand feet 
in height have often reached us before we made this visit. 
At all points w^here we approached the edge of the canon 
the river was descending with fearful momentum through 
it, and the rapids and foam from the dizzy summit of the 
rock overhanging the lower fall, and especially from points 
farther down the canon, were so terrible to behold, that 
none of our company could venture the experiment in any 
other manner than by lying prone upon the rock, to gaze 
into its awful depths; depths so amazing that the sound of 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 31 

the rapids in their course over immense boulders, and lash- 
ing in fury the base of the rocks on which we were lying, 
could not be heard. The stillness is horrible, and the sol- 
emn grandeur of the scene surpasses conception. You feel 


the absence of sound — the oppression of absolute silence. 
Down, down, down, you see the river attenuated to a 
thread. If you could only hear that gurgling river, lashing 
with puny strength the massive walls that imprison it and 

32 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

hold it in their dismal shadow, if toii could but see a living 
thing in the depth beneath you, if a bird would but fly past 
you, if the wind would move any object in that awful 
chasm, to break for a moment the solemn silence which 
reigns there, it would relieve that tension of the nerves 
which the scene has excited, and with a grateful heart you 
would thank God that he had permitted you to gaze un- 
harmed upon this majestic display of his handiwork. But 
as it is, the spirit of man sympathizes with the deep gloom 
of the scene, and the brain reels as you gaze into this 
profound and solemn solitude. 

The place where I obtained the best and most terrible 
view of the canon was a narrow projecting point situated 
two or three miles below the lower fall.* Standing there 
or rather lying there for greater safety, I thought how ut- 
terly impossible it would be to describe to another the sen- 
sations inspired by such a presence. As I took in this scene, 
I realized my own littleness, my helplessness, my dread ex- 
posure to destruction, my inability to cope with or even 
comprehend the mighty architecture of nature. More than 
all this I felt as never before my entire dependence upon 
that Almighty Power w^ho had wrought these wonders. A 
sense of danger, lest the rock should crumble away, almost 
overpowered me. My knees trembled, and I experienced 
the terror which causes men to turn pale and their counte- 
nances to blanch with fear, and I recoiled from the vision 
I had seen, glad to feel the solid earth beneath me and to 
realize the assurance of returning safety. 

The scenery surrounding the canon and falls on both 
banks of the Yellowstone is enlivened by all the hues of 
abundant vegetation. The foot-hills approach the river, 
crowned with a vesture of evergreen pines. Meadows ver- 

*Now called Inspiration Point. 

Washburn Yelloavstone Expedition of 1870. 33 

dant with grasses and shrubbery stretch away to the base 
of the distant mountains, which, rolling into ridges, rising 
into peali:s, and breaking into chains, are defined in the 
deepest blue upon the horizon. To render the scene still 
more imposing, remarkable volcanic deposits, wonderful 
boiling springs, jets of heated vapor, large collections of 
sulphur, immense rocks and petrifications abound in great 
profusion in this immediate vicinity. The river is filled 
with trout, and bear, elk, deer, mountain lions and lesser 
game roam the plains, forests and mountain fastnesses. 

The two grand falls of the Yellowstone form a fitting 
completion to this stupendous climax of wonders. They 
impart life, power, light and majesty to an assemblage of 
elements, which without them would be the most gloomy 
and horrible solitude in nature. Their eternal anthem, 
echoing from canon, mountain, rock and woodland, thrills 
you with delight, and. you gaze with rapture at the iris- 
crowned curtains of fleecy foam as they plunge into gulfs 
enveloped in mist and spray. The stillness which held your 
senses spellbound, as you peered into the dismal depths of 
the caiion below, is now broken by the uproar of waters; 
the terror it inspired is superseded by admiration and as- 
tonishment, and the scene, late so painful from its silence 
and gloom, is now animate with joy and revelry. 

The upper fall, as determined by the rude means of 
measurement at our command, is one hundred and fifteen 
feet in height. The river approaches it through a passage 
of rocks which rise one hundred feet on either side above 
its surface. Until within half a mile of the brink of the fall 
the river is peaceful and unbroken by a ripple. Suddenly, 
as if aware of impending danger, it becomes lashed into 
foam, circled with eddies, and soon leaps into fearful rap- 
ids. The rocky jaws confining it gradually converge as it 
approaches the edge of the fall, bending its course by 

34 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

their projections, and apparently crowding back the 
water, which struggles and leaps against their bases, 
warring with its bounds in the impatience of restraint, 
and madly leaping from its confines, a liquid emer- 
ald wreathed with foam, into the abyss beneath. The 
sentinel rocks, a hundred feet asunder, could easily be 
spanned by a bridge directly over and in front of the fall, 
and fancy led me forward to no distant period when such 
an effort of airy architecture would be crowded with happy 
gazers from all portions of our country. A quarter of the 
way between the verge and the base of the fall a rocky ta- 
ble projects from the west bank, in front of and almost 
within reaching distance of it, furnishing a point of ob- 
servation where the finest view can be obtained. In order 
to get a more perfect view of the cararact, Mr. Hedges and 
I made our way down to this table rock, where we sat for a 
long time. As from this spot we looked up at the descend- 
ing waters, we insensibly felt that the slightest protrusion 
in them would hurl us backwards into the gulf below. A 
thousand arrows of foam, apparently aimed at us, leaped 
from the verge, and passed rapidly down the sheet. But as 
the view grew upon us, and we comprehended the power, 
majesty and beauty of the scene, we became insensible to 
danger and gave ourselves up to the full enjoyment of it. 

Very beautiful as is this fall, it is greatly excelled in 
grandeur and magnificence by the cataract half a mile be- 
low it, where the river takes another perpendicular plunge 
of three hundred and twenty feet into the most gloomy 
cavern that ever received so majestic a visitant. Between 
the two falls, the river, though bordered by lofty precipices, 
expands in width and flows gently over a nearly level sur- 
face until its near approach to the verge. Here a sudden 
convergence in the rocks compresses its channel, and with 
a gurgling, choking struggle, it leaps with a single bound, 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 35 

sheer from an even level shelf, into the tremendous chasm. 
The sheet could not be more perfect if wrought by art. 
The Almighty has vouchsafed no grander scene to human 
eyes. Every object that meets the vision increases its sub- 
limity. There is a majestic harmony in the whole, which 


I have never seen before in nature's grandest works. The 
fall itself takes its leap between the jaws of rocks whose 
vertical height above it is more than six hundred feet, and 
more than nine hundred feet above the chasm into which it 
falls. Long before it reaches the base it is enveloped in 

36 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

spray, which is woven by the sun's rays into bows radiant 
with all the colors of the prism, and arching the face of 
the cataract with their glories. Five hundred feet below the 
edge of the canon, and one hundred and sixty feet above 
the verge of the cataract, and overlooking the deep gorge 
beneath, on the flattened summit of a projecting crag, I 
lay with my face turned into the boiling chasm, and with 
a stone suspended by a large cord measured its profound- 
est depths. Three times in its descent the cord was parted 
by abrasion, but at last, securing the weight with a leather 
band, I was enabled to ascertain by a measurement which I 
think quite exact, the height of the fall. It is a little 
more than three hundred and twenty feet; while the per- 
pendicular wall down which I suspended the weight was 
five hundred and ten feet. 

Looking down from this lofty eminence through the 
canon below the falls, the scene is full of grandeur. The 
descent of the river for more than a mile is marked by con- 
tinuous cascades varying in height from five to twenty feet, 
and huge rapids breaking over the rocks, and lashing with 
foam the precipitous sides of the gorge. A similar descent 
through the entire canon (thirty miles), is probable, as in 
no other way except by distinct cataracts of enormous 
height can the difference in altitude between this point and 
its outlet be explained. The colors of the rock, which is 
shaly in character, are variegated with yellow, gray and 
brown, and the action of the water in its rapid passage 
down the sides of the canon has worn the fragments of 
shale into countless capricious forms. Jets of steam issue 
from the sides of the canon at frequent intervals, marking 
the presence of thermal springs and active volcanic forces. 
The evidence of a recession of the river through the canon 
is designated by the ridges apparent on its sides, and it is 
not improbable that at no distant day the lower fall will 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 37 

become blended by this process with the upper, forming a 
single cataract nearly five hundred feet in height. 

There are but few places where the sides of the Grand 
canon can be descended with safety. Hauser and Stickney 
made the descent at a point where the river was 1,050 feet 
below the edge of the canon, as determined by triangula-- 
tion by Mr. Hauser. Lieutenant Doane, accompanied by his 
orderly, went down the river several miles, and following 
down the bed of a lateral stream reached its junction with 
the Yellowstone at a point where the canon was about 1,500 
feet in depth — the surface of the ground rising the farther 
he went down the river. 

Mr. Hedges and I sat on the table-rock to which I have 
referred, opposite the upper fall, as long as our limited 
time would permit; and as we reluctantly left it and 
climbed to the top, I expressed my regret at leaving so 
fascinating a spot, quoting the familiar line: 

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever." 

Mr. Hedges asked me who was the author of the line, but 
I could not tell. I will look it up on my return.* 

Yes! This stupendous display of nature's handiwork will 
be to me "a joy forever." It lingers in my memory like the 
faintly defined outlines of a dream. I can scarcely realize 
that in the unbroken solitude of this majestic range of 
rocks, away from civilization and almost inaccessible to 
human approach, the Almighty has placed so many of the 
most wonderful and magnificent objects of His creation, 
and that I am to be one of the few first to bring them to the 
notice of the world. Truly has it been said, that we live to 
learn how little may be known, and of what we see, how 
much surpasses comprehension. 

*The above quotation is from a poem by John Keats. 

38 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

Thursday, September 1. — We did not break camp till 
nearly ten o'clock this morning, the pack-train crossing 
Cascade creek at its head, and coming into the riyer trail 
about two miles aboye the upper fall. The more direct 
trail — shorter by one and a half miles — runs along the bank 
of the riyer. 

, ,^f we had not decided, last night, that we would moye on 
tprd^^j I think that eyery member of the party would haye 
iieen glad to stay another day at the canon and falls. I 
will, howeyer, except out of the number our comrade Jake 
Smith. The afternoon of our arriyal at the canon (day be- 
fore yesterday), after half an hour of inspection of the falls 
and caiion, he said: "Well, boys, I haye seen all there is, 
and I am ready to moye on.'' 

Howeyer, the perceptible decline in our larder, and the 
uncertainty of the time to be occupied in further explora- 
tions, forbid more than these two days' stay at the falls 
and caiion. The sun this morning shone brightly, and its 
rays were reflected upon the sides of the dismal caiion — so 
dark, and gray, and still — enliyening and brightening it. 
To-day has been warm, and nature this morning seemed 
determined that our last look should be the brightest, for 
the beauties of the entire landscape inyited us to make a 
longer stay, and we lingered till the last moment, that the 
final impression might not be lost. 

Pursuing our journey, at two miles aboye the falls we 
crossed a small stream which we named "Alum" creek, as 
it is strongly impregnated with alum. 

Six miles aboye the upper fall we entered upon a region 
remarkable for the number and yariety of its hot springs 
and craters. The principal spring, and the one that first 
meets the eye as you approach from the north, is a hot sul- 
phur spring, of oval shape, the water of which is constantly 
boiling and is thrown up to the height of from three to sev- 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 39 

en feet. Its two diameters are about twelve feet and twen- 
ty feet, and it has an indented border of seemingly pure 
sulphur, about two feet wide and extending down into the 
spring or cauldron to the edge of the water, which at the 
time of our visit, if it had been at rest, would have been 
fifteen or eighteen inches below the rim of the spring. This 
spring is situated at the base of a low mountain, and the 
gentle slope below and around the spring for the distance 
of two hundred or three hundred feet is covered to the 
depth of from three to ten inches with the sulphurous de- 
posit from the overflow of the spring. The moistened bed 
of a dried-up rivulet, leading from the edge of the spring 
down inside through this deposit, showed us that the spring 
had but recently been overflowing. Farther along the base 
of this mountain is a sulphurous cavern about twenty feet 
deep, and seven or eight feet in diameter at its mouth, out 
of which the steam is thrown in jets with a sound resem- 
bling the puffing of a steam-boat when laboring over a 
sand-bar, and with as much uniformity and intonation as 
if emitted by a high-pressure engine. From hundreds of 
fissures in the adjoining mountain from base to summit, 
issue hot sulphur vapors, the apertures through which they 
escape being encased in thick incrustations of sulphur, 
which in many instances is perfectly pure. There are near- 
by a number of small sulphur springs, not especially re- 
markable in appearance. 

About one hundred yards from these springs is a large 
hot spring of irregular shape, but averaging forty feet long 
by twenty-five wide, the water of which is of a dark muddy 
color. Still farther on are twenty or thirty springs of boil- 
ing mud of different degrees of consistency and color, and 
of sizes varying from two to eight feet in diameter, and of 
depths below the surface varying from three to eight feet. 
The mud in these springs is in most eases a little thinner 

40 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 

than mortar prepared for plastering, and, as it is thrown 
up from one to two feet, I can liken its appearance to 
nothing so much as Indian meal hasty pudding when 
the process of boiling is nearly completed, except that the 
puffing, bloated bubbles are greatly magnified, being from 
a few inches to two feet in diameter. In some of the 
springs the mud is of dark brown color, in others nearly 
pink, and in one it was almost yellow. Springs four or five 
feet in diameter and not over six feet apart, have no con- 
nection one with another either above or beneath the sur- 
face, the mud in them being of different colors. In some 
instances there is a difference of three feet in the height to 
which the mud in adjoining springs attains. There may 
be in some instances two or more springs which receive 
their supply of mud and their underground pressure from 
the same general source, but these instances are rare, nor 
can we determine positively that such is the case. This 
mud having been worked over and over for many years is as 
soft as the finest pigments. 

All of these springs are embraced within a circle the 
radius of which is from a thousand to twelve hundred feet, 
and the whole of this surface seems to be a smothered 
crater covered over with an incrustation of sufficient 
strength and thickness to bear usually a very heavy weight, 
but which in several instances yielded and even broke 
through under the weight of our horses as we rode over it. 
We quickly dismounted, and as we were making some ex- 
aminations, the crust broke through several times in some 
thin places through which vapor was issuing. Under the 
whole of this incrustation the hottest fires seem to be 
raging, and the heat issuing from the vents or from the 
crevices caused from the breaking in of the surface is too 
intense to be borne by the gloved hand for an instant. 
Surrounding the natural vents are deposits of pure sul- 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 41 

phur, portions of which in many instances we broke off, and 
after allowing them to cool, brought them away with us. 
On the top of the mountain overlooking the large sulphur 
spring is a small living crater about six inches in diameter, 
out of which issue hot vapor and smoke. On the slope ad- 
joining the mud spring is another crater of irregular shape, 
but embracing about one hundred square inches, out of 
which issues hot vapor, the rocks adjoining changing color 
under the intense heat with every breath blown upon them. 

The tramp of our horses' feet as we rode over the incrust- 
ation at the base of the mountain returned a hollow sound; 
yet while some of our party w^ere not disposed to venture 
upon it with their horses, still I think with care in select- 
ing a route there is very little danger in riding over it. 

On the mountain, large quantities of sulphur formed by 
the conden^'tion of the vapor issuing from the crevices, 
now closed, but once in activity in the incrusted covering, 
have been deposited, and we collected many specimens of 
pure and crystallized sulphur. Thousands of pounds of pure 
and nearly pure sulphur are now lying on the top and sides 
of the mountain, all of which can be easily gathered with 
the aid of a spade to detach it from the mountain side in- 
crustations to which it adheres in the process of condensa- 
tion. We gave to this mountain the name "Crater hill." 

Five miles further on we camped near the "Mud geyser." 
Our course today has been for the greater part over a level 
valley, which was plainly visible from the top of Mount 
Washburn. The water of the river at this point is strongly 
impregnated with the mineral bases of the springs sur- 
rounding our camp, and that empty into the river above it. 

Friday, September 2. — To-day we have occupied our- 
selves in examining the springs and other wonders at this 
point. At the base of the foot-hills adjoining our camp are 
three large springs of thick boiling mud, the largest of 

42 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

which resembles an immense cauldron. It is about thirty 
feet in diameter, bordered by a rim several feet wide, upon 
which one can stand within reach of the boiling mass of 
mud, the surface of which is four or five feet below the 
rim enclosing it, the rim being a little raised above the sur- 
rounding level. Some twelve or fifteen rods from this 
spring are two other springs from ten to twelve feet in 
diameter. Near by is a hot (not boiling) spring of sulphur, 
fifteen to eighteen feet in diameter, too hot to bathe in. 
From these we passed over the timbered hill at the base of 
which these springs are situated. In the timber along the 
brow of the hill and near its summit, and immediately un- 
der the living trees, the hot sulphur vapor and steam is- 
sue from several fissures or craters, showing that the hot- 
test fires are raging at some point beneath the surface 
crust, which in a great many places gives forth a hollow 
sound as we pass over it. Through a little coulee on the 
other side of the hill runs a small stream of greenish wa- 
ter, which issues from a small cavern, the mouth of which 
is about five feet high and the same dimension in width. 
From the mouth, the roof of the cavern descends at an an- 
gle of about fifteen degrees, till at the distance of twenty 
feet from the entrance it joins the surface of the water. 
The bottom of the cavern under the water seems to descend 
at about the same angle, but as the water is in constant 
ebullition, we cannot determine this fact accurately. The 
water is thrown out in regular spasmodic jets, the pulsa- 
tions occurring once in ten or twelve seconds. The sides 
and mouth of this cavern are covered with a dark green de- 
posit, some of which we have taken with us for analysis. 
About two hundred yards farther on is another geyser, the 
flow of which occurs about every six hours, and when the 
crater is full the diameter of the surface is about fourteen 
feet, the sides of the crater being of an irregular funnel- 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 43 

shape, and descending at an angle of about forty-five de- 
grees. At the lowest point at which we saw the water it 
was about seven feet in diameter on the surface. One or 
another of our party watched the gradual rise of the water 
for four or five hours. The boiling commenced when the 
water had risen half way to the surface, occasionally break- 
ing forth with great violence. When the water had reached 
its full height in the basin, the stream was thrown up with 
great force to a height of from twenty to thirty feet, the 
column being from seven to ten feet in diameter at the 
midway height of the column, from bottom to top. The 
water was of a dark lead color, and those portions of the 
sides of the crater that were overflowed and then exposed 
by the rise and fall of the water were covered with stalag- 
mites formed by the deposit from the geyser. 

