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Full text of "The rawhide railroad"

i 










UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
AT LOS ANGELES 




ROBERT ERNEST COWAN 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 
By George Estes 

Author of the "The Lawyer's Memory" 
"The Brand of Zor" 



Copyright 

1916 
By George Estes 



Publishing House 

of the 

Clackauias County News 
Canby, Oregon 




JNO. E. COWGILL 



VVA "7 



CONTENTS 

Foreword Page 10 

Chapter i Walla Walla " 1 1 

Chapter II The Railroad Builder 

Chapter III The Pioneer Bank 

Chapter IV The Columbia River 

Chapter V The Chief Engineer 

Chapter VI The Indian Messengers . . . 

Chapter VII The Train Dispatcher 

Chapter VIII Destruction of the Railroad 




276435 



14 

16 
18 
29 

36 

42 

49 



TO JOHN E. COWGILL 
Of San Francisco 

WHO, as Chief of the Railroad Teleghaph- 
ers for a long period of years on all of the vast 
Southern Pacific properties penetrating eight 
of the largest states of the Union 

HAS WON, by his tireless efforts, his re- 
sourcefulness and his fearless personality 

PRICELESS BLESSINGS, for more than 
two thousand highly skilled and faithful rail- 
way employes, 

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD to them and 
their heirs forever, 

This book is affectionately dedicated by 

GEO. ESTES, 
LL.B. of the Oregon Bar. 
Formerly a Railroad Telegrapher. 

Portland, Oregon, 1916. 




THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

Wolves Cover design 

John E. Cowgill Frontispiece 

The Whitman Massacre Page II 

"The Wall of Water." (Walla Walla) ... n 

The bags of gold weigh heavy " 13 

His cattle fattened on a thousand hills. " 15 

The village of Portland " 16 

The Pioneer Bank " 17 

Cataracts along the Columbia river ... " 18 

The painted cedar canoe " 19 

Seekolicks. (Breeches) " 29 

Skookum Chickamin , " 23 

Civilization " 25 

Golden Grain " 26 

Contributory negligence " 31 

The Indian Messengers " 36 

The Black Memaloose " 38 

A thousand cut-throats with silk hats. . . "40 

The bucking cayuse " 42 

The train dispatcher " 45 

The cowcatcher " 47 

The safety valve lets go " 49 

Rawhide " CQ 

A shadow from the forest " 52 

The wolves are coming " 52 

Railroad Him gonum hell " 45 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 
FOREWORD 

Ey George Estes, Portland, Oregon 

This is a story of a remarkable steam rail- 
road actually constructed and successfully opera- 
ted in the beautiful Walla Walla Valley many 
years ago, on which rawhide, overlaying wooden 
beams, was used in place of iron or steel rails. 
This unique road, later modernized, is now oper- 
ated as part of a large railway. It is doubtful, 
however, if through the roll of years, the chang- 
ing managements of the big line have preserved 
either record or recollection of the once famous 
rawhide railroad, which was the germ of the pres- 
ent transportation system. 

More than a quarter century ago, while in 
railroad service, it was my good fortune to come 
in contact with an old Irish section foreman, long 
since dead, who had been actually employed on 
the singular railroad. The outlines of the narra- 
tive were extracted from him disjointedly and at 
different times, but the wealth of detail and cir- 
cumstantial accuracy leaves no doubt of the truth 
of the story as a whole. 

After the catastrophe, which closes the last 
chapter, the railroad was operated successfully 
for many years with iron plates fastened on top 
of the wooden rails. 

GEO. ESTES. 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 



CHAPTER I 
WALLA WALLA 

Because of the massacre of a missionary and 
all his family a frowning fort had been establish- 
ed, manned with soldiers and armed with can- 
non, in the center of a great empire of the richest 
land on earth. 

In time a village grew up around the fort. 
They named it Walla Walla after the Indian's 
name for the valley empire in which the fort and 
village were located. The Indians' traditions 
told that in the beginning a wall of water ex- 
tended high above the whole great valley and 
in after ages sawed a way out through the rim 
and poured down the deep gorge of the Colum- 
bia to the sea. 





THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

When the water gushed out through the 
break in the western wall, the undulating bottom 
land of fertile silt was laid bare. In this rich soil 
are embedded smooth cobblestones, rounded by 
the ceaseless roll of waters, which swept them 
back and forth on the bottom of the ancient sea 
for countless ages silent but unimpeachable wit- 
nesses to the truth of the Indian legend. 

An old Indian trail, still clearly traced, 
starts at the fort, marks its winding thread across 
the shallow depressions, creases the gentlr slopes 
and deeply scars the low ridges and, stretching 
away to the northeast, leads to the gold-bearing 
country beyond. 

Far to the southeast hangs a long, dark, 
cloud of beautiful indigo, swinging low in the 
sky. It hung there just the same way before they 
built the village; even before the fort was con- 
structed, and a thousand ages before the cruel 
massacre which caused its building. One end of 
the blue starts at the sunrise and the other end 
hangs over the western rim of the world. 
That is the Blue Mountain range. 

Its blue is different from any other blue. Its 
corrugated azure chain is linked through the cen- 

12 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

ter of the Wenaha National forest. It is the 
most striking feature of the great empire, over 
whose approach from the south and east it stands 
guard, even as the winding stream of Snake River 
protects the north, and the rolling waters of the 
mighty Columbia watch the west. 

Under the shadow of the fort the village 
grew and the broad valley prospered. The long 
trails of the men who brought rich peltries and 
glistening gold led to the village out of the land 
of the sunrise, and from the Salmon River coun- 
try and from the Seven Devils mines, which lay 
beyond the low cloud of indigo. The grizzled 
trappers and bearded miners traded the peltries 
and yellow pebbles and golden sands for flour, 
bacon and plug tobacco and for gold pans and 
quicksilver at the stores in the village. 

The trails that led from the mines to the 
village were many and smoothly worn, and the 
gold dust that came over them weighed heavy in 
the buckskin bags. Because of this there was a 







THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

big trail that came to the village from the other 
way, from the great river that rolled along in the 
sunset down in the west for there is always a 
broad road to the place where the bags of gold 
weigh heavy. 

CHAPTER II 
THE RAILROAD BUILDER 

Pioneer days in western lands breed strange 
people and produce remarkable characters. 
Society is unorganized and conditions are primi- 
tive. The law does not, for a time, acquire the 
steady control over men, which is necessary to 
prevent crimes against persons and property. 

Such times and places develop strong per- 
sonalities, many of whom are questionable, if 
not wholly bad. But almost invariably some one 
man climbs to the top and ultimately stands as 
far above the general run of the community as 
the rugged crown of Hood's mighty mountain 
towers above the western world. 

In the broad empire of Walla Walla these 
times brought out their strong man. He was 
rough with that ruggedness that marks the man 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

who stalks in the open in times of danger and 
knows that he can protect himself and his from 
enemies coming four ways at once. The only 
name ever given him by the hardy settlers was 
Doc Baker. His many friends loved him by that 
name. The disappointed sharpers, who had tried 
fco bunco him and failed, hated him by the i>*rne 
name, but he commanded the respect of friends 
and enemies alike. Managed with rare judgment 
his goods multiplied. He acquired thousands of 
rolling acres of the rich silt lands of the Walla 
Walla. His cattle fattened on the tall grasses 
growing in green profusion on a thousand hills. 




In August his wheatfields waved goldenbronze 
in a thousand gentle valleys. He owned pasture 
lands, and timber lands, and orchard lands and 
meadow lands. 

But this was by no means all of the wealth 
of Doc Baker. 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 



CHAPTER III. 