While surveying these wonders, our ears were constantly 
saluted by dull, thundering, booming sounds, resembling the 
reports of distant artillery. As we approached the spot 
whence they proceeded, the ground beneath us shook and 
trembled as from successive shocks of an earthquake. As- 
cending a small hillock, the cause of the uproar was found 
to be a mud volcano — the greatest marvel we have yet met 
with. It is about midway up a gentle pine-covered slope, 
above which on the lower side its crater, thirty feet in 
diameter, rises to a height of about thirty-five feet. Dense 
masses of steam issue with explosive force from this crater, 
into whose tapering mouth, as they are momentarily dis- 
pelled by the wind, we can see at a depth of about forty 
feet the regurgitating contents. The explosions are not 
uniform in force or time, varying from three to eight sec- 
onds, and occasionally with perfect regularity occurring 
every five seconds. They are very distinctly heard at the 
distance of half a mile, and the massive jets of vapor which 

44 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 

accompany them burst forth like the smoke of burning gun- 

Some of these pulsations are much more violent than 
others, but each one is accompanied by the discharge of an 
immense volume of steam, which at once shuts off all view 
of the inside of the crater ; but sometimes, during the few 
seconds intervening between the pulsations, or when a 
breeze for a moment carries the steam to one side of the 
crater, we can see to the depth of thirty feet into the volcano, 
but cannot often discover the boiling mud; though occa- 
sionally, when there occurs an unusually violent spasm or 
concussion, a mass of mud as large in bulk as a hogshead 
is thrown up as high as our heads, emitting blinding clouds 
of steam in all directions, and crowding all observers back 
from the edge of the crater. We were led to believe that 
this volcano has not been long in existence; but that it 
burst forth the present summer but a few months ago. 
The green leaves and the limbs of the surrounding forest 
trees are covered with fresh clay or mud, as is also the 
newly grown grass for the distance of 180 feet from the 
crater. On the top branches of some of the trees near by — 
trees 150 feet high — we found particles of dried mud that 
had fallen upon the high branches in their descent just 
after this first outburst, which must have thrown the con- 
tents of the volcano as high as 250 or 300 feet. Mr. Hauser, 
whose experience as an engineer and with projectile forces 
entitles his opinion to credit, estimates from the particles 
of mud upon the high trees, and the distance to which they 
were thrown, that the mud had been thrown, in this explo- 
sion, to the height of between 300 and 400 feet. By actual 
measurement we found particles of this mud 186 feet from 
the edge of the crater. 

We did not dare to stand upon the leeward side of the 
crater and withstand the force of the steam; and Mr. 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 45 

Hedges, having ventured too near the rim on that side, en- 
dangered his life by his temerity, and was thrown violently 
down the exterior side of the crater by the force of the vol- 
ume of steam emitted during one of these fearful convul- 
sions. General Washburn and I, who saw him fall, were 
greatly concerned lest while regaining his feet, being 
blinded by the steam, and not knowing in which direction 
to turn, he should fall into the crater. 

Between the volcano, the mud geyser and the cavern 
spring are a number of hot sulphur and mud springs, of 
sizes varying from two to twenty feet in diameter, and many 
openings or crevices from which issue hot vapor or steam, 
the mouths of which are covered with sulphur deposits or 
other incrustations. 

From the mud volcano we moved up the valley about four 
miles to our camp on the river, passing several mud puffs 
on the way. One of the soldiers brought in a large string 
of river trout, but the water of the river is strongly impreg- 
nated with the overflow from springs near its bank, and is 
not palatable. Some of our party who have drank the 
water are feeling nauseated. Others think that their illness 
is caused by partaking too freely of one of the luxuries of 
our larder, canned peaches. I assuaged my thirst with the 
peaches, and have not partaken of the water, and there is 
no one in our camp in finer condition than I am. 

Lieutenant Doane's felon has caused him great suffering 
to-day, and I have appealed to him to allow me to lance it. 
I have for many years carried a lancet in my pocketbook, 
but I find that I have inadvertently left it at home. So all 
this day, while on horseback, I have been preparing for the 
surgical operation by sharpening my penknife on the leath- 
ern pommel of my saddle as I rode along. I have in my 
seamless sack a few simple medicines, including a vial of 
chloroform. Lieutenant Doane has almost agreed to let 

46 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

me open the felon, provided I put him to sleep with the 
chloroform; but I feel that I am too much of a novice in 
the business to administer it. However, I have told him 
that I would do so if he demanded it. Our elevation to-day 
is about 7,500 feet above sea level. 

Saturday, September 3. — This morning General Wash- 
burn and I left camp immediately after breakfast and re- 
turned four miles on our track of September 1st to Crater 
Hill and the mud springs, for the purpose of making farther 
examinations. We found the sulphur boiling spring to be 
full to overflowing, the water running down the inclined 
surface of the crust in two different directions. It was also 
boiling with greater force than it was when we first saw it, 
the water being occasionally thrown up to the height of ten 
feet. About 80 or 100 yards from this spring we found 
what we had not before discovered, a boiling spring of tar- 
taric acid in solution, with deposits around the edge of the 
spring, of which we gathered a considerable quantity. In 
the basin where we had found so many mud springs we 
to-day found a hot boiling spring containing a substance of 
deep yellow color, the precise nature of which we could not 
readily ascertain. We accordingly brought away some of 
it in a bottle (as is our usual custom in such cases of un- 
certainty), and we will have an analysis of it made on our 
return home. In the same basin we also found some speci- 
mens of black lava. 

A half mile south of these springs we found an alum 
spring yielding but little water and surrounded with beau- 
tiful alum crystals. From its border we obtained a great 
many curiously shaped deposits of alum slightly impreg- 
nated with iron. The border of this spring below the sur- 
face had been undermined in many places by the violent 
boiling of the water, to the distance of several feet from 
the margin, so that it was unsafe to stand near the edge 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition ob" 1870. 47 

of the spring. This, however, I did not at first perceive; 
and, as I was unconcernedly passing by the spring, my 
weight made the border suddenly slough off beneath my feet. 
General Washburn noticed the sudden cracking of the in- 
crustation before I did, and I was aroused to a sense of my 
peril by his shout of alarm, and had sufficient presence of 
mind to fall suddenly backwards at full length upon the 
sound crust, whence, with my feet and legs extended over 
the spring, I roiled to a place of safety. But for General 
Washburn's shout of alarm, in another instant I would 
have been precipitated into this boiling pool of alum. We 
endeavored to sound the depth of this spring with a pole 
twenty-five feet long, but we found no bottom. 

Everything around us — air, earth, water — is impregnated 
with sulphur. We feel it in every drop of water we drink, 
and in every breath of air we inhale. Our silver watches 
have turned to the color of poor brass, tarnished. 

General Washburn and I again visited the mud vulcano 
to-day. I especially desired to see it again for the one es- 
pecial purpose, among others of a general nature, of assur- 
ing myself that the notes made in my diary a few days ago 
are not exaggerated. No! they are not! The sensations 
inspired in me to-day, on again witnessing its convulsions, 
and the dense clouds of vapor expelled in rapid succession 
from its crater, amid the jarring of the earth, and the omin- 
ous intonations from beneath, were those of mingled dread 
and wonder. At war with all former experience it was so 
novel, so unnaturally natural, that I feel while now writing 
and thinking of it, as if my own senses might have deceived 
me with a mere figment of the imagination. But it is not 
so. The wonder, than which this continent, teeming with 
nature's grandest exhibitions, contains nothing more mar- 
velous, still stands amid the solitary fastnesses of the Yel- 

48 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 

lowstone, to excite the astonishment of the thousands who 
in coming years shall visit that remarkable locality.* 

Returning to the camp we had left in the morning, we 
found the train had crossed the river, and we forded at the 
same place, visiting, however, on our way another large 
cauldron of boiling mud hing nearly opposite our camp. 
Soon after fording the river we discovered some evidence 
that trappers had long ago visited this region. Here we 
found that the earth had been thrown up two feet high, pre- 
senting an angle to the river, quite ingeniously concealed 
by willows, and forming a sort of rifle-pit, from which a 

*Dr. F. V. Hayden, geologist in charge of the U. S. Geological 
Survey, first visited this region in the summer of 1871 — the year 
following the visit of the Washburn party, whose discoveries and 
explorations are recorded in this diary. Dr. Hayden, on his re- 
turn, graphically described the various wonders which he saw, but 
had very little to say concerning the mud volcano. This fact was 
the more inexplicE^ble to me for the reason that the Washburn party 
thought it one of the most remarkable curiosities to be found in 
that region, and I was greatly surprised to find that Dr. Hayden 
made so little allusion to it. 

In 1872, the year following Dr. Hayden's first visit, I again vis- 
ited the volcano, and the omission by Hayden was explained as 
soon as I saw the volcano in its changed condition. The loud de- 
tonations which resembled the discharges of a gun-boat mortar 
were no longer heard, and the upper part of the crater and cone 
had in a great measure disappeared, leaving a shapeless and un- 
sightly hole much larger than the former crater, in which large 
tree-tops were swaying to and fro in the gurgling mass, forty feet 
below — the whole appearance bearing testimony to the terrible na- 
ture of the convulsion which wrought such destruction. Lieutenant 
Doane, in his official report to the War Department, thus describes 
the volcano as it appeared in 1870: 

"A few hundred yards from here is an object of the greatest 
interest. On the slope of a small and steep wooded ravine is the 
crater of a mud volcano, 30 feet in diameter at the rim, which is 
elevated a few feet above the surface on the lower side, and 
bounded by the slope of the hill on the upper, converging, as it 
deepens, to the diameter of 15 feet at the lowest visible point, about 
40 feet down. Heavy volumes of steam escape from this opening, 
ascending to the height of 300 feet. From far down in the earth 
came a jarring sound, in regular beats of five seconds, with a con- 
cussion that shook the ground at 200 yards' distance. After each 
concussion came a splash of mud, as if thrown to a great height; 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 49 

hunter without disclosing his hiding place could bring down 
swans, geese, ducks, pelicans, and even the furred animals 
that made their homes along the river bank. 

We followed the trail of the advance party along the bank 
of the river, and most of the way through a dense forest of 
pine timber and over a broad swampy lowland, when we 
came into their camp on the Yellowstone lake two miles 
from where it empties into the river, and about ten miles 
from our morning camp. We passed Brimstone basin on 
our left, and saw jets of steam rising from the hills back 
of it. From all appearances the I'ellowstone can be forded 

sometimes it could be seen from the edge of the crater, but none 
was entirely ejected while we were there. Occasionally an explo- 
sion was heard like the bursting of heavy guns behind an embank- 
ment, and causing the earth to tremble for a mile around. The 
distance to which this mud had been thrown is truly astonishing. 
The ground and falling trees near by were splashed at a horizontal 
distance of 200 feet. The trees below were either broken down 
or their branches festooned with dry mud, which appeared in the 
tops of the trees growing on the side hill from the same level with 
the crater, 50 feet in height, and at a distance of 180 feet from the 
volcano. The mud, to produce such effects, must have been thrown 
to a perpendicular elevation of at least 300 feet. It was with diffi- 
culty we could believe the evidence of our senses, and only after 
the most careful measurements could we realize the immensity of 
this wonderful phenomenon." 

The visitor to the Park who has read the description given by 
Washburn, Hedges, Doane or myself, of the mud volcano as it ap- 
peared in 1870, will readily perceive that it has undergone a great 
change since the time of its first discovery. 

In my account of my trip made in 1872, published in Scribner's 
(now Century) Magazine for June, 1873, I say, concerning this 
change: "A large excavation remained; and a seething, bubbling 
mass of mud, with several tree-tops swaying to and fro in the midst, 
told how terrible and how effectual must have been the explosions 
which produced such devastation. I could not realize that in this 
unsightly hole I beheld all that was left of those physical wonders 
which filled this extraordinary region. * * * Great trees that 
then decorated the hillside were now completely submerged in the 
boiling mass that remained." 

The trees with their green tops, which were visible in 1872, have 
now entirely disappeared. Can any one conjecture what has be- 
come of them? 

50 Washburn Ypjllowstone Expedition of 1870. 

at almost any point between the rapids just above the upper 
fall and the lake, unless there are quicksands and crevices 
which must be avoided. 

Yellowstone lake, as seen from our camp to-night, seems 
to me to be the most beautiful body of water in the world. 
In front of our camp it has a wide sandy beach like that of 
the ocean, w^hich extends for miles and as far as the eye 
can reach, save that occasionally there is to be found a 
sharp projection of rocks. The overlooking bench rises 
from the water's edge about eight feet, forming a bank of 
sand or natural levee, which serves to prevent the overflow 
of the land adjoining, which, when the lake is receiving the 
water from the mountain streams that empty into it while 
the snows are melting, is several feet below the surface of 
the lake. On the shore of the lake, within three or four 
miles of our camp, are to be found specimens of sandstone, 
resembling clay, of sizes varying from that of a walnut to a 
flour barrel, and of every odd shape imaginable. Fire and 
water have been at work here together — fire to throw out 
the deposit in a rough shape, and water to polish it. From 
our camp we can see several islands from five to ten miles 
distant in a direct line. Two of the three '^Tetons,'' which 
are so plainly visible to travelers going to Montana from 
Eagle Rock bridge on Snake river, and which are such well- 
known and prominent landmarks on that stage route, we 
notice to-night in the direction of south 25 degrees west 
from our camp. We shall be nearer to them on our journey 
around the lake. 

Sunda}^, September 4. — This morning at breakfast time 
Lieutenant Doane was sleeping soundly and snoring sono- 
rously, and we decided that we would not waken him, but 
would remain in camp till the afternoon and perhaps until 
morning. Walter Trumbull suggested that a proper defer- 
ence to Jake Smith's religious sentiments ought to be a 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 51 

sufficient reason for not traveling on Sunday, whereupon 
Jake immediately exclaimed, "If we're going to remain in 
camp, let's have a game of draw." 

Last evening Lieutenant Doane's sufferings were so in- 
tense that General Washburn and I insisted that he submit 
to an operation, and have the felon opened, and he con- 
sented provided I would administer chloroform. Prepara- 
tions were accordingly made after supper. A box contain- 
ing army cartridges was improvised as an operating table, 
and I engaged Mr. Bean, one of our packers, and Mr. Hedg- 
es as assistant surgeons. Hedges was to take his posi- 
tion at Doane's elbow, and was to watch my motion as I 
thrust in the knife blade, and hold the elbow and fore-arm 
firmly to prevent any involuntary drawing back of the arm 
by Lieutenant Doane, at the critical moment. When Doane 
was told that we were ready, he asked, "Where is the 
chloroform?" I replied that I had never administered it, 
and that after thinking the matter over I was afraid to 
assume the responsibility of giving it. He swallowed his 
disappointment, and turned his thumb over on the cartridge 
box, with the nail down. Hedges and Bean were on hand 
to steady the arm, and before one could say "Jack Robin- 
son," I had inserted the point of my penknife, thrusting it 
down to the bone, and had ripped it out to the end of the 
thumb. Doane gave one shriek as the released corruption 
flew out in all directions upon surgeon and assistants, and 
then with a broad smile on his face he exclaimed, "That 
was elegant!" We then applied a poultice of bread and 
water, which we renewed a half hour later, and Doane at 
about eight o'clock last night dropped off into a seemingly 
peaceful sleep, which has been continuous up to the time 
of this writing, two o'clock p. m.* 

♦Lieutenant Doane, on page 19 of his report to the War Depart- 
ment, says with reference to this surgical operation: 

52 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

Evening of September 4. — I have been glad to have this 
rest to-day, for with the time spent in writing up a de- 
tailed diary in addition to the work about camp, I have 
been putting in about sixteen hours work each day. So 
this afternoon a nap of two or three hours was a pleasant 
rest. I strolled for a long distance down the shore, the 
sand of which abounds in small crystals, which some of 
our party think may possess some value. Craters emitting 
steam through the water are frequently seen beneath the 
surface, at a distance of from forty to fifty feet from its 
margin, the water in which is very hot, while that of the 
lake surrounding them I found to be too cool for a pleasant 
bath. In some places the lake water is strongly impreg- 
nated with sulphur. One crater emits a jet of steam with 
a hissing noise as loud as that usually heard at the blow- 
ing off of the safety valve of a steamboat. In the clear 
light of the setting sun, we can see the three Tetons in a 
southwesterly direction. 

Some member of our party has asked what is the meaning 
Of the word "Teton" given to these mountains.* Lieutenant 

"I had on the previous evening teen nine days and nights with- 
out sleep or rest, and was becoming very much reduced. My hand 
was enormously swelled, and even ice water ceased to relieve the 
pain. I could scarcely walk at all, from excessive weakness. The 
most powerful opiates had ceased to have any effect. A consulta- 
tion was held, which resulted in having the thumb split open. Mr. 
Langford performed the operation in a masterly manner, dividing 
thumb, bone, and all. An explosion ensued, followed by immediate 
relief, I slept through the night, all day, and the next night, and 
felt much better. To Mr. Langford, General Washburn, Mr. Stick- 
ney and the others of the party I owe a lasting debt for their uni- 
form kindness and attention in the hour of need." 

♦Repeated efforts to ascend the Grand Teton, made prior to the 
year 1872, all terminated in failure. On the 29th day of July of that 
year the summit was reached by James Stevenson, of the U. S. Geo- 
logical Survey, and Nathaniel P. Langford, the writer of this diary. 
An account of this ascent was published in Scribner's (now Cen- 
tury) Magazine for June, 1873. The next ascent was made in 1898 
by Rev. Frank S. Spalding, of Erie, Pennsylvania, and W. O. Owen, 



Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 53 

Doane says it is a French word signifying "Woman's 
Breast," and that it was given to these mountains by the 
early French explorers, because of their peculiar shape. I 
think that the man who gave them this name must have 
seen them from a great distance ; for as we approach them, 
the graceful curvilinear lines which obtained for them this 
delicate appellation appear angular and ragged. From our 
present point of view the name seems a misnomer. If there 
were twelve of them instead of three, they might better be 
called the "Titans," to illustrate their relation to the sur- 
rounding country. He indeed must have been of a most 
susceptible nature, and, I would fain believe, long a dweller 
amid these solitudes, who could trace in these cold and bar- 
ren peaks any resemblance to the gentle bosom of woman. 

Monday, September 5. — Lieutenant Doane continued to 
sleep all last night, making a thirty-six hours nap, and 
after dressing his thumb and taking an observation to 
determine our elevation, which we found to be 7714 feet 
above the ocean, we broke camp at nine o'clock. After the 
train had got under way, I asked Mr. Hedges to remain 
behind and assist me in measuring, by a rude system of 
triangulation, the distance across the lake as well as to 
the Tetons; but owing to the difificulty we encountered in 
laying out a base line of sufficient length, we abandoned 
the scheme after some two hours of useless labor. 

of Wyoming, and two assistants. This ascent was accomplished 
after two failures of Mr. Owen in previous years to reach the sum- 
mit. Mr. Owen then asserted that the summit of the mountain was 
not reached in 1872 by Stevenson and Langford. His efforts — in which 
Mr. Spalding had no part — to impeach the statement of these gen- 
tlemen failed utterly. Mr. Spalding, who was the first member of 
his party to reach the summit, writes: "I believe that Mr. Lang- 
ford reached the summit because he says he did, and because the 
difficulties of the ascent were not great enough to have prevented 
any good climber from having successfully scaled the peak, * * * 
and I cannot understand why Mr. Owen failed so many times before 
he succeeded." 


Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

Following the trail of the advance party, we traveled 
along the lake beach for about six miles, passing a number 
of small hot sulphur springs and lukewarm sulphur ponds, 
and three hot steam jets surrounded by sulphur incrusta- 
tions. After six miles, we left the beach, and traveled on 
the plateau overlooking the lake. This plateau was cov- 
ered with a luxuriant growth of standing pine and a great 
deal of fallen timber, through which at times considerable 

Slate Cup. Leg and Foot. 

difficulty was experienced in passing. A little way from 
the trail is an alkaline spring about six feet in diameter. 
We came to camp on the shore of the lake, after having 
marched fifteen miles in a southerly direction. We have 
a most beautiful view of the lake from our camp. Yester- 
day it lay before us calm and unruffled, save by the waves 
which gently broke upon the shore. To-day the winds lash 
it into a raging sea, covering its surface with foam, while 
the sparkling sand along the shore seems to form for it a 
jeweled setting, and the long promontories stretching out 
into it, with their dense covering of pines, lend a charm- 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 55 

ing feature to the scene. Water never seemed so beautiful 
before. Waves four feet high are rolling in, and there 
appear to be six or seven large islands; but we cannot be 
certain about this number until we reach the south shore. 
From this point we cannot tell whether the wooded hills 
before us are islands or promontories. On the shore are to 
be found large numbers of carnelians or crystallized quartz, 
agates, specimens of petrified wood, and lava pebbles or 
globules. We have found also many curious objects of slate 
formation, resembling hollowed-out cups, discs, and two 
well formed resemblances of a leg and foot, and many 
other curious objects which Nature in her most capricious 
mood has scattered over this watery solitude. All these 
seem to be the joint production of fire and water; the fire 
forming and baking them, and the water polishing them. 
We called this place ^^Curiosity Point." 

If Mount Washington were set in the lake, its summit 
would be two thousand feet below the surface of the water. 

To-night a conference of the party was held, to decide 
whether we would continue our journey around the lake, or 
retrace our steps and pass along the north side of the lake 
over to the Madison. By a vote of six to three we have de- 
cided to go around the lake. Mr. Hauser voted in favor of 
returning by way of the north side. My vote was cast for 
going around the lake. 

As we passed along the shore to-day, we could see the 
steam rising from a large group of hot springs on the 
opposite shore of the lake bordering on what seems to be 
the most westerly bay or estuary.* We will have an oppor- 
tunity to examine them at short range, when we have com- 
pleted our journey around the lake. 

♦The bay here referred to is at the "Thutnb" Station. 

56 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

Tuesday, September G. — We broke camp at ten thirty 
this morning, bearing well to the south-east for an hour and 
then turning nearly due south, our trail running through 
the woods, and for a large part of our route throughout 
the day, through fallen timber, which greatly impeded our 
progress. We did not make over ten miles in our day's 
travel. Frequently we were obliged to leave the trail run- 
ning through the woods, and return to the lake, and fol- 
low the beach for some distance. We passed along the base 
of a brimstone basin, the mountains forming a semi-circle 
half way around it, the lake completing the circle. In com- 
pany with Lieutenant Doane I went up the side of the 
mountain, which for the distance of three or four miles 
and about half way to the summit is covered with what ap- 
pears to be sulphate (?) of lime and flowers of sulphur 
mixed. Exhalations are rising from all parts of the ground 
at times, the odor of brimstone being quite strong ; but the 
volcanic action in this vicinity is evidently decreasing. 

About half way up the deposit on the mountain side a 
number of small rivulets take their rise, having sulphur in 
solution, and farther down the mountain and near the base 
are the dry beds of several streams from ten to twenty feet 
in width, which bear evidence of having at some time been 
full to the banks (two or three feet deep) with sulphur 
water. The small streams now running are warm. 

The side of the mountain over which we rode, seems for 
the most part to be hollow, giving forth a rumbling sound 
beneath the feet, as we rode upon the crust, which is very 
strong. In no instance did it give way as did the crust at 
"Crater hill," under which the fires were raging, though 
the incrustation appears to be very similar, abounding in 
vents and fissures and emitting suffocating exhalations of 
sulphur vapor. • 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 57 

On the sides of the mountain were old fissures, surrounded 
by rusty looking sulphur incrustations, now nearly washed 
away. The whole mountain gives evidence of having been, 
a long time ago, in just the same condition of conflagra- 
tion as that in which we found "Crater hill;" but all out- 
ward trace of fire has now disappeared, save what is found 
in the warm water of the small streams running down the 

Our course for the past two days has been in nearly a 
south-southeast direction, or about parallel with the Wind 
river mountains. We have today seen an abundance of the 
tracks of elk and bears, and occasionally the track of a 
mountain lion. 

Wednesday, September 7. — Last night when all but the 
guards were asleep, we were startled by a mountain lion-s 
shrill scream, sounding so like the human voice that for a 
moment I was deceived by it into believing that some trav- 
eler in distress was hailing our camp. The stream near the 
bank of which our camp lay, flows into the southeast arm of 
Yellowstone lake, and for which the name "Upper Y^ellow- 
stone" has been suggested by some of our party; but Lieu- 
tenant Doane says that he thinks he has seen on an old map 
the name "Bridger" given to some body of water near the 
Yellowstone. We tried to cross the river near its mouth, 
but found the mud in the bed of the stream and in the bot- 
tom lands adjoining too deep; our horses miring down to 
their bellies. In accordance with plans agreed upon last 
night. General Washburn and a few of the party started out 
this morning in advance of the others to search for a practi- 
cable crossing of the river and marshes, leaving the pack 
train in camp. 

In company with Lieutenant Doane I went out upon a 
reconnaissance for the purpose of determining the eleva- 
tion of the mountains opposite our camp, as well as the 

58 Wasiibuiin Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

shape of the lake as far as we could see the shore, and also 
to determine as far as possible our locality and the best 
line of travel to follow in passing around the lake. There 
is just enough excitement attending these scouting expedi- 
tions to make them a real pleasure, overbalancing the labor 
attendant upon them. There is very little probability that 
any large band of Indians will be met with on this side of 
the lake, owing to the superstitions which originate in the 
volcanic forces here found. 

We followed along the high bank adjacent to the bottom 
through which the river runs in a direction a little south 
of east for the distance of about three miles, when we en- 
tered a heavily timbered ravine, which we followed through 
the underbrush for some three miles, being frequently 
obliged to dismount and lead our horses over the projecting 
rocks, or plunging through bushes and fallen timber. At 
the end of two hours we reached a point in the ascent 
where we could no longer ride in safety, nor could our 
horses climb the mountain side with the w^eight of our bod- 
ies on their backs. Dismounting, we took the bridle reins 
in our hands, and for the space of an hour we led our horses 
up the steep mountain side, when we again mounted and 
slowly climbed on our way, occasionally stopping to give 
our horses a chance to breathe. Arriving at the limit of 
timber and of vegetation, we tied our horses, and then com- 
menced the ascent of the steepest part of the mountain, 
over the broken granite, great care being necessary to avoid 
sliding down the mountain side with the loose granite. 
The ascent occupied us a little more than four hours, and 
all along the mountain side, even to near the summit, we 
saw the tracks of mountain sheep. The view from the sum- 
mit of this mountain, for wild and rugged grandeur, is sur- 
passed by none I ever before saw. The Yellowstone basin 
and the Wind river mountains were spread out before us 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 59 

like a map. On the south the eye followed the source of 
the Yellowstone above the lake, until, twenty-five miles 
away, it was lost in an immense canon, beyond which two 
immense jets of vapor rose to a height of probably three 
hundred feet, indicating that there were other and perhaps 
greater wonders than those embraced in our prescribed 
limit of exploration. On the north the outlet of the lake 
and the steam from the mud geyser and mud volcano were 
distinctly visible, while on the southeast the view followed 
to the horizon a succession of lofty peaks and ridges at least 
thirty miles in width, whose jagged slopes were filled with 
yawning caverns, pine-embowered recesses and beetling 
precipices, some hundreds and some thousands of feet in 
height. This is the range which Captain Raynolds, ap- 
proaching from the east, found impassable while on his ex- 
ploring tour to the Yellowstone in the year 1860. I shall, 
upon my return home, read Captain Raynolds' report with 
renewed interest.* 

The mountain on which we stood was the most westerly 
peak of a range which, in long extended volume, swept to 
the southeastern horizon, exhibiting a continuous elevation 

♦Captain Raynolds wrote on May 10, 1860: "To our front and 
upon the right the mountains towered above us to the height of 
from 2,000 to 3,000 feet in the shape of bold, craggy peaks of 
basaltic formation, their summits crowned with glistening snow. 
* * * * It was my original desire to go from the head of Wind 
river to the head of the Yellowstone, keeping on the Atlantic slope, 
thence down the Yellowstone, passing the lake ,and across by the 
Gallatin to the Three forks of the Missouri. B'ridger said, at the 
outset, that this would be impossible, and that it would be neces- 
sary to pass over to the head waters of the Columbia, and back 
again to the Yellowstone. I had not previously believed that cross- 
ing the main crest twice would be more easily accomplished than 
the travel over what in effect is only a spur; but the view from our 
present camp settled the question adversely to my opinion at once. 
Directly across our route lies a basaltic ridge, rising not less than 
5,000 feet above us, the walls apparently vertical, with no visible 
pass nor even caiion. On the opposite side of this are the head 
waters of the Yellowstone." 

60 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

more than thirty miles in width, its central line broken into 
countless points, knobs, glens and defiles, all on the most 
colossal scale of grandeur and magnificence. Outside of these, 
on either border, along the entire range, lofty peaks rose 
at intervals, seemingly vying with each other in the varied 
splendors they presented to the beholder. The scene was 
full of majesty. The valley at the base of this range was 
dotted with small lakes. Lakes abound everywhere — in the 
valleys, on the mountains and farther down on their slopes, 
at all elevations. The appearance of the whole range was 
suggestive of the existence, ages since, of a high plateau on 
a level with these peaks (which seemed to be all of the same 
elevation), which by the action of the water had been cut 
down in the intervals between the peaks into deep gorges 
and canons. The sides of the mountains formed in many 
places a perpendicular wall from 600 to 1,000 feet in height. 

This range of mountains has a marvelous history. As it 
is the loftiest, so it is probably the most remarkable lateral 
ridge of the Rocky range. In the expedition sent across the 
continent by Mr. Astor, in 1811, under command of Captain 
Wilson P. Hunt, that gentleman met with the first serious 
obstacle to his progress at the eastern base of this range. 
After numerous efforts to scale it, he turned away and fol- 
lowed the valley of Snake river, encountering the most dis- 
couraging disasters until he arrived at Astoria.* 

I have read somewhere (I think in Washington Irving's 
"Astoria" or "Bonneville's Adventures") that the Indians 

♦Later, in 1833, the indomitable Captain Bonneville was lost in 
this mountain labyrinth, and, after devising various modes of es- 
cape, finally determined to ascend the range. 

Washington Irving, in his charming history, "Bonneville's Ad- 
ventures," thus describes the efforts of General Bonneville and one 
of his comrades to reach the summit of this range: 

"After much toil he reached the summit of a lofty cliff, but it 
was only to behold gigantic peaks rising all around, and towering 
far into the snowy regions of the atmosphere. He soon found that 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 61 

regard this ridge of mountains as the crest of the world, 
and that among the Blackfeet there is a fable that he who 
attains its summit catches a view of the "Land of Souls" 
and beholds the "Happy Hunting Grounds" spread out be- 
low him, brightening with the abodes of the free and gen- 
erous spirits. 

Lieutenant Doane and I were somewhat fatigued with 
our climb of four hours' duration, and we refreshed our- 
selves with such creature comforts as we found on the sum- 
mit; but, although we attained the "crest," we did not dis- 
cern any "free and generous spirit," save that which we 
saw "through a glass darkly." 

At the point where we left our horses there was, on the 
east slope of the mountain, a body of snow, the surface of 
which was nearly horizontal, and the outer edge of which 
was thirty feet in perpendicular height. This body of snow 
is perpetual. At this point the elevation, as indicated by 
our aneroid barometer, was 9,476 feet, while at the summit 
it was 10,327 feet, a difference of 581 feet, which was the 
broken granite summit. 

The descent occupied an hour and a quarter, when we 
struck the trail of the pack train near the base of the 
mountain, which we followed until we found three poles 
placed in the form of a tripod, the longer pole pointing to 

he had undertaken a tremendous task; but the pride of man is 
never more obstinate than when climbing mountains. The ascent 
was so steep and rugged that he and his companion were frequently 
obliged to clamber on haads and knees, with their guns slung upon 
their backs. Frequently, exhausted with fatigue and dripping with 
perspiration, they threw themselves upon the snow, and took hand- 
fuls of it to allay their parching thirst. At one place they even 
stripped off their coats and hung them upon the bushes, and thus 
lightly clad proceeded to scramble over these eternal snows. As 
they ascended still higher there were cool breezes that refreshed 
and braced them, and, springing with new ardor to their task, they 
at length attained the summit." 

62 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

the right to indicate that at this point the party had 
changed its course. 

Obeying this Indian sign, we descended the bank border- 
ing the valley and traversed the bottom lands to the river, 
which we forded at a point where it was about ninety feet 
wide and three feet deep, with a current of about six miles 
an hour. This was about six or seven miles from the mouth 
of the river. We followed the trail of the advance party 
through a beautiful pine forest, free from underbrush, for 
the distance of two miles, passing two beautiful lakes. By 
this time night had overtaken us, and it was with difficulty 
that we could follow the trail, the tracks of the horses' 
shoes, which were our sole. guide, being hardly discernible. 
But we pressed on, following the dark, serpentine line of 
freshly disturbed earth till it turned up the side of the 
mountain, where we followed it for upwards of a mile. 
Fearing lest we were not upon the right trail, we dismount- 
ed, and, placing our faces close to the ground, examined it 
carefully, but could not discover the impression of a single 
horseshoe. Gathering a few dry branches of pine, we kin- 
dled a fire upon the trail, when we discovered that we had 
been following, from the base of the mountain, the trail of 
a band of elk that had crossed the line of travel of the pack 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 


train at a point near the base of the mountain, and in the 
dim twilight we had not discovered the mistake. 

The prospect for a night on the mountain, without blank- 
ets or supper, seemed now very good; but we retraced our 


As known between 1860 and 1870. 

From the map of 

Kaynolds' Expedition of 1860. 

steps as rapidly as possible, and on reaching the base of 
the mountain, struck out for the lake, resolving to follow 
the beach, trusting that our party had made their camp on 


Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 




Copy of 

the original outline sketched by 

Nathaniel P. Langford 

from the top of Mount Langford, Sept. 7, 1870, 

and completed Sept. 10 and 13. 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 65 

the shore of the lake, in which case we should find them; 
but if camped at any considerable distance from the shore, 
we should not find them. Our ride over fallen timber and 
through morass for the distance of about two miles to the 
shore of the lake was probably performed more skillfully 
in the darkness of the night than if we had seen the ob- 
stacles in our path, and as we rounded a point on the smooth 
beach we saw at a distance of a little over a mile the wel- 
come watch fire of our comrades. When we arrived within 
hailing distance we gave a loud halloo, and the ready re- 
sponse by a dozen sympathetic voices of our companions-in- 
arms showed that our own anxiety had been shared by 
them. Our camp to-night is on the westerly side of the 
most southeasterly bay of the lake. These bays are sepa- 
rated by long points of land extending far out into the lake. 
From our camp of two days ago some of these points seemed 
to be islands. From the top of the mountain, which Doane 
and I ascended to-day, I made an outline map of the north 
and east sides of the lake and part of the south side; but 
on account of the heavy timber on the promontories I could 
not make a correct outline of the south and west shores. 
General Washburn and Hauser, as well as myself, have thus 
far made outlines of the lake shore as best we could from 
points on a level with the lake, but these have been unsatis- 
factory and have lacked completeness, and Washburn and 
Hauser have both expressed their satisfaction with the 
sketch of the lake shore I made to-day from the top of the 
mountain ; and Washburn has just told me that Lieutenant 
Doane has suggested that, as I was the first to reach the 
summit of the mountain, the peak should be named for me. 
I shall be gratified if this is done.* 

♦Soon after the return of our party to Helena, General Wash- 
burn, then surveyor-general of Montana, made in his office for the 
Interior Department at Washington, a map of the Yellowstone 

66 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

We have traveled from our morning camp about twelve 
miles, but we are not more than four miles from it in a 
straight line. 