THE PIONEER BANK 

Far and again far down in the west to- 
ward the sunset, past the long stretches of tree- 
less lands, around roaring rapids in the great 
river where sat the Indian village of Wish-ram, 
through a walled stone gorge, sawed down a 
mile through a mountain range is a place where 
another great river, the Willamette, comes into 
the Columbia from the south. Here a small vil- 
lage had started, composed mostly of log cabins 
with the stumps still standing in the streets. 
They named it Portland because the two men 
who owned the place tossed up a coin (which 
they had brought with them around the Horn) 
and the man who came from Maine won twice 
in the toss-up against the man who came from 
Boston. 




if 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

In this village there was one particular log 
cabin which people called a "Bank." It had been 
started by a young man a few years before, and 
his careful attention to the business had caused 
the little community to look upon his log cabin 
bank much the same as we now regard the 
United States Treasury. They were justly proud 
of the bank, because it was the only one between 
the Rocky Mountains and the sea, up and down 
the long coast line from the frozen fields of the 
polar bear to the sun-scorched shores of Panama, 
and it had been started before any National Bank 
in the United States came into existence. Its 
capital was twenty-five thousand dollars. Men 
knew what that meant because they had seen 
minted dollars before they left home on their 
journey into the sunset, around the Horn. Its 
interest rate was two per cent a month; a reason- 
able charge to men who could have paid ten 
times that and still have made money. 

On the books of the bank was an account in 
the name of Doc Baker, which could have had 
many checks of five figures drawn against it and 
the account would still have contained five fig- 
ures. And yet Doc Baker had never put in the 




17- 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

bank a dollar of money bearing the imprint of 
the United States. His deposits had been com- 
posed of yellow "dust" from beyond the Blue 
Mountains and minted slugs of gold bearing the 
design of a beaver and the legend 5D or icD, 
which passed for money in the Oregon Country. 
But the certificates given by Ladd's Bank for 
these deposits called for money of the United 
States and they were accepted by all men, then as 
now (half a centurv later), at their face in the 
Oregon Country, or for that matter in any other 
land where men had need of money. 



CHAPTER IV. 
THE COLUMBIA RIVER 

The greatness of the Columbia River is but 
dimly realized. Including its tributaries, it is 
navigable for many thousand miles in the United 
States, and what can be said of no other river, 
for thousands of miles in foreign lands, before 
its clear waters wash our native soil. The gorge 
of the Columbia, which is the mile deep crevice 
it has cut for a roadway a hundred miles through 

-18 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

the Cascade range, is one of the wonders of the 
world. The waterfalls of immense height and 
fantastic form, which leap over the towering 
escarpments and plunge downward to the river 
below as if dropped from the clouds, have no 
parallel in other lands. 

At Wallula, the nearest point on the river 
to Walla Walla, one bright spring day a painted 




cedar canoe, with high upturned prow, rested 
partly on the yellow sands of the shore and part- 
ly on the heaving surface of the river. It had 
been colored jet black with stain made from iron 
float and juice of the white oak apples and then 
striped in odd figures of Indian design, in red 
ochre mined from deep crevices in the mountains, 
and brilliant green made from the juice of the 
nettle stalk. Seated in the canoe, eating jerked 
venison, were two Klickitat Indians, one tall and 
thin, the other short and pudgy. They were Doc 
Baker's boatmen, awaiting his arrival over the 





THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

trail from Walla Walla, to take him down the 
river to the village of Portland. 

These two Indians were odd characters. 
Their names were Sapolil and Seekolicks, which 
showed both the practical and sentimental side 
of the Indian. Sapolil being inclined to take on 
flesh was himself the logical reason for the name 
he bore. His full name was Marmora Sapolil, 
which means "Indian's bread," i. e., cakes made 
from the native plant of that name, which grows 
\vild in great profusion on the Pacific Coast. Be- 
ing a necessity of life, the practical nature of Sa- 
polil's name is at once apparent. 