Thursday, September 8. — Travel to-day has led us in zig- 
zag directions over fallen timber some twelve miles. 
We have halted on a small creek about one mile from the 
most southerly arm of the lake and about seven miles in a 
straight line from our morning camp. 

This has been a terrible day for both men and horses. The 
standing trees are so thick that we often found it impossible 

region, a copy of which he gave to me. He told me that in recog- 
nition of the assistance 1 had rendered him in making a fair outline 
of Yellowstone lake, with its indented shore and promontories, he 
had named for me the mountain on the top of which I stood when 
I made the sketch of the south shore of the lake. I called his 
attention to the fact that Lieutenant Doane had been my comrade 
in making the ascent, and suggested that Doane's name be given 
to the adjoining peak on the north. He approved of this suggestion, 
and the map, with these mountains so named, was transmitted to 
the Interior Department. 

Dr. Hayden, the geologist in charge of the United States geo- 
logical survey, made his first visit to this region the following year 
(1871), and on the map which he issued in connection with his 1871 
report, the name "Mount Langford" was given to another mountain 
far to the northeast. Since that time my name has again been 
transferred to a mountain on the southeast. I think that Dr. Hayden 
must have been av/are at that time that this mountain bore my 
name; for he had read the account of the Washburn exploration, 
which was published in Scribner's Magazine for May, 1871, accom- 
panied by a copy of the map made by General Washburn. 

The significance of connecting my name with this mountain is 
centered in the circumstance that it was intended to mark or com- 
memorate an important event — that of giving to the public a very 
correct outline map of Yellowstone lake. In confirmation of the 
fact that the first outline of the lake approximating any degree of 
accuracy was made from the mountain-top, I here quote from 
page 21 of Lieutenant Doane's report to the War Department. 

"The view from this peak commanded completely the lake, en- 
abling us to sketch a map of its inlets and bearings with consid- 
erable accuracy." 

On page 23 of this report Lieutenant Doane speaks of this moun- 
tain as "Mount Langford." The map last published previous to 
that made by General Washburn was that of Captain Raynolds, of 
which I here present a copy, as well as a copy of the map made 
by me. 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 67 

to find a space wide enough for the pack animals to squeeze 
through, and we were frequently separated from each other 
in a search for a route. Hedges and Stickney, in this way, 
became separated from the rest of the party, and after suf- 
fering all the feelings of desolation at being lost in this 
wilderness, accidentally stumbled upon our camp, and they 
freely expressed their joy at their good fortune in being 
restored to the party. I fully sympathized with them, for, 
speaking from a personal experience of a similar character 
which I had in 1802, I can say that a man can have no more 
complete sense of utter desolation than that which over- 
whelms him when he realizes that he is lost. 

At one point while they were seeking some sign of the 
trail made by the rest of the party, a huge grizzly bear 
dashed by them, frightening Hedges' horse, which broke his 
bridle and ran away. 

After supper Washburn and Hauser went up on the ridge 
back of the camp to reconnoiter and ran across a she grizzly 
and her two cubs. Being unarmed, they hastily returned 
to camp for their guns, and five or six of us joined them in 
a bear hunt. The members of this hunting party were all 
elated at the thought of bagging a fine grizzly, which seemed 
an easy prey. What could one grizzly do against six hunt- 
ers when her instinctive duty would lead her to hurry her 
little ones to a place of safety I 

While putting our guns in order and making other prepa- 
rations for the attack, an animated discussion took place 
concerning a proper disposition of the two cubs which were 
to be captured alive. Some of our party thought that they 
ought to be carried home to Helena, but Bean and Reynolds, 
our packers, being appealed to, thought the plan not feasible 
unless they could be utilized as pack animals. When we 
reached the spot where Washburn and Hauser had last seen 
the bear, we traced her into a dense thicket, which, owing to 

G8 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

the darkness, we did not care to penetrate, for not one of us 
felt that we had lost that particular bear. Jake Smith, 
with more of good sense than usual, but with his usual lack 
of scriptural accuracy, remarked, "I always considered Dan- 
iel a great fool to go into a den of bears."* 

Our journey for the entire day has been most trying, lead- 
ing us through a trackless forest of pines encumbered on 
all sides by prostrate trunks of trees. The difficulty of urg- 
ing forward our pack train, making choice of routes, extri- 
cating the horses when wedged between the trees, and re-ad- 
justing the packs so that they would not project beyond the 

*0n our return to Helena, Walter Trumbull published, in the 
Helena Gazette, some incidents of our trip, and from his narrative 
I copy the following account of our hunt for the grizzly: 

"Some of the party who had gone a short distance ahead to find 
out the best course to take the next day, soon returned and report- 
ed a grizzly and her two cubs about a quarter of a mile from camp. 
Six of the party decorated themselves as walking armories, and at 
once started in pursuit. Each individual was sandwiched between 
two revolvers and a knife, was supported around the middle by a 
belt of cartridges, and carried in his hand a needle carbine. Each 
one was particularly anxious to be the first to catch the bear, and 
an exciting foot-race ensued until the party got within 300 yards of 
the place where the bear was supposed to be concealed. The fore- 
most man then suddenly got out of breath, and, in fact, they all got 
out of breath. It was an epidemic. A halt was made, and the 
brute loudly dared to come out and show itself, while a spirited 
discussion took place as to what was best to do with the cubs. The 
location was a mountain side, thickly timbered with tall straight 
pines having no limbs within thirty feet of the ground. It was 
decided to advance more cautiously to avoid frightening the animal, 
and every tree which there was any chance of climbing was watched 
with religious care, in order to intercept her should she attempt to 
take refuge in its branches. An hour was passed in vain search 
for the sneaking beast, which had evidently taken to flight. Then 
this formidable war party returned to camp, having a big disgust 
at the cowardly conduct of the bear, but, as the darkle said, 'not 
having it bad.' Just before getting in sight of camp, the six invinci- 
bles discharged their firearms simultaneously, in order to show 
those remaining behind just how they would have slaughtered the 
bear, but more particularly just how they did not. This was called 
the 'Bear Camp.' " 

Mr. Trumbull was one of the party of hunters whose efforts to 
capture the bear he so well describes. 

^^^' 0^^;^,/^^^ 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. G9 

sides of the horses, required constant patience and untiring 
toil, and the struggle between our own docility and the obsta- 
cles in our way, not unfrequently resulted in fits of sullen- 
ness or explosions of wrath which bore no slight resem- 
blance to the volcanic forces of the country itself. 

On one of these occasions when we were in a vast net of 
down timber and brush, and each man was insisting upon 
his own particular mode of extrication, and when our tem- 
pers had been sorely tried and we were in the most unsocial 
of humors, speaking only in half angry expletives, I re- 
called that beautiful line in Byron's "Childe Harold," 
"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods," which I re- 
cited with all the "ore rotundo" I could command, which 
struck the ludicrous vein of the company and produced an 
instantaneous response of uproarious laughter, which, so 
sudden is the transition between extremes, had the effect 
to restore harmony and sociability, and, in fact, to create a 
pleasure in the pathless wilderness we were traveling. 

One of our pack horses is at once a source of anxiety 
and amusement to us all. He is a remarkable animal owned 
by Judge Hedges, who, however, makes no pretentions to 
being a good judge of horses. Mr. Hedges says that the 
man from whom he purchased the animal, in descanting 
upon his many excellent qualities, said: "He is that kind 
of an animal that drives the whole herd before him." The 
man spoke truly, but Mr. Hedges did not properly interpret 
the encomium, nor did he realize that the seller meant to 
declare that the animal, from sheer exhaustion, would 
always be lagging behind the others of the herd. From the 
start, and especially during our journey through the forest, 
this pony, by his acrobatic performances and mishaps, has 
furnished much amusement for us all. Progress to-day 
could only be accomplished by leaping our animals over the 
fallen trunks of trees. Our little broncho, with all the 


Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

spirit necessary, lacks oftentimes the power to scale the 
tree trunks. As a consequence, he is frequently found 
resting upon his midriff with his fore and hind feet sus- 
pended over the opposite sides of some huge log. ^'The spirit 


indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." He has an am- 
bitious spirit, which is exceeded only by his patience. He 
has had many mishaps, any one of which would have per- 
manently disabled a larger animal, and we have dubbed him 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 71 

"Little Invulnerable." One of the soldiers of our escort, 
Private Moore, has made a sketch of him as he appeared 
to-day lying across a log, of which I am to have a copy. 

I growled at Hauser and scolded him a little in camp to- 
night because of some exasperating action of his. I here 
record the fact without going into details. I think that I 
must try to be more patient. But I am feeling somewhat 
the fatigue of our journey. However, there is something to 
be said on the other hand, and that is that there is no one 
of the party better able to bear its labors and anxieties than 
I, and therefore I should be the last man to lose my patience. 

I know of nothing that can try one's patience more than 
a trip of any considerable length by wagon train or pack 
train through an uninhabited region, and the most amiable 
of our race cannot pass this ordeal entirely unscathed. 
Persons who are not blessed with uncommon equanimity 
never get through such a journey without frequent explo- 
sions of temper, and seldom without violence. Even educa- 
tion, gentle training and the sharpest of mental discipline 
do not always so effectually subdue the passions that they 
may not be aroused into unwonted fury during a long jour- 
ney through a country filled with obstructions. Philosophy 
has never found a fitter subject for its exercise than that 
afforded by the journey we are now making, which obliges 
the members of our party to strive to relieve each other's 

Friday, September 9. — Last night there occurred an inci- 
dent which I would gladly blot from these pages, but a faith- 
ful record of all the events of camp life in connection with 
this expedition demands that I omit nothing of interest, nor 
set down "aught in malice." 

Mr. Hedges and I were on guard during the last relief of 
the night, which extends from the "Wee sma' hours ayont 
the twal" to daybreak. The night was wearing on when 

72 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

Hedges, being tempted of one of the Devils which doubtless 
roam around this sulphurous region, or that perhaps fol- 
lowed Lieutenant Doane and myself down from that "high 
mountain apart" where the spirits roam, asked me if I was 
hungry. I replied that such had been my normal condition 
ever since our larder had perceptibly declined. Mr. Hedges 
then suggested that, as there was no food already cooked in 
the camp, we take each a wing of one of the partridges and 
broil it over our small tire. It was a "beautiful thought," 
as Judge Bradford of Colorado used to say from the bench 
when some knotty legal problem relating to a case he was 
trying had been solved, and was speedily acted upon by both 
of us. But I was disappointed in finding so little meat on 
a partridge wing, and believed that Hedges would have 
chosen a leg instead of a wing, if he had pondered a mo- 
ment, so I remedied the omission, and, as a result, each 
roasted a leg of the bird. Soon increase of appetite grew 
by what it fed on, and the breast of the bird was soon on 
the broiler. 

In the meantime our consciences were not idle, and we 
were "pricked in our hearts." The result was that we had 
a vision of the disappointment of our comrades, as each 
should receive at our morning breakfast his small allotment 
of but one partridge distributed among so many, and it did 
not take us long to send the remaining bird to join its mate. 
Taking into consideration the welfare of our comrades, it 
seemed the best thing for us to do, and we debated between 
ourselves whether the birds would be missed in the morn- 
ing. Hedges taking the affirmative and I the negative side 
of the question. 

This morning when our breakfast was well nigh finished, 
Mr. Hauser asked "Newt," the head cook, why he had not 
prepared the partridges for breakfast. "Newt" answered 
that when he opened the pan this morning the birds had 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 73 

"done gone," and he thought that "Booby" (the dog) had 
eaten them. Whereupon Hauser pelted the dog with stones 
and sticks. Hedges and I, nearly bursting with our sup- 
pressed laughter, quietly exchanged glances across the table, 
and the situation became quite intense for us, as we strove 
to restrain our risibles while listening to the comments of 
the party on the utter worthlessness of "that dog Booby." 
Suddenly the camp was electrified by Gillette asking, "Who 
was on guard last night?" "That's it," said one. "That's 
where the birds went," said another. This denouement was 
too much for Hedges and myself, and amid uproarious 
laughter we made confession, and "Booby" was relieved 
from his disgrace and called back into the camp, and patted 
on the head as a "good dog," and he has now more friends 
in camp than ever before. 

Mr. Hauser, who brought down the birds with two well 
directed shots with his revolver, made from the back of his 
horse without halting the animal, had expected to have a 
dainty breakfast, but he is himself too fond of a practical 
joke to express any disappointment, and no one in the party 
is more unconcerned at the outcome than he. He is a 
philosopher, and, as I know from eight years' association 
with him, does not worry over the evils which he can rem- 
edy, nor those which he cannot remedy. There can be found 
no better man than he for such a trip as we are making. 

"Booby" is taking more kindly, day by day, to the buck- 
skin moccasins which "Newt" made and tied on his feet a 
few days ago. When he was first shod with them he rebelled 
and tore them off with his teeth, but I think he has discov- 
ered that they lessen his sufferings, which shows that he has 
some good dog sense left, and that probably his name 
"Booby" is a misnomer. I think there is a great deal of 
good in the animal. He is ever on the alert for unusual 
noises or sounds, and the assurance which I have that he 

74 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

will give the alarm in case any thieving Indians shall ap- 
proach our camp in the night is a great relief to my anxiety 
lest some straggling band of the Crows may "set us afoot." 
Jake Smith was on guard three nights ago, and he was so 
indifferent to the question of safety from attack that he en- 




joyed a comfortable nap while doing guard duty, and I have 
asked our artist. Private Moore, to make for me a sketch 
of Smith as I found him sound asleep with his saddle for 
a pillow. Jake might well adopt as a motto suitable for his 
guidance while doing guard duty, "Requiescat in pace." 
Doubtless Jake thought, "Shall I not take mine ease in mine 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 75 

iDD?" I say thought for I doubt if Jake can give a correct 
verbal rendering of tlie sentence. A few evenings ago he 
jocosely thought to establish, by a quotation from Shakes- 
peare, the unreliability of a member of our party who was 
telling what seemed a "fish story," and he clinched his argu- 
ment by adding that he would apply to the case the words 
of the immortal Shakespeare, "Othello's reputation's gone." 
We broke camp this morning with the pack train at 10 
o'clock, traveling in a westerly course for about two miles, 
when we gradually veered around to a nearly easterly direc- 
tion, through fallen timber almost impassable in the estima- 
tion of pilgrims, and indeed pretty severe on our pack 
horses, for there was no trail, and, while our saddle horses 
with their riders could manage to force their way through 
between the trees, the packs on the pack animals would fre- 
quently strike the trees, holding the animals fast or com- 
pelling them to seek some other passage. Frequently, we 
were obliged to re-arrange the packs and narrow them, so as 
to admit of their passage between the standing trees. At 
one point the pack animals became separated, and with the 
riding animals of a portion of the party were confronted 
with a prostrate trunk of a huge tree, about four feet in 
diameter, around which it was impossible to pass because 
of the obstructions of fallen timber. Yet pass it we must ; 
and the animals, one after another, were brought up to the 
log, their breasts touching it, when Williamson and I, the 
two strongest men of the party, on either side of an animal, 
stooped down, and, placing each a shoulder back of a fore 
leg of a horse, rose to an erect position, while others of the 
party placed his fore feet over the log, which he was thus 
enabled to scale. In this way we lifted fifteen or twenty of 
our animals over the log. 

76 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

Soon after leaving our camp this morning our '^Little In- 
vulnerable," while climbing a steep rocky ascent, missed 
his footing and turned three back summersaults down into 
the bottom of the ravine. We assisted him to his feet with- 
out removing his pack, and he seemed none the worse for 
his adventure, and quickly regained the ridge from which 
he had fallen and joined the rest of the herd. 

At 3 o'clock in the afternoon we halted for the day, hav- 
ing traveled about six miles, but our camp to-night is not 
more than three miles from our morning camp. 

Mr. Hedges' pack horse, ^'Little Invulnerable," was missing 
when we camped; and, as I was one of the four men de- 
tailed for the day to take charge of the pack train, I re- 
turned two miles on our trail with the two packers, Key- 
nolds and Bean, in search of him. We found him wedged 
between two trees, evidently enjoying a rest, which he sorely 
needed after his remarkable acrobatic feat of the morning. 
We are camped in a basin not far from the lake, which sur- 
rounds us on three sides — east, north and west. Mr. Everts 
has not yet come into camp, and we fear that he is lost. 

About noon we crossed a small stream that flows towards 
the southwest arm of the lake, but which, I think, is one of 
the headwater streams of Snake river. I think that we have 
crossed the main divide of the Rocky Mountains twice to- 
day. We have certainly crossed it once, and if we have not 
crossed it twice we are now camped on the western slope of 
the main divide. If the creek we crossed about noon to-day 
continues to flow in the direction it was running at the point 
where we crossed it, it must discharge into the southwest 
arm of the lake, and it seems probable that Mr. Everts has 
followed down this stream. 

I have just had a little talk with Lieutenant Doane. He 
thinks that our camp to-night is on the Snake river side of 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 77 

the main divide, and there are many things that incline me 
to believe that he is correct in his opinion.* 

Last night we had a discussion, growing out of the fact 
that Hedges and Stickney, for a brief time, were lost, for 
the purpose of deciding what course we would adopt in case 
any other member of the party were lost, and we agreed 
that in such case we would all move on as rapidly as possi- 
ble to the southwest arm of the lake, where there are hot 
springs (the vapor of which we noticed from our camp of 
September 5th), and there remain until all the party were 
united. Everts thought a better way for a lost man would 
be to strike out nearly due west, hoping to reach the head- 
waters of the Madison river, and follow that stream as his 
guide to the settlements ; but he finally abandoned this idea 
and adopted that which has been approved by the rest of the 
party. So if Mr. Everts does not come into camp to-night, 
we will to-morrow start for the appointed rendezvous. 

Saturday, September 10. — We broke camp about 10 
o'clock this morning, taking a course of about ten degrees 
north of west, traveling seven miles, and coming to camp 
on the lake shore at about five miles in a direct line from 
our morning camp at half past two p. m. No sign of Mr. 
Everts has been seen to-day, and on our arrival in camp, Gil- 
lette and Trumbull took the return track upon the shore of 
the lake, hoping to find him, or discover some sign of him. 
A large fire was built on a high ridge commanding all points 
on the beach, and we fired signal guns from time to time 
throughout the night. 

Mr. Hauser and I ascended a high point overlooking our 
camp, and about eight hundred feet above it, where from 
the top of a tall tree 1 had a fairly good view of the shore 

*Our subsequent journeying showed that Lieutenant Doane was 
right in his conjecture. 

78 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

outline of the west and south shores of the lake, with all the 
inlets, points and islands. We were also enabled to mark 
out our course of travel which it would be necessary to fol- 
low in order to reach the most southwesterly arm of the 
lake and take advantage of openings in the timber to facili- 
tate travel. On this high point we built a large fire which 
could be seen for many miles in all directions by any one 
not under the bank of the lake, and which we hoped Mr. 
Everts might see, and so be directed to our camp. 

In going to the summit we traveled several hundred feet 
on a rocky ridge not wide enough for safe travel by a man 
on horseback. At an elevation of about eight hundred feet 
above Yellowstone lake we found two small lakes nestled in 
a deep recess in the mountain and surrounded by the over- 
turned rocks. 

Our route to-day has been entirely through fallen timber, 
and it has been a hard day of travel on our horses, necessi- 
tating jumping over logs and dead branches of trees, and 
thus we have made very slow progress. 

The map of Yellowstone lake which we will be enabled to 
complete from the observations made to-day will show that 
its shape is very different from that shown on Captain Ray- 
nolds' map. The lake has but three islands. 

We are more than ever anxious about Mr. Everts. We 
had hoped, this morning, to make our camp to-night on the 
southwest arm of the lake, but the fallen timber has delayed 
us in our travel and prevented our doing so. The southwest 
arm of the lake has been our objective point for the past 
three days, and we feel assured that Mr. Everts, finding him- 
self lost, will press on for that point, and, as he will not be 
hindered by the care of a pack train, he can travel twice as 
far in one day as we can, and we are therefore the more 
anxious to reach our destination. We have carefully con- 
sidered all the points in the case, and have unanimously 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 79 

clecided that it will be utter follj to remain in camp here, 
and equally so to have remained in this morning's camp, hop- 
ing that he would overtake us. On the evening that Mr. 
Hedges was lost, Mr. Everts told him that he ought to have 
struck out for the lake, as he (Everts) would do if lost. So 
we will move on to the southwest arm of the lake and re- 
main three or four days. If Mr. Everts overtakes us at all 
he will do so by that time. 

Sunday, September 11. — Gillette and Trumbull returned 
to camp this morning, having traversed the shore of the lake 
to a point east of our camp of September 9th, without dis- 
covering any sign of Mr. Everts. We have arrived at the 
conclusion that he has either struck out for the lake on the 
west, or followed down the stream which we crossed the day 
he was lost, or that he is possibly following us. The latter, 
however, is not very probable. 

Mr. Hauser, Lieutenant Doane and I saddled up imme- 
diately after breakfast, and, with a supply of provisions for 
Mr. Everts, pressed forward in advance of the rest of the 
party, marking a trail for the pack animals through the 
openings in the dense woods, and avoiding, as far as pos- 
sible, the fallen timber. We rode through with all possible 
dispatch, watching carefully for the tracks of a horse, but 
found no sign of Mr. Everts. We followed both the beach 
and the trail on the bank for several miles in either direc- 
tion, but we saw neither sign nor track. The small stream 
which we crossed on the 9th does not flow into this arm of 
the lake as we thought it might, and it is evidently a tribu- 
tary of the Snake river. 

The pack train arrived early in the afternoon with the 
rest of the party, and all were astonished and saddened that 
no trace of Mr. Everts had been found. We shall to-night 
mature a plan for a systematic search for him. It is proba- 
ble that we will make this camp the base of operations, and 

80 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

remain here several days. Everts has with him a supply 
of matches, ammunition and fishing tackle, and if he will 
but travel in a direct line and not veer around to the right 
or left in a circle, he will yet be all right. 

Directly west of our camp on the further side of this arm 
of the lake, and about four miles distant, are several hot 
springs which we shall visit before leaving the lake. 

We were roused this morning about 2 o'clock by the shrill 
howl of a mountain lion, and again while we were at break- 
fast we heard another yell. As we stood around our camp- 
fire to-night, our ears were saluted with a shriek so terribly 
human, that for a moment we believed it to be a call from 
Mr. Everts, and we hallooed in response, and several of our 
party started in the direction whence the sounds came, and 
would have instituted a search for our comrade but for an 
admonitory growl of a mountain lion. 

We have traveled to-day about seven miles. On leaving 
our camps yesterday and to-day, we posted conspicuously 
at each a placard, stating clearly the direction we had taken 
and where provisions could be found. 

The country through which we have passed for the past 
five days is like that facetiously described by Bridger as 
being so desolate and impassable and barren of resources, 
that even the crows flying over it were obliged to carry along 
with them supplies of provisions. 

Monday, September 12. — In accordance with our pre-ar- 
ranged programme, three parties were sent out this morning 
in search of Mr. Everts. Smith and Trumbull were to fol- 
low the lake shore until they came in sight of our last camp. 
Hauser and Gillette were to return on our trail through the 
woods, taking with them their blankets and two days' ra- 
tions. General Washburn and myself were to take a south- 
erly direction towards what we called "Brown Mountain," 
some twelve miles away. Smith and Trumbull returned 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 81 

early in the afternoon and reported having seen in the sand 
the tracks of a man's foot, and Smith thought that he saw 
several Indians, who disappeared in the woods as they ap- 
proached; but Trumbull, who was with him, did not see 
them, and Smith says it was because he was short-sighted. 
For some reason they did not pursue their investigations 
farther, and soon returned in good order to camp. 

The reconnaissance made by General Washburn and my- 
self resulted in no discovery of any trace of Everts. We 
traveled about eleven miles directly south, nearly to the base 
of Brown mountain, carefully examining the ground the 
whole of the way, to see if any horseshoe tracks could be dis- 
covered. We crossed no stream between the lake and the 
mountain, and if Mr. Everts followed the stream which we 
crossed on the 9th, he is south of Brown mountain, for it is 
evident that he did not pass westward between Brown moun- 
tain and Yellowstone lake; otherwise we would have dis- 
covered the tracks of his horse. 

It is now night, and Hauser and Gillette have not yet re- 

Two miles on this side (the north side) of Brown moun- 
tain, Washburn and I passed over a low divide, which, 1 
think, must be the main range of the Rocky Mountains, just 
beyond which is another brimstone basin containing forty 
or fifty boiling sulphur and mud springs, and any number of 
small steam jets. A small creek runs through the basin, and 
the slopes of the mountains on either side to the height of 
several hundred feet showed unmistakable signs of volcanic 
action beneath the crust over which we were traveling. A 
considerable portion of the slope of the mountain was cov- 
ered with a hollow incrustation of sulphur and lime, or 
silica, from which issued in many places hot steam, and we 
found many small craters from six to twelve inches in diam- 
eter, from which issued the sound of the boiling sulphur or 

82 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

mud, and in many instances we could see the mud or sulphur 
water. There are many other springs of water slightly im- 
pregnated with sulphur, in which the water was too hot for 
us to bear the hand more than two or three seconds, and 
which overflowed the green spaces between the incrusta- 
tions, completely saturating the ground, and over which in 
many places the grass had grown, forming a turf compact 
and solid enough to bear the weight of a man ordinarily; 
but when it once gave way the underlying deposit was so 
thin that it afforded no support. While crossing, heedless 
of General Washburn's warning, one of these green places, 
my horse broke through and sank to his body as if in a bed 
of quicksand. I was off his back in an instant and succeeded 
in extricating the struggling animal, the turf being strong 
enough to bear his body alone, without the addition of the 
weight of a man. The fore legs of my horse, however, had gone 
through the turf into the hot, thin mud beneath. General 
Washburn, who was a few yards behind me on an incrusted 
mound of lime and sulphur (which bore us in all cases), and 
who had just before called to me to keep off the grassy place, 
as there was danger beneath it, inquired of me if the deposit 
beneath the turf was hot. Without making examination I 
answered that I thought it might be warm. Shortly after- 
wards the turf again gave way, and my horse plunged more 
violently than before, throwing me over his head, and, as I 
fell, my right arm was thrust violently through the treach- 
erous surface into the scalding morass, and it was with diffi- 
culty that I rescued my poor horse, and I found it necessary 
to instantly remove my glove to avoid blistering my hand. 
The frenzied floundering of my horse had in the first instance 
suggested to General Washburn the idea that the under 
stratum was hot enough to scald him. General Washburn 
was right in his conjecture. It is a fortunate circumstance 
that I to-day rode my light-weight pack horse; for, if I had 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 83 

ridden my heavy saddle horse, I think that the additional 
weight of his body would have broken the turf which held 
up the lighter animal, and that he would have disappeared in 
the hot boiling mud, taking me with him. 

At the base of Brown mountain is a lake, the size of 
which we could not very accurately ascertain, but which was 
probably about two miles long by three-quarters of a mile 
wide. On the south end appeared to be an outlet, and it 
seems to be near the head of the Snake river. Owing to the 
difficulty of reaching the beach, growing out of the mishaps 
arising from the giving way of the turf, as I have described, 
our nearest approach to the lake was about one-half of a 

During the absence of Washburn and myself Mr. Hedges 
has spent the day in fishing, catching forty of the fine trout 
with which the lake abounds. Mr. Stickney has to-day made 
an inventory of our larder, and we find that our luxuries, 
such as coffee, sugar and flour, are nearly used up, and that 
we have barely enough of necessary provisions — salt, pepper, 
etc., to last us ten days longer with economy in their use. 
We will remain at the lake probably three or four days 
longer with the hope of finding some trace of Everts, when 
it will be necessary to turn our faces homewards to avoid 
general disaster, and in the meantime we will dry a few hun- 
dred pounds of trout, and carry them with us as a precau- 
tionary measure against starvation. At all of our camps 
for the past three days, and along the line of travel between 
them, we have blazed the trees as a guide for Mr. Everts, and 
have left a small supply of provisions at each place, securely 
cached, with notices directing Mr. Everts to the places of 
concealment. The soldiers' rations issued for thirty days^ 
service will barely hold out for their own use, and we have 
little chance of borrowing from them. We left Helena with 
thirty days' rations, expecting to be absent but twenty-five 

84 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

days. We have already been journeying twenty-seven days, 
and are still a long way from home. 

A few nights ago I became ravenously hungry while on 
guard, and ate a small loaf of bread, one of five loaves that 
I found in a pan by the camp-fire. I was not aware at the 
time that these loaves were a part of the soldiers' breakfast 
rations, nor did I know that in the army service each soldier 
has his own particular ration of bread. So the next morn- 
ing, with one ration of bread missing, one soldier would 
have been short in his allowance if the others had not shared 
their loaves with him. I supposed at the time of my discov- 
ery of the five loaves that they belonged to the larder of the 
Washburn branch of the party — not to the escort — and I 
apologized to the soldiers when I learned the truth, and we 
are now as good friends as ever; but, from an occasional 
remark which they drop in my presence, I perceive that they 
think they have the laugh on me. Unfortunately for them, 
we will part company before we reach the settlements, and 
I will have no opportunity to liquidate my obligations. Hard 
work and plain living have already reduced my superfluous 
flesh, and "my clothes like a lady's loose gown hang about 
me," as the old song runs. 

Day before yesterday Mr. Gillette and I discussed the 
question of the probability of a man being able to sustain 
life in this region, by depending for his subsistence upon 
whatever roots or berries are to be found here. We have 
once before to-day referred to the fact that we have seen none 
of the roots which are to be found in other parts of the 
Rocky Mountain region, and especially in the elevated val- 
leys. We have not noticed on this trip a single growing 
plant or specimen of the camas, the cowse, or yamph. If Mr. 
Everts has followed the stream on which we were camped 
the day he was lost down into the Snake river valley, he will 
find an abundance of the camas root, which is most nutri- 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 85 

tious, and which will sustain his life if he has sufficient 
knowledge of the root to distinguish the edible from the 
poisonous plant. 

I have been told by James Stuart that in the valley of the 
Snake river the "camas" and the ^^cowse" roots are to be 
found in great abundance, and are much prized as food by 
the Indians. "Cowse" is a Nez Perce word, the Snake In- 
dians give the name "thoig'^ to the same root. It grows in 
great abundance in the country of the Nez Perce Indians, 
who eat great quantities of it, and these Indians are called 
by the Snake Indians the "Thoig A-rik-ka," or ^^Cowse-eat- 
ers." The camas is both flour and potatoes for several wan- 
dering nations, and it is found in the most barren and deso- 
late regions in greatest quantity. The camas is a small 
round root, not unlike an onion in appearance. It is sweet 
to the taste, full of gluten, and very satisfying to a hungry 
man. The Indians have a mode of preparing it which makes 
it very relishable. In a hole a foot in depth, and six feet 
in diameter, from which the turf has been carefully removed, 
they build a fire for the purpose of heating the exposed earth 
surface, while in another fire they heat at the same time a 
sufficient number of flat rocks to serve as a cover. After the 
heating process is completed, the roots are spread over the 
bottom of the hole, covered with the turf with the grass side 
down, the heated rocks spread above, and a fire built upon 
them, and the process of cooking produces about the same 
change in the camas that is produced in coffee by roasting. 
It also preserves it in a suitable form for ready use. 

The yamph has a longer and smaller bulb than the camas, 
though not quite as nutritious, and may be eaten raw. 
Either of these roots contains nutriment sufficient to sup- 
port life, and often in the experience of the tribes of the 
mountains winters have been passed with no other food. 
There is a poisonous camas, which is sometimes mistaken for 


Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

the genuine root, but which cannot be eaten in large quan- 
tities without fatal results. It always grows where the 
true camas is found, and much care is necessary to avoid 
mixing the two while gathering the roots in any considerable 
quantity. So great is the esteem in which the camas is held 
that many of the important localities of the country in which 
it is found are named for it.* 

- -^ r* 



fc^.: — 






^ ^ 



Showing how branches and twigs lodge at the point 
OF convergence so as to make a foundation for grass 
and earth until the spring is filled to the top and 
the surface is covered with a living turf strong 
enough to bear a considerable weight. 

Lieutenant Doane was much amazed at the appearance of 
my horse's legs, upon our return from Brown mountain, and 

*Tlie Honorable Granville Stuart, of Montana, in his book "Mon- 
tana as It Is," published in 1865, says that there is another root 
found in portions of Montana which I have never seen. Mr. Stuart 

"Thistle-root is the root of the common thistle, which is very 
abundant in the bottoms along nearly all the streams in the moun- 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 87 

has asked General Washburn and myself what can be the 
nature of the ground where such a mishap could occur. My 
theory of the matter is this : We frequently found springs 
of hot water— though not boiling— some fifteen or twenty 
feet in diameter at the top, the sides of which were funnel- 








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Af %^ 

















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am J^mMt 

ifi^^BlL. ^ ~^ 1 




tjHB'^r ST^I 


^H^hH^^T'* '>s 






ShH^^q ^^\'^ 19^ 



m ^M '^^^ 



SS^^^^*' ''''^■w 



J^-^n -^BSB^ 





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shaped, and converged to a narrow opening of say three feet 
diameter at a depth of twelve or fifteen feet, and which be- 

tain. They grow to about the size of a large radish, and taste very 
much like turnips, and are good either raw or cooked with meat." 

Captain William Clark, of the famous Lewis and Clark expedi- 
tion, dropped the final e from the word cowse, spelling it c-o-w-s. 
Unless this error is noticed by the reader, he will not understand 
what Captain Clark meant when he said that members of his party 
were searching for the cows. 

88 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

low the point of convergence opened out like an hour glass. 
In some of these springs at the point of convergence we 
found tree branches that had fallen into the spring and had 
become impregnated with the silica or lime of the water; 
water-soaked we call it. I saw a number of such springs 
in which several branches of trees were lying across the 
small opening at the point of convergence. When once 
these are firmly lodged, they form a support for smaller 
branches and twigs, and thus the tufts of grass which the 
spring floods or melting snows bring down from the sides 
of the mountain will, after a few years, made a sufficiently 
strong foundation for the earth, which will also wash down 
the slopes into the spring. Once a firm footing is estab- 
lished, it is only a question of time when the spring will be 
filled to the brim with earth. Then gradually the seed 
blown over the surface of the spring from the weeds and 
grass near by will take root, and, in the course of a few 
years, a strong turf will be formed, through which the water 
may percolate in many places, though giving to the unsus- 
pecting traveler no sign of its treacherous character. I 
think that it was through such a turf as this that the fore 
legs of my horse and my right hand were plunged.* 

My pack horse which I rode to-day, a buckskin colored 
broncho, which is docile under the pack saddle, "bucked" 
as I mounted him this morning; but I kept my seat in the 
saddle without difficulty. Walter Trumbull, however, on 
my return to-night, presented me with a sketch which he 
says is a faithful portrayal of both horse and rider in the 

♦Lieutenant Doane, in his official repprt to the War Department, 
says, concerning this episode: 

"Washburn and Langford * * * became entangled in an im- 
mense swampy brimstone basin, abounding in sulphur springs. 
* * * Mr. Langford's horse broke through several times, coming 
back plastered with the white substance and badly scalded." 

Washburn Yellowstone Extedition of 1870. 


acrobatic act. I think the sketch is an exaggeration, and 
that I hugged the saddle in better form than it indicates. 

Tuesday, September 13. — It was Jake Smith's turn to 
stand guard last night, but he refused to do so, and Wash- 
burn took his place. 