Seekolicks had come by his title rather dif- 
ferently, showing the sentimental side of the 
Indian. His name in the Chinook tongue means 
"breeches." At that time breeches were merely 
a luxury among the Klickitats and in fact were 
considered too advanced to be in prevailing style 
along the Columbia. However, Seekolicks was 
generally looked upon as one of the best dressers 
that ever came down the river, and his resplend- 
ent breeches were the cause of many admiring 
glances from the coy maidens of Wish-ram, the 
village at the great rapids, and in very truth his 

20 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

raiment was of the gorgeous colors of the sun- 
set, albeit he confined himself entirely to 
breeches, as the fashion of wearing shirts and 
other garments had not yet come in. It might 
be said that the breeches bore a peculiar resem- 
blance to a red flannel shirt. In fact, it had been 
whispered up and down the river that Seekolicks 
had been so fortunate as to find an old red shirt, 
discarded by some opulent miner, and by invert- 
ing it had used the arms for legs, fastening the 
tail up around his waist with a thong of deer 
sinew. Thus clad, Solomon in all his glory had 
nothing on Seekolicks. 

At this point the story teller, who writes 
by rule, will say that too much attention is being 
devoted to Seekolick's breeches. He will wag 
his head sententiously and remark that nothing 
should be put into the story that does not ad- 
vance the plot according to the patented method 
of writing short stories. But our story is not 
being written according to the patent, but ac- 
cording to the facts and besides upon Seekolicks' 
pants hangs the fate of a great empire, as we 
shall see. But for the overwhelming desires and 
passions of the savage tribes, inflamed to the 

21 




THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

burning heat by these bright pants, the Rawhide 
Railroad might never have existed and the Pacif- 
ic Northwest might yet remain a wilderness. 

In time Doc Baker arrived at the river, 
mounted on his favorite mule and accompanied 
by two horsemen carrying heavy buckskin bags, 
The bags were carefully deposited in the bottom 
of the painted canoe and the two horsemen lead- 
ing Doc Baker's mule galloped away ever the 
trail back to Walla Walla. 

The Indian boatmen shoved the canoe off 
shore and with Doc Baker seated in the center, 
shot swiftly down the swirling stream. The 
wonders of the mighty river rapidly sped by on 
either hand, but the solitary passenger in the 
graceful canoe scarcely heeded them, being en- 
grossed in weighty plans for the future. Rapidly 
the miles of water lengthened behind them as 
as they stopped only to cook and prepare food 
at favorable points along the shore, and for a 
short period for rest and sleep. On the fourth 
day they arrived at the mouth of another large 
river, the Willamette and, turning up this wide 
stream, the canoe soon plowed its nose into the 
sandy shore opposite the village of Portland. 




SKOOKUM CHICKIMIN 



T HE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 



BANK RULES 

10 Coon Skins I Deer hide. 

10 Deer Hides I Mink Peltry. 

10 Mink Peltries I Beaver Pelt. 

3 Beaver Pelts I oz. Gold Dust. 

Skunk skins are not liquid assets and must 
not be brought into the bank. 

Promissory notes must be written on buck- 
skin.* 

Customers drawing on each other in the 
bank must step outside before shooting. This 
rule has got to be lived up to. 

*In the early days of the Oregon country a 
promissory note written on buckskin was not af- 
fected by the statute of limitations and never 
ran out. 



24 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

Here Doc Baker landed and beckoning the In- 
dians to follow with the buckskin bags, went up 
the trail that led to Ladd's bank. They follow- 
ed in single file and dumped their burden on the 
bank's counter, composed of half a fir log with 
the flat side up. As they deposited their heavy 
load Sapolil muttered in gutteral tones some- 
thing that sounded like "Skookum chickimin," 
which indicated that the wily Indian was assimi- 
lating the ways of his white brother. He had 
discovered the two things nearest the white 
man's heart and person: money and breeches. 
"Skookum chickamin" translated both literally 
and freely means "Big money" and so the un- 
lettered savage understood "Big money" and 
was beginning to learn about breeches. It need- 
ed only firewater to complete his civilization. Z?^"^ 

The two bags weighed seventy-eight pounds 
Troy, on the bank's scales. Doc Baker had 
not come down the river to bring this stuff to 
the bank. He brought it because it was in the 
way at home, but his business was far weightier 
than that. Mr. Ladd asked him to wait a minute 
until he made the entry in his books "before he 
forgot it," and then they would have a smoke and 

_25 





THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

talk things over. Mr. Ladd put down the number 
"15" with three ciphers to the right, in the credit 
column of the account of Doc