We have remained in camp all day. At about 9 o'clock 
this morning it began to rain and hail, and we have had a 
little snow, which continued to fall at intervals all day. At 
about 6 o'clock this evening Hauser and Gillette arrived in 
camp, having returned on the trail to within three miles of 
the place where we camped on the night of September 7th. 
They examined the trail and the beach with the utmost care, 
but without discovering any trace of Mr. Everts. They say 

90 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

that the trail over which our train passed, or, rather, the 
path which our train made, w^as hardly plain enough to be 
followed, and in many places where the pine leaves had 
fallen thick upon the ground, it was totally invisible, so that 
no one could have followed it with certainty except by dis- 
mounting and closely observing the ground at every step. 
They made the journey very well, from the fact that they 
had traveled the route once before, and their horses instinct- 
ively followed the back path for a great part of the distance 
without any special guidance. On their near approach to 
camp, when the trail was no longer discernible, their dog 
"Booby" took the lead when they were at fault, and brought 
them into camp all right. They think they might have been 
forced to lie out all night but for the sagacity of "Booby." 
They made on each of the two days nearly as great a dis- 
tance as our train traveled in four days. Their report has 
fully set at rest the question of Mr. Everts having followed 
us. It settles as a fact that he did not again strike our trail,, 
and that had he done so he could not have followed it, owing 
to his short-sightedness. Hauser and Gillette are probably 
the two best trailers and woodsmen in our party, and their 
report of the condition of the trail and the difficulty expe- 
rienced in following it has satisfied us that Mr. Everts has 
either struck off in a southerly direction, following perhaps 
the headwaters of the Snake river, or that he has made an 
effort to reach the head of the lake with a view of returning 
by our trail to Boteler's ranch. It is snowing hard to-night, 
and the prospect for a day or two more in this camp is very 
good. The murky atmosphere to-night brings to view a num- 
ber of springs on the opposite shore of this arm of the lake 
and farther back in the hills which we have not heretofore 
seen, and the steam is rising from fifty craters in the tim- 
bered ridge, giving it the appearance of a New England 
factory village. 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 91 

After holding a council this evening we have resolved to 
remain at this place two days more, hoping that Mr. Everts 
may overtake us, this arm of the lake being the objective point 
of our travel, fixed on the day before that on which Mr. 
Everts was lost. 

Wednesday, September 14. — We have remained in camp 
all day, as it is next to impossible to move. The snow is 
nearly two feet deep, and is very wet and heavy, and our 
horses are pawing in it for forage. Our large army tent is 
doing us good service, and, as there is an abundance of dry 
wood close by our camp, we are extremely comfortable. I 
am the only one of the party who has a pair of water-proof 
boots, and I was up and out of the tent this morning before 
daylight cutting into cordwood a pine log, and before noon 
I had more than a half cord at the tent door. Washburn 
and Hauser offered to do some of this work if I would loan 
them my water-proof boots; but, as they are of a full size 
for me, and would probably drop off of their feet, I told them 
that I would get the wood. 

Lieutenant Doane to-day requested me to loan him this 
diary from which to write up his records, as the condition 
of his thumb has interfered with his use of a pen or pencil. 
I have accordingly loaned it to him, and Private Moore has 
been busy the greater part of the day copying portions of it. 

For myself, I am very glad to have a day of rest, for I 
have felt much wearied for several days. I think that I am 
certainly within bounds when I say that I have put in six- 
teen hours a day of pretty hard work, attending to camp 
duties, and writing each day till late at night, and I realize 
that this journal of travel is becoming ponderous. Yet there 
is daily crowded upon my vision so much of novelty and 
wonder, which should be brought to the notice of the world, 
and which, so far as my individual effort is concerned, will 
be lost to it if I do not record the incidents of each dav's 

92 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

travel, that I am determined to make my journal as full as 
possible, and to purposely, omit no details. It is a lifetime 
opportunity for publishing to all who may be interested a 
complete record of the discoveries of an expedition which 
in coming time will rank among the first and most important 
of American explorations. 

It is cold to-night, and the water in a pail standing at our 
tent door was frozen at 7 o'clock in the evening. 

The water fowl are more abundant at this point than they 
have been elsewhere on the lake on our journey around it, 
and we could see to-day hundreds of swans, geese and ducks, 
and many pelicans and gulls. 

Thursday, September 15. — This forenoon the weather mod- 
erated, and one-half the snow has melted, so that it is but 
about ten inches deep to-night. Still, our horses are becom- 
ing restless for want of sufficient food. The patches of grass 
which may be found under the snow are very limited in ex- 
tent, and as the animals are confined to the length of their 
lariats, foraging is much more difficult than if they were 
running loose. We have seen no signs of Indians following 
us since we made our first camp upon the lake, and but little 
evidence that they have ever been here, except some few logs 
piled so as to conceal from view a hunter who may be at- 
tempting to bring down some of the game swimming on the 
lake. We feel convinced that Jake Smith drew upon both 
his imagination and his fears three days ago, when he re- 
ported that he had seen Indians on the beach of the lake. 

Each night that we have been camped here we have heard 
the shrill cries of the mountain lions, and under a momen- 
tary illusion I have each time been half convinced that it 
was a human being in distress. Because of the mountain 
lions we are keeping close watch upon our horses. They are 
very fond of horse flesh, and oftentimes will follow a horse- 



Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 9;> 

man a long distance, more to make a meal upon the flesh of 
the horse than for the purpose of attacking the rider. 

During the three days we have spent in this camp, I have 
been enabled to complete my diary for September 8th, 9th 
and 10th, which were red letter days — days of great anxiety. 

I had a good nap this afternoon while my diary was being 
used for Lieutenant Doane, and I feel greatly refreshed. 
My first thought on awakening was for poor Everts. I 
wonder where he can be throughout all this fierce storm and 
deep snow I Perhaps the snow did not reach him, for I no- 
ticed to-night that the ground was quite bare on the oppo- 
site side of this arm of the lake, while the snow is eight or 
ten inches deep here at our camp. Hauser is not feeling 
very well to-night. 

Friday, September 16. — We this morning resolved to move 
over to the vicinity of the hot springs on the opposite side 
of this arm of the lake, from which point we will leave the 
Yellowstone for the Madison river or some one of its 
branches. We followed up the beach for half a mile, and 
then journeyed along the bank of the lake through the woods 
for a mile to avoid the quicksands on the lake shore; then, 
taking the beach again, we followed it to the springs where 
we are now camped.* 

These springs surpass in extent, variety and beauty any 
which we have heretofore seen. They extend for the dis- 
tance of nearly a mile along the shore of the lake, and back 
from the beach about one hundred yards. They number 
between ninety and one hundred springs, of all imaginable 
varieties. Farthest from the beach are the springs of boil- 
ing mud, in some of which the mud is very thin, in others of 
such a consistency that it is heaped up as it boils over, gradu- 

*The location of this camp is what is now called the "Thumb' 
station on the stage route. 

94 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

ally spreading under its own weight until it covers quite a 
large surface. The mud or clay is of different colors. That 
in some of the springs is nearly as white as white marble; 
in others it is of a lavender color ; in others it is of a rich 
pink, of different shades. I have taken specimens of each, 
which I will have analyzed on my return home.* In close 
proximity to these are springs discharging water nearly 
clear and apparently odorless, the bottoms and sides of 
which, as well as of the channels of the streams running from 
them, are covered with soft deposits of some substance they 
contain in solution. These deposits and the hard incrusta- 
tions around the edges of the springs are of various colors, 
in some cases being dark red, in others scarlet, in others yel- 
low, and in still others green. 

Along the shore of the lake are several boiling springs situ- 
ated in the top of incrusted craters, but which do not boil 
over, the sediment which has been deposited around them 
forming a wall or embankment, holding back the water. 

But the most remarkable of all the springs at this point 
are six or seven of a character differing from any of the rest. 
The water in them is of a dark blue or ultra-marine hue, but 
it is wonderfully clear and transparent. Two of these 
springs are quite large ; the remaining five are smaller, their 
diameters ranging from eight to fifteen feet. The water in 

*Aiialyses of the various specimens of mud taken from the 
springs in this locality, made on our return to Helena, gave the fol- 
lowing results: 

White Sediment. Lavender Sediment. Pink Sediment. 

Silica 42.2 Silica 28.2 Silica 32.6 

Magnesia 33.4 Alumina 58.6 Alumina 52.4 

Lime 17.8 Boracic acid 3.2 Oxide of calcium 8.3 

Alkalis 6.6 Oxide of iron 0.6 Soda and potassa 4.2 

-Oxide of calcium 4.2 Water and loss.. 2.5 

100.0 Water and loss.. 5.2 


These analyses were made by Professor Augustus Steitz, as- 
sayer of the First National Bank of Helena, Mont. 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 95 

one of these latter is thrown up to the height of two feet. 
The largest two of these springs are irregular in their gen- 
eral outline of nearly an oval shape, the larger of the two 
being about twenty-five feet wide by forty long, and the 
smaller about twenty by thirty feet. The discharge from 
each of them is about one gallon per minute. The sides of the 
springs are funnel-shaped, and converge until at the depth 
of thirty feet, the opening is about eight feet in diameter. 
From the surface or rim down to the lowest point of con- 
vergence where the opening enlarges, the sides of the funnel 
(which are corrugated and very uneven and irregular) are 
covered with a white deposit or incrustation which contrasts 
vividly with the dark opening at its base, which is distinctly 
visible at the depth of forty feet. These two springs are dis- 
tant from each other about twenty yards, and there is a dif- 
ference of about four feet in the elevation or level of the 
water. One peculiar feature of all these springs is that they 
seem to have no connection with each other beneath the sur- 
face. We find springs situated five or six feet apart, of the 
same general appearance but of different temperatures, and 
with the water upon different levels. The overflow from 
these springs for a great number of years has formed an in- 
crusted bank overlooking the border of the lake, rising to the 
height of six feet; and, as the streams running from the 
springs are bordered with incrustations of various hues, de- 
pending upon the nature of the deposit or substance in solu- 
tion, so the incrusted bank, which has been in process of for- 
mation for ages, exhibits all of these varied colors. In a 
number of places along the bank of the lake, this incrusted 
deposit is broken down and has crumbled into small pieces, 
upon which the waves have dashed until they have been 
moulded into many curious shapes, and having all the colors 
of the deposits in the springs — white, red and white blended, 
yellow and green. Cavernous hollows which fill the shore 

96 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

incrustation respond in weird and melancholy echoes to the 
dash of the billows. 

The bottoms of the streams flowing from the deeper 
springs have for some distance a pure white incrustation; 
farther down the slope the deposit is white in the center with 
sides of red, and still farther down the white deposit is hid- 
den entirely by the red combined with yellow. From nearly 
all these spriijgs we obtained specimens of the adjoining in- 
crustations, all of which were too hot to be held for more 
than a moment even with the gloved hand. 

Between the springs all along the border of the lake were 
small craters from which issued hot steam or vapor, besides 
which there were many cold craters. Along the edge of the 
lake, out in the water from ten to thirty feet from the shore 
are to be found springs with the water bubbling up a few 
inches above the surface. None of the springs in this locality 
appeared to be very strongly impregnated with sulphur. 
Some of the incrustations on the beach are as white and 
delicate as alabaster. These are the springs which we ob- 
served on September 5th from our camp on the eastern 
shore of the lake. 

Our explorations of the Yellowstone will cease at this 
point, and to-morrow we start in our search for Firehole 
Basin. Our journey around Yellowstone lake in close prox- 
imity to the beach is doubtless the first ever attempted ; and, 
although it has been attended with difficulty and distress, 
these have been to me as nothing compared with the enjoy- 
ment the journey has afforded, and it is with the greatest re- 
gret that I turn my face from it homewards. How can I 
sum up its wonderful attractions ! It is dotted with islands 
of great beauty, as yet unvisited by man, but which at no 
remote period will be adorned with villas and the ornaments 
of civilized life. The winds from the mountain gorges roll its 
placid waters into a furious sea, and crest its billows with 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 07 

foam. Forests of pine, deep, dark and almost impenetrable, 
are scattered at random along its banks, and its beautiful 
margin presents every variety of sand and pebbly beach, 
glittering with crystals, carnelians and chalcedony. The 
Indians approach it under the fear of a superstition origi- 
nating in the volcanic forces surrounding it, which amounts 
almost to entire exclusion. It possesses adaptabilities for 
the highest display of artificial culture, amid the greatest 
wonders of Nature that the world affords, and is beautified 
by the grandeur of the most extensive mountain scenery, and 
not many years can elapse before the march of civil improve- 
ment will reclaim this delightful solitude, and garnish it 
with all the attractions of cultivated taste and refinement. 

Strange and interesting as are the various objects which 
we have met with in this vast field of natural wonders, no 
camp or place of rest on our journey has afforded our party 
greater satisfaction than the one we are now occupying, 
which is our first camp since emerging from the dense forest. 
Filled with gloom at the loss of our comrade, tired, tattered, 
browned by exposure and reduced in flesh by our labors, 
we resemble more a party of organized mendicants than of 
men in pursuit of ligature's greatest novelties. But from 
this point we hope that our journey will be comparatively 
free from difficulties of travel. 

Mr. Hauser's experience as a civil engineer has been an 
invaluable aid in judging of the "lay of the land," and so 
in giving direction to our party in its zig-zag journeying 
around the lake. In speaking of this, Hauser says that he 
thinks that I have a more correct idea of mountain heights, 
distances and directions, and can follow a direct course 
through dense timber more unerringly than any man he 
knows, except James Stuart — a compliment which I ac- 
cept most graciously. Some of our party declare that they 
would have had no expectation of finding their way back 

98 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 

to camp, if they had ventured into the forest in search of 
Mr. Everts. 

I recited to Washburn and Hauser to-night an extract 
from ''The Task," by the poet Cowper, which, in my younger 
days, I memorized for declamation, and which, I think, is at 
once expressive of our experience in the journey around the 
lake and of our present relief. 

"As one who long in thickets and in brakes 
Entangled, winds now this way and now that, 
His devious course uncertain, seeking home, 
Or having long in miry ways been foiled 
And sore discomfited, from slough to slough 
Plunging, and half despairing of escape. 
If chance at length he finds a green-sward 
Smooth and faithful to the foot, his spirits rise. 
He chirrups brisk his ear-erecting steed, 
And winds his way with pleasure and with ease." 

It is a source of great regret to us all that we must leave 
this place and abandon the search for Mr. Everts; but our 
provisions are rapidly diminishing, and force of circum- 
stances obliges us to move forward. We still indulge the 
hope that he may have found and followed down some 
branch of the Madison river and reached Virginia City, or 
down Snake river and reached some settlement in that val- 
ley; and but for our anxiety to reach home and prove or 
disprove our expectations, we might have devoted much 
more time to visiting the objects of interest we have seen, 
and which we have been obliged to pass by. 

Mr. Hauser has eaten nothing to-day, and this evening he 
told me that he felt sick. Such an acknowledgment from 
him means far more than it would coming from many an- 
other man, for I know from intimate association with him 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 99 

for eight years that there is no man in our party who will 
more uncomplainingly reconcile himself to the hardships 
and privations of such a journey as this, and if he is too ill 
to travel to-morrow morning, and if the rest of our party 
think that they ought to take up the journey homeward, I 
will remain with him here for a day, and as the others will 
have to search out a path through the fallen timber, we can 
make their two days' journey in one by following their 
beaten trail without obstacles, and overtake them by the 
time they reach the Firehole river, if they find it at all. 

Saturday, September 17, morning. — We were awakened 
before daylight this morning by loud roaring sounds pro- 
ceeding from the hot springs close by our camp, some of 
which were in violent action, though entirely quiescent yes- 
terday. Some of them in which the surface of the water, 
last night, was several feet below the rim, are nov7 overflow- 

My saddle horse broke his lariat, frightened by the roar- 
ing of the springs, and plunged along too near one of them, 
when the surrounding incrustation gave way and he sank 
down to his body, but frantically extricated himself with- 
out standing upon the order of his extrication ; — but he has 
cut his foot so badly that I do not think it will be prudent 
to ride him to-day. In his stead I will ride my smaller 
pack horse, who has nearly recovered from the effects of the 
scalding he received on my trip to Brown mountain. The 
hair has come off his legs in several places as the result of 
that mishap, yet his wonderful vitality always leaves him 
in a cheerful frame of mind and ready for any duty. 

This has been a gloomy morning in our camp, for we all 
have been depressed at the thought of leaving the lake and 
abandoning the search for Mr. Everts. We have discussed 
the situation from every point of view, and have tried to 
put ourselves in his place and have considered all the possi- 

100 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 

bilities of fate that may befall him. At one moment he may 
be buoyed up with hope, however faint — at another weighed 
down by despair and fear, with all their mental terrors. 
Has he met death by accident, or may he be injured and un- 
able to move, and be suffering the horrors of starvation and 
fever? Has he wandered aimlessly hither and thither until 
bereft of reason? As I contemplate all these possibilities, 
it is a relief to think that he may have lost his life at the 
hand of some vagabond Indian. 

As the result of this conference we have decided upon a 
final plan of action. We will give to Gillette from our rem- 
nant of provisions, ten days' rations, and Lieutenant Doane 
will detail Privates Moore and Williamson, with ten days' 
rations, and the three will continue the search from this 
point. Mr. Gillette says that with the ten days' rations 
they can devote five days to a continuous search, and the 
remaining five days will be sufficient, with forced traveling, 
for them to overtake us. 

Hauser has endeavored to throw a little cheer into the con- 
ference by saying to Gillette: 

"I think that I should be willing to take the risk of spend- 
ing ten days more in this wilderness, if I thought that by so 
doing I could find a father-in-law." This provoked an up- 
roarious shout of laughter, for we well understood that 
Hauser alluded to the many social courtesies which Gillette, 
in Helena, had extended to Miss Bessie Everts, the charming 
daughter of our lost comrade, and one of the most attractive 
of Montana belles. This sally of Mr. Hauser gives to me 
the assurance of his own convalescence ; and, if it so happens 
that Gillette finds Mr. Everts, we will have the realization 
of another image in "Childe Harold," "A rapture on the 
lonely shore."* 

*0n our return home, finding that no tidings of Mr. Everts had 
been received, Jack Baronette and Greorge A. Prichett, two experi- 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition ob^ 1870. 101 

Saturday, September 17, evening.— Gillette, Moore and 
Williamson left us this morning about 9 o'clock on their 
final quest for Mr. Everts, and the rest of our party soon re- 
sumed our journey. We have traveled about twelve miles 
to-day, about one-half of the distance being through open 
timber, and the other half over prostrate pines unmarked by 
any trail, and through which we found it difficult to make 
our way, although the obstructions were not so formidable 
as those on the south shore of Yellowstone lake.* About 
noon we crossed a high ridge which we had reached by a 
steep ascent, and on descending the opposite side we saw 
upon our left a large lake which Lieutenant Doane and some 
others of our party think is at the head of Firehole river, 
and they suggested that we make our way to this lake and 
take as a guide to the Firehole the stream which they believe 

enced trappers and old mountaineers, were provided with thirty 
days' provisions and dispatched in search of him, and by them Mr. 
Everts was found on October 16th, after wandering in the foreSt 
for thirty-seven days from the time he was lost. From the letter 
of Mr. Prichett addressed to Mr. Gillette, myself and others, I quote: 
"We found him on the 16th inst. on the summit of the first big 
mountain beyond Warm Spring creek, about seventy-five miles from 
Fort Ellis. He says he subsisted all this time on one snow bird, two 
small minnows and the wing of a bird which he found and mashed 
between two stones, and made some broth of in a yeast powder can. 
This was all, with the exception of thistle roots, he had subsist- 
ed on." 

The narrative of Mr. Everts, of his thirty-seven days' sojourn in 
the wilderness (published in Scribner's Magazine for November, 
1871, and in volume V. of the Montana Historical Society publica- 
tions), furnishes a chapter in the history of human endurance, ex- 
posure, and escape, almost as incredible as it is painfully instructive 
and entertaining. 

♦Our general line of travel from the southwest estuary of the 
lake (Thumb) to the Firehole river was about one mile south of the 
present stage route. The tourist who to-day makes the rapid and 
comfortable tour of the park by stagfe, looking south from Shoshone 
Point, may catch a glimpse of a portion of the prostrate forest 
through and over which we struggled, and thus form some idea of 
the difficulties which beset us on our journey from the lake to the 
Firehole river. 

102 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

will be found flowing from it. They argued that by so doing 
we would be relieved from all uncertainty concerning the 
course to be pursued in order to reach the Firehole river; 
but they were easily persuaded that if the Firehole does take 
its rise in that lake, we can as certainly strike that river by 
pursuing our present westwardly direction as if we followed 
the plan suggested by them. Hauser and I feel sure that 
this large lake is the head of Snake river. 

In the afternoon we passed another ridge and descended 
into a small open valley where we found a spring of good 
water, and where we are now camped, near a very small 
creek, which runs in a direction a little north of west, and 
which I believe flows to the Firehole or the Madison river. 
Our direction of travel to-day has been governed somewhat 
by our compasses, but we have neglected to make allowance 
for the variation of the magnetic needle, which I think is 
about twenty degrees east of the true meridian. Therefore 
in trying to follow a westerly course, we have in reality 
taken a course about twenty degrees north of west. 

As we passed the large lake on our left to-day, I observed 
that there was no ridge of land between us and the lake; 
therefore I believe that it is in the Snake river valley, and 
that we have to-day twice crossed the main range of the 
Rocky Mountains. The fact that the Snake river valley is 
so readily accessible from Yellowstone lake, gives me hope 
to-night that Mr. Everts may have made his way out of the 
forest to some settlement in the Snake river valley. 

There is still four or five inches of snow on the ground, 
but there is plenty of long grass under it, and our horses are 
faring tolerably well, and will soon fill themselves with 
either grass or snow. There is no clear space large enough 
for us to pitch our tent. We have had our supper — an indif- 
ferent and scanty meal — and each man is now seeking with 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 103 

varied success a dry spot beneath the sheltering branches of 
the pines whereon to spread his blankets. 

Some of our party seem terribly fatigued, and others men- 
tally depressed. The question of our present locality is still 
unsolved in their minds, and has been intensified by the dis- 
cussions in camp to-night as to whether or not the large lake 
we saw discharges its waters into the Snake river, and they 
ask: "If it does so, have we re-crossed the main range to 
the eastern slope?" For myself I do not knov>^ of any day 
since we left home when I have been in better spirits. I 
am sure we are on the right course and feel no anxiety. 

The sky to-night is clear and cloudless, but the snow is 
melting fast, and there is a peculiar odor in the air that gives 
assurance of rain before morning. Hedges (my bed fellow) 
and I have selected our sleeping place, and I have placed 
over it a ridge-pole, supported by branches of a tree, and 
have erected a "wickiup" of green pine boughs overlapping 
like a thatched roof, which will turn off the rain if it comes, 
and I have advised the others of our party to make similar 
preparations for a rain. Hedges s^ys that he feels worried 
and very much discouraged. 

Sunday, September 18, 8 o'clock a. m. — There occurred a 
half hour ago the first serious mishap affecting the welfare 
of the entire party ; and while the packers, Bean and Rey- 
nolds, are repairing the damage resulting therefrom, I will 
go back a few hours and chronicle in the order of their oc- 
currence the events of the early morning. 

Mr. Hedges and I, sleeping securely under the sheltering 
roof of our pine-thatched wickiup, were aroused from our 
sweet dreams of home about 4 o'clock this morning by sev- 
eral members of our party, who sought shelter from the rain 
which came down abundantly, or, as a Westmoreland deacon 
used to say, "in cupious perfusion." The rain storm broke 
about 3 o'clock in the morning, and all of the party except 

J 04 Washburn Yellowstone ExrEDiTioN of 1870. 

Hedges and myself were well drenched, as their only pro- 
tection from the rain was their blankets. An effort had 
been made by some of the party to kindle a fire under the 
shelter of a large standing tree, but with indifferent success. 
Hedges and I crawled out of our dry blankets, and sat up- 
right, so as to make as much room as possible for the others, 
and we welcomed all our comrades to our dry shelter. 
General Washburn, who is sutler ing somewhat from a cold, 
was especially grateful for the protection from the storm, 
which continued until about 7 o'clock. The roof of our 
wickiup had completely protected Hedges and myself from 
the rain except at one spot directly over Hedges' exposed 
ear, where a displacement of the pine leaves allowed a small 
stream to trickle through the roof, filling his ear with water, 
much to his discomfort. 

Some members of our party, at our early breakfast this 
morning, sitting upon logs at various distances from our 
camp fire in their half-dried clothing, and eating their scanty 
meal in silence, presented a sorry appearance. Some are dis- 
appointed that we did not, last night, reach the Firehole 
river, or some large branch of the Madison, which may guide 
us homeward, and are wondering if we are moving in the 
right direction. I feel so perfectly confident that we are 
traveling the right course that I am in the best of spirits. 
It may be that my cheerfulness is owing, in some degree, to 
my having dry clothing and a dry skin, which few of my 
comrades have, but I see no reason for discouragement. I 
think that Mr. Hauser is the best and most accurate judge 
of distances, of heights of mountains, and direction of travel, 
of any man I know, and he does not doubt that we are mov- 
ing in the right direction. It is a satisfaction to have my 
opinion confirmed by his judgment. 

We had just finished our breakfast a half hour ago when 
something — some wild animal, or, perhaps, a snake — moving 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 105 

in the brush near where our horses were picketed, fright- 
ened three of them, and in their violent plunging they pulled 
up the iron picket pins attached to their lariats, and dashed 
at a gallop directly through our camp, over the campfire, 
and upsetting and scattering hither and thither our cooking 
utensils. The iron picket pins flying through the air at the 
lariat ends narrowly missed several of our party, but be- 
came entangled with the only two sound pack saddles re- 
maining of the entire number with which we started, and 
dashed them against the adjacent trees, tearing off the side 
pieces of the saddletrees, and rendering them useless. Our 
first thought was that the damage done was beyond repair. 
We had, however, a few thin boards, the remnants of our 
canned goods boxes, and from my seamless sack of personal 
baggage I produced two gimlets, a screwdriver, a pair of 
nippers, some wrought nails and two dozens of screws of 
various sizes. When all these things were laid out, my com- 
rades expressed great surprise, for not one of them or the 
packers had any idea that there were any tools or screws 
in our "outfit." On the other hand, it is a matter of surprise 
to me that I am the only member of our party who has a 
rubber coat, or a pair of oil-tanned water-proof boots, or 
who has brought with him any medicines, tools, screws, etc. ; 
and, except myself, there is but one member of our party 
(whom I will not "give away" by here recording his name) 
who had the foresight to bring with him a flask of whiskey. 
I think we will be known among those who will hereafter 
visit this marvelous region as "The Temperance Party," 
though some of our number who lacked the foresight to pro- 
vide, before leaving Helena, a needed remedy for snake bites, 
have not lacked the hindsight required in using it. 

Bean and Reynolds have just announced that the pack sad- 
dles have been repaired, and that preparations are being 

106 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

made for the start, so on this hint I suspend mj record until 

Sunday, September 18, evening. — We left our morning 
camp about 9 o'clock, pursuing our uncertain course through 
fallen timber for a distance of about three miles, when we 
had all our fears of misdirection relieved by coming suddenly 
upon the banks of the Firehole river, the largest fork of the 
Madison, down which we followed five miles, passing several 
groups of boiling springs and a beautiful cascade* (to which 
we gave no name), when we emerged from the dense forest 
into a sequestered basin two miles above the union of the 
Firehole river with a stream which comes in from the south- 
west, the basin extending to the width of a mile, and travers- 
ing the river until contracted between proximate ranges two 
miles below our camp. 

I have spent the entire afternoon and part of this evening 
in examining the geysers and springs, but will not further 
record the explorations of to-day until we are ready to leave 
the basin. 

Monday, September 19. — When we left Yellowstone lake 
two days ago, the desire for home had superceded all thought 
of further explorations. Five days of rapid travel would, 
we believed, bring us to the upper valley of the Madison, 
and within twenty-five miles of Virginia City, and we in- 
dulged the remote hope that we might there find some trace 
of Mr. Everts. We had within a distance of fifty miles seen 
what we believed to be the greatest wonders on the continent. 
We were convinced that there was not on the globe another 
region where within the same limits Nature had crowded so 
much of grandeur and majesty with so much of novelty and 
wonder. Judge, then, of our astonishment on entering this 
basin, to see at no great distance before us an immense 

♦Called now Kepler's cascade. 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 107 

body of sparkling water, projected suddenly and with ter- 
rific force into the air to the height of over one hundred 
feet. We had found a real geyser. In the valley before us 
were a thousand hot springs of various sizes and character, 
and five hundred craters jetting forth vapor. In one place 
the eye followed through crevices in the crust a stream of 
hot water of considerable size, running at nearly right 
angles with the river, and in a direction, not towards, but 
away from the stream. We traced the course of this stream 
by the crevices in the surface for twenty or thirty yards. It 
is probable that it eventually flows into the Firehole, but 
therQ is nothing on the surface to indicate to the beholder 
the course of its underground passage to the river. 

On the summit of a cone twenty-five feet high was a boil- 
ing spring seven feet in diameter, surrounded with beauti- 
ful incrustations, on the slope of which we gathered twigs 
encased in a crust a quarter of an inch in thickness. On an 
incrusted hill opposite our camp are four craters from 
three to five feet in diameter, sending forth steam jets and 
water to the height of four or five feet. But the marvelous 
features of this wonderful basin are its spouting geysers, 
of which during our brief stay of twenty-two hours we have 
seen twelve in action. Six of these threw water to the 
height of from fifteen to twenty feet, but in the presence of 
others of immense dimensions they soon ceased to attract 

Of the latter six, the one we saw in action on entering the 
basin ejected from a crevice of irregular form, and about 
four feet long by three wide, a column of water of corre- 
sponding magnitude to the height of one hundred feet. 
Around this crevice or mouth the sediment is piled in many 
capricious shapes, chiefly indented globules from six inches 
to two feet in diameter. Little hollows in the crust filled 
with water contained small white spheres of tufa, of the 

108 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

size of a nutmeg, formed as it seemed to me around some 

We gave such names to those of the geysers which we saw 
in action as we think will best illustrate their peculiarities. 
The one I have just described General Washburn has named 
"Old Faithful," because of the regularity of its eruptions, 
the intervals between which being from sixty to sixty-five 
minutes, the column of water being thrown at each erup- 
tion to the height of from eighty to one hundred feet. 

♦An incident of so amusing a character occurred soon after my 
return to Helena, that I cannot forbear narrating it here. Among 
the specimens of silica which I brought home were several dark 
globules about the size of nutmegs. I exhibited these to a noted 
physician of Helena, Dr. Hovaker, and soon after the return of 
Mr. Gillette from his search for Mr. Everts, I called upon him at 
his store and exhibited to him these specimens of silica. At the 
same time I took a nutmeg from a box upon the store counter, and 
playfully asked Gillette, in the presence of Dr. Hovaker, if he had 
found any of those singular incrustations. Dr. Hovaker, believ- 
ing of course that the specimen I held in my hand came from the 
Yellowstone, took the nutmeg, and with wonder exhibited in every 
feature, proceeded to give it a critical examination, frequently 
exclaiming: "How very like it is to a nutmeg." He finally took 
a nutmeg from a box near by, and balanced the supposed incrusta- 
tion with it, declaring the former to be the lighter. Asking my 
permission to do so, he took the nutmeg (which he supposed to 
be an incrustation) to a jeweler in the vicinity, and broke it. The 
aroma left him no doubt as to its character, but he was still de- 
ceived as to its origin. When I saw him returning to the store, 
in anticipation of the reproof I should receive, I started for the 
rear door; but the Doctor, entering before I reached it, called me 
back, and in a most excited manner declared that we had discov- 
ered real nutmegs, and nutmegs of a very superior quality. He 
had no doubt that Yellowstone lake was surrounded by nutmeg 
trees, and that each cf our incrustations contained a veritable nut- 
meg. In his excitement he even proposed to organize a small 
party to go immediately to the locality to gather nutmegs, and had 
an interview with Charley Curtis on the subject of furnishing pack 
animals for purposes of transportation. When, on the following 
day, he ascertained the truth, after giving me a characteristic 
lecture, he revenged himself by good naturedly conferring upon 
the members of our party the title, by which he always called 
them thereafter, of "Nutmegs." 

N. P. Langfokd. 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 109 

The "Fan" has a distorted pipe from which are projected 
two radiating sheets of water to the height of sixty feet, re- 
sembling a feather fan. Forty feet from this geyser is a 
vent connected with it, two feet in diameter, which, during 


Named by General Washburn. 

the eruption, expels with loud reports dense volumes of va- 
por to the height of fifty feet. 

The "Grotto," so named from the singularly winding aper- 
tures penetrating the sinter surrounding it, was at rest when 

110 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 

we first discovered it. Externally it presented few indica- 
tions of its character as a geyser. Private Williamson, one 
of our escort, crawled through an aperture and looked into 
the discharging orifice. When afterwards, he saw it belch- 
ing forth a column of boiling water two feet in diameter to 
the height of sixty feet, and a scalding stream of two hun- 
dred square inches flowing from the cavern he had entered 
a short time before, he said that he felt like one who had 
narrowly escaped being summarily cooked. 

The "Castle" is on the summit of an incrusted elevation. 
This name was given because of its resemblance to the ruins 
of some old tower with its broken down turrets. The sili- 
cious sinter composing the formation surrounding it takes 
the form of small globules, resembling a ripe cauliflower, 
and the massive nodules indicate that at some former period 
the flow of water must have been much larger than at pres- 
ent. The jet is sixty feet high by four feet in diameter, and 
the vent near it, which is in angry ebullition during the 
eruption, constantly flows with boiling water. 

One of the most wonderful of the springs in this basin is 
that of ultra-marine hue directly in front of the "Castle" 
geyser. It is nearly round, having diameters of about twen- 
ty and twenty-five feet, the sides being corrugated and fun- 
nel-shaped, and at the depth of thirty feet opening out into 
a cavern of unfathomable depth, the rim of the spring hav- 
ing beautifully escalloped edges. It does not boil over, but a 
very small stream of water flows from it, and it is not 
afifected in its appearance by the spouting of the geyser in 
its immediate proximity. There is evidently no connection 
between this spring and the geyser. 

The "Giant" is a rugged deposit presenting in form a 
miniature model of the Colosseum. It has an opening three 
feet in diameter. A remarkable characteristic of this gey- 
ser is the duration of its discharges, which yesterday after- 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. I LI 

noon continued for more than an hour in a steady stream 
about three feet in diameter and one hundred and forty 
feet high. 

Opposite our camp, on the east side of the Firehole river, 
is a symmetrical cone resembling an old-fashioned straw 
beehive with the top cut off. It is about five feet in diameter 
at its base, with an irregular oval-shaped orifice having es- 
calloped edges, and of twenty-four by thirty-six inches in- 
terior diameter. No one supposed that it was a geyser, and 
until this morning, among so many wonders, it had escaped 
a second notice. Suddenly, while we were at breakfast this 
morning, a column of water shot from it, which by quite 
accurate triangular measurement proved to be two hundred 
and nineteen feet in height. Our method of triangulation 
was as follows : A point on the surface of the ground was 
marked, which was in a direct line with a branch of a tree 
near by, and of the top of the column of water when at its 
greatest height. Having obtained the perpendicular height 
of the branch of the tree from the ground, and the distance 
from this perpendicular to the point of observation and to 
the geyser cone, we were enabled to make a very accurate 
calculation of the height of the column of water. We named 
this geyser the ^'Bee Hive." 

Near by is situated the ^^Giantess," the largest of all the 
geysers we saw in eruption. Ascending a gentle slope for 
a distance of sixty yards we came to a sink or well of an 
irregular oval shape, fifteen by twenty feet across, into 
which we could see to the depth of fifty feet or more, but 
could discover no water, though we could distinctly hear 
it gurgling and boiling at a fearful rate afar down this ver- 
tical cavern. Suddenly it commenced spluttering and rising 
with incredible rapidity, causing a general stampede among 
our company, who all moved around to the windward side 
of the geyser. When the water had risen within about 

112 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

twenty-five feet of the surface, it became stationary, and 
we returned to look down upon the foaming water, which 
occasionally emitted hot jets nearly to the mouth of the 
orifice. As if tired of this sport the water began to ascend 
at the rate of five feet in a second, and when near the top it 
was expelled with terrific momentum in a column the full 
size of the immense aperture to a height of sixty feet. The 
column remained at this height for the space of about a 
minute, when from the apex of this vast aqueous mass five 
lesser jets or round columns of water varying in size from 
six to fifteen inches in diameter shot up into the atmos- 
phere to the amazing height of two hundred and fifty feet. 
This was without exception the most magnificent phenom- 
enon I ever beheld. We were standing on the side of the 
geyser exposed to the sun, whose sparkling rays filled the 
ponderous column with what appeared to be the clippings 
of a thousand rainbows. These prismatic illusions disap- 
peared, only to be succeeded by myriads of others which 
continually fluttered and sparkled through the spray dur- 
ing the twenty minutes the eruption lasted. These lesser 
jets, thrown so much higher than the main column and 
shooting through it, doubtless proceed from auxiliary pipes 
leading into the principal orifice near the bottom, where the 
explosive force is greater. The minute globules into which 
the spent column was diffused when falling sparkled like a 
shower of diamonds, and around every shadow produced by 
the column of steam hiding the sun was the halo so oftvin 
represented in paintings as encircling the head of the Savio. 
We unhesitatingly agreed that this was the greatest wonder 
of our trip. 

Mr. Hedges and I forded the Firehole river a short dis- 
tance below our camp.' The current, as it dashed over the 
boulders, was swift, and, taking off our boots and stockings, 
we selected for our place of crossing what seemed to be a 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 113 

smooth rock surface in the bottom of the stream, extending 
from shore to shore. When I reached the middle of the 
stream I paused a moment and turned around to speak to 
Mr. Hedges, who was about entering the stream, when I 
discovered from the sensation of warmth under my feet that 
I was standing upon an incrustation formed over a hot 
spring that had its vent in the bed of the stream. I ex- 
claimed to Hedges : "Here is the river which Bridger said 
was hot at tJie hottom.^^* 

How many more geysers than those we saw in eruption 
there are in this remarkable basin, it is impossible to deter- 
mine. We will be compelled reluctantly to leave it before 
it can be half explored. At least a thousand pipes rise to 
the plain, one or two hundred of which, to all appearances, 
are as likely to be geysers as any we have seen. 

This entire country is seemingly under a constant and 
active internal pressure from volcanic forces, which seek 
relief through the numberless springs, jets, volcanoes and 
geysers exhibited on its surface, and which but for these 
vents might burst forth in one terrific eruption and form a 
volcano of vast dimensions. It is undoubtedly true that 
many of the objects we see are of recent formation, and that 
many of the extinguished craters recently ceased their con- 
dition of activity. They are constantly breaking forth, often 

*James Bridger was famous for the marvelous stories he was 
accustomed to relate of his mountain life and experiences. He 
once told me that he had seen a river which flowed so rapidly over 
the smooth surface of a descending rock ledge in the bottom of 
the stream, that the water was "hot at the bottom." My experi- 
ence in crossing the Firehole river that day, leads me to believe 
that Bridger had had, at some time, a similar experience. He well 
knew that heat and fire could be produced by friction. Like other 
mountain men, he had doubtless, many a time, produced a fire by 
friction; and he could not account for the existence of a hot rock 
in the bed of a cold stream, except upon the theory that the rapid 
flow of water over the smooth surface evolved the heat, by friction. 

N. P. Langford. 

114 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

assuming new forms, and attesting to the active presence 
of volcanic force. 

The water in some of the springs presents to the eye the 
colors of all the precious gems known to commerce. In one 
spring the hue is like that of an emerald, in another like 
that of the turquoise, another has the ultra-marine hue of 
the sapphire, another has the color of the topaz; and the 
suggestion has been made that the names of these jewels 
may very properly be given to many of these springs. 

The packers with the pack train and several of our party 
broke camp at 9:30 this morning, a few of us remaining 
for an hour, hoping to have another view of an eruption of 
the "Giantess;" but in this we were disappointed, for it 
gave no sign of an eruption, save that the water, visible gen- 
erally at a depth of about twenty feet, would rise suddenly 
eight or ten feet in the well, and as suddenly fall again. 

We moved down the river on the east bank, part of the 
way through an open valley and part through fallen timber. 
At about eight miles we came upon an enormous spring of 
dark blue water, the largest we have seen. Mr. Hauser 
measured it, and says it is four hundred feet in diameter. 
The mineral solution has been deposited by the overflow 
on all sides for two hundred yards, the spring itself being 
thirty feet above the general level of the valley. Out near 
the center of the lake the water boils up a few feet, but 
without any especial violent action. The lake has no well- 
defined outlet, but overflows on many sides, the water flow- 
ing down the slopes of the incrusted mound about one-quar- 
ter of an inch deep. As we stood on the margin of this im- 
mense lake a small flock of ducks came sailing down as if 
to alight ; but as they skimmed the water a few inches above 
the surface, they seemed to scent danger, and with rapid 
flapping of their wings, all except one rose into the air. 
This one, in his descent, had gained too great an impetus 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 115 

to check his progress, and came down into the water, and 
his frantic efforts to rise again were futile, and with one or 
two loud squawks of distress, which were responded to by 
his mates who had escaped, he was in a moment "a dead 
duck." We gave no name to this lake.* 

About one hundred yards from the lake on the side 
towards the river, the incrustation breaks off perpendicu- 
larly, and another large lake is formed, the surface of which 
is about fifteen feet below the upper and larger lake. There 
are a few other springs near the river farther down the 

Jake Smith, for the first time on this trip, selected at this 
large lake a curious specimen of tufa. It was a circum- 
stance so unusual that Hedges called our attention to it, 
but as Smith was riding along holding his treasure carefully 
in his hand, his horse stumbled, and he accidentally dropped 
his specimen, and with a remark which I will not here re- 
cord, and which is at variance with his own Bible instruc- 
tion, he denounced as worthless all the specimens of the 
party which he had seen, and inveighed against the folly of 
spending any time in gathering them. 

From this point we passed down the valley close by the 
bank of the river. The valley on our right was very marshy, 
and we saw at a considerable distance one very large foun- 
tain of water spouting into the atmosphere to a considerable 
height, and many steam jets, but, owing to the swampy char- 
acter of the ground, we did not visit them.* 

When we left Helena on August 17th, we believed that 

twenty-five days would be the limit of time which would 

be consumed before our return ; but to meet all exigencies 

*This lake is now called "Hell's Half-acre;" and from the lower 
lake the "Excelsior" geyser has burst forth. 

*The fountain and jets here referred to are those of the Lower 
Geyser Basin, and the larger column of water which we saw is 
undoubtedly the "Fountain" geyser, named by Dr. Hayden in 1871. 

116 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition op 1870. 

we laid in a thirty days' supply of provisions. We have 
now been absent thirty-four days, and as we cached some 
of our supply on Yellowstone lake for Mr. Everts' relief, we 
are now on short rations, but the fish we dried while camped 
on Yellowstone lake are doing good service. 

While riding to-day alongside of Stickney and bemoan- 
ing the lack in our larder of many articles of food, such as 
sugar, coffee and tea, the supply of which has become ex- 
hausted, I asked him if he was fond of maple sugar, and 
would like a lump of it. He requested me not to tantalize 
him by mentioning the subject, whereupon I astonished 
him by producing a goodly sized cake which I had brought 
with me from Helena, and which for five weeks I had pre- 
served untouched in my seamless sack. It was enjoyed by 
all who shared it, but Stickney was especially grateful for 
his division of the sweet morsel, and received it gratefully 
and gracefully, and seemingly without reluctance, at the 
same time remarking, ^'You are always doing something to 
make me laugh!" and added, ^^You always seem to have 
another card up your sleeve when an emergency arises." 
By this last figure of speech he delicately suggested to me 
the methods adopted by Jake Smith in playing poker.* 

We have traveled to-day about eighteen miles, crossing 
just before the day closed a timbered ridge, and we are 
now camped at the junction of the Firehole river with a 

*In the course of a recent correspondence with Mr. Stickney, I 
asked him if he recalled this incident. Under date of May 20, 1905, 
he wrote me from Sarasota, Florida: "The maple sugar incident 
had almost faded from my memory, but like a spark of fire smoul- 
dering under rubbish it needed but a breath to make it live, and I 
recall my reflections, after my astonishment, that you did so many 
quaint things, that it was quite in accordance with them that you 
should produce maple sugar in a sulphurous region." 

N. P. Langford. 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 117 

stream coming into it from the east nearly as large as the 
Firehole, but to which we have given no name.* 

Tuesday, September 20. — We broke camp at half past 
nine o'clock, traveling along the rocky edge of the river 
bank by the rapids, passing thence through a beautiful pine 
wood and over a long stretch of fallen timber, blackened 
by fire, for about four miles, when we again reached the 
river, which here bends in a westerly direction. Lieutenant 
Doane and I climbed to the top of one of the two prominent 
hills on our course, and had a fine view of the country for the 
distance of thirty miles. 

Last night, and also this morning in camp, the entire 
party had a rather unusual discussion. The proposition 
was made by some member that we utilize the result of our 
exploration by taking up quarter sections of land at the 
most prominent points of interest, and a general discussion 
followed. One member of our party suggested that if there 
could be secured b}^ pre-emption a good title to two or three 
quarter sections of land opposite the lower fall of the Yel- 
lowstone and extending down the river along the canon, 
they would eventually become a source of great profit to 
the owners. Another member of the party thought that it 
would be more desirable to take up a quarter section of 
land at the Upper Geyser Basin, for the reason that that 
locality could be more easily reached by tourists and pleas- 
ure seekers. A third suggestion was that each member of 
the party pre-empt a claim, and in order that no one should 
have an advantage over the others, the whole should be 
thrown into a common pool for the benefit of the entire 

Mr. Hedges then said that he did not approve of any of 
these plans — that there ought to be no private ownership 

♦This stream was afterwards named "Gibbon river." 

118 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

of any portion of that region, but that the whole of it ought 
to be set apart as a great National Park, and that each one 
of us ought to make an effort to have this accomplished. 
His suggestion met with an instantaneous and favorable re- 
sponse from all — except one — of the members of our party, 
and each hour since the matter was first broached, our en- 
thusiasm has increased. It has been the main theme of our 
conversation to-day as we journeyed. I lay awake half of 
last night thinking about it; — and if my wakefulness de- 
prived my bed-fellow (Hedges) of any sleep, he has only 
himself and his disturbing National Park proposition to 
answer for it. 

Our purpose to create a park can only be accomplished 
by untiring work and concerted action in a warfare against 
the incredulity and unbelief of our National legislators 
when our proposal shall be presented for their approval. 
Nevertheless, I believe we can win the battle. 

I do not know of any portion of our country where a na- 
tional park can be established furnishing to visitors more 
wonderful attractions than here. These wonders are so dif- 
ferent from anything we have ever seen — they are so various, 
so extensive — that the feeling in my mind from the moment 
they began to appear until we left them has been one of in- 
tense surprise and of incredulity. Every day spent in sur- 
veying them has revealed to me some new beauty, and now 
that I have left them, I begin to feel a skepticism which 
clothes them in a memory clouded by doubt. 

Wednesday, September 21. — We broke camp soon after 9 
o'clock, traveling northwesterly down the stream, which at 
six miles entered a canon extending ten miles in a very 
tortuous course, the stream gradually bending to the west. 
The sides of the canon are steep, and a great many small 
lateral streams flow into it, forming cascades of remarkable 
beauty. There are also many springs gushing out from the 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 119 

sides of the canon afar up. Below the canon we traveled 
over a high ridge for the distance of ten miles, and camped 
in a deep coulee, where we found good water and an abun- 
dance of wood and grass. Mr. Hauser and Mr. Stickney 
all through the day were a few miles in advance of the rest 
of the party, and just below the mouth of the canon they 
met two men who manifested some alarm at sight of them. 
They had a supply of provisions packed on riding saddles, 
and were walking beside their horses. Mr. Hauser told 
them that they would meet a large party up the canon, but 
we did not see them, and they evidently cached themselves 
as we went by. The Upper Madison in this vicinity is said 
to be a rendezvous for horse thieves. We have traveled 
about twenty-five miles to-day. 

As the outcome of a general conversation to-night, I will 
leave the party to-morrow morning, and start for Virginia 
City, where I have a forlorn hope that some tidings may be 
had of Mr. Everts. We think that Virginia City is not more 
than thirty miles distant; but, as we are not now on any 
trail leading to it, I shall have to take my chances of find- 
ing it. 

Jake Smith to-day asked me if I expected that the read- 
ers of my diary would believe what I had written. He said 
that he had kept no diary for the reason that our discoveries 
had been of such a novel character, that if he were to write 
an account of them he would not be believed by those who 
read his record, and he would be set down as a liar. He 
said that he did not mind being called a liar by those who 
had known him well for many years, but he would not allow 
strangers that privilege. This ambiguous remark indicates 
that Jake has more wit and philosophy than I have given 
him the credit of possessing. 

Thursday, September 22, Virginia City. — With a small 
supply of needed creature comforts (lunch, etc.), I left the 

120 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

party early this morning, uncertain as to the time which 
would be required to take me to Virginia City. About noon 
I met a horseman who had left Virginia City this morning, 
who directed me to the trail leading to the town. He paused 
long enough to let me scan a newspaper which he had, from 
which I learned of the capitulation of the French at Sedan. 
I asked him to hand the newspaper to General Washburn, 
whose party he would meet in the Madison valley. He said 
that he would stop at the cabin of ^'Bannack George." 

The distance from our morning camp to this place is much 
farther than we thought, and it was 9 o'clock this evening 
before I reached Virginia City. Nothing has been heard of 
Mr. Everts, and his friends are shocked at the intelligence 
of his loss from our party. 

Owing to the late hour of my arrival I have met but few 
of my old acquaintances, but these are greatly interested in 
the result of our explorations, and I have promised to re- 
main here another day before starting for Helena, and give 
them a further description of what I have seen. I have en- 
joyed one good square meal. 

Tuesday, September 27, Helena. — I reached Helena last 
night. The intelligence of my arrival in Virginia City, and 
of the loss of Mr. Everts from our party, had been tele- 
graphed to Helena from Virginia City, and on my arrival 
I was besieged by many of the friends of Mr. Everts for in- 
formation concerning the manner in which he became sepa- 
rated from our party. I have spent the larger part of this 
day in describing the many wonders which we found on our 
trip, and I shall be most glad to have a few days' rest and 
put on some of my lost flesh. At the outset of this journey 
I tipped the beam of the scales at a little over one hundred 
and ninety (190) pounds, and to-day I weigh but one hun- 
dred and fifty-five (155) pounds, a loss of thirty-five (35) 
pounds. One of my friends says that I may consider myself 

Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 121 

fortunate in bringing back to civilization as much of my 
body as I did. I have already received several invitations 
from householders to meet their families and friends at their 
homes, and tell them of our trip, but the present dilapidated 
condition of my toilet renders it necessary for me to decline 
their hospitalities until some future period. My first duty 
to myself and my fellow citizens is to seek a tailor and re- 
plenish my wardrobe. Jake Smith is the only one of our 
party who has returned with a garment fit to wear in the 
society of ladies. 

My narrations to-day have excited great wonder, and I 
cannot resist the conviction that many of my auditors be- 
lieve that I have "drawn a long bow" in my descriptions. 1 
am perfectly free to acknowledge that this does not surprise 
me. It seems a most natural thing for them to do so ; for, 
in the midst of my narrations, I find myself almost as ready 
to doubt the reality of the scenes I have attempted to de- 
scribe as the most skeptical of my listeners. They pass 
along my memory like the faintly defined outlines of a 
dream. And when I dwell upon their strange peculiarities, 
their vastness, their variety, and the distinctive features of 
novelty which mark them all, so entirely out of the range 
of all objects that compose the natural scenery and won- 
ders of this continent, I who have seen them can scarcely 
realize that in those far-off recesses of the mountains they 
have existed so long in impenetrable seclusion, and that 
hereafter they will stand foremost among the natural at- 
tractions of the world. Astonishment and wonder become 
so firmly impressed upon the mind in the presence of these 
objects, that belief stands appalled, and incredulity is dumb. 
You can see Niagara, comprehend its beauties, and carry 
from it a memory ever ready to summon before you all its 
grandeur. You can stand in the valley of the Yosemite, 
and look up its mile of vertical granite, and distinctly recall 

122 Washburn Yellowstone Expedition of 1870. 

its minutest feature; but amid the canon and falls, the boil- 
ing springs and sulphur mountain, and, above all, the mud 
volcano and the geysers of the Yellowstone, your memory 
becomes filled and clogged with objects new in experience, 
wonderful in extent, and possessing unlimited grandeur and 
beauty. It is a new phase in the natural world; a fresh 
exhibition of the handiwork of the Great Architect; and, 
while you see and wonder, you seem to need an additional 
sense, fully to comprehend and believe. 


It is much to be regretted that our expedition was not 
accompanied by an expert photographer; but at the time 
of our departure from Helena, no one skilled in the art 
could be found with whom the hazards of the journey did 
not outweigh any seeming advantage or compensation 
which the undertaking promised. 

The accompanying sketches of the two falls of the Yel- 
lowstone, and of the cones of the Grand and Castle geysers, 
were made by Walter Trumbull and Private Moore. They 
are the very first ever made of these objects. Through an 
inadvertence in the preparation of the electroyped plates 
for the printer, they did not appear in their proper places 
in this diary. Major Hiram M. Chittenden, in his volume 
^'The Yellowstone Park," says of the two sketches made by 
Private Moore: "His quaint sketches of the falls forcibly 
remind one of the original picture of Niagara, made by 
Father Hennepin, in 1697." 

Original Sketch. 

Original Sketch. 


Original Sketch. 


Original Sketch. 



w- * i OH e. 


Original Sketch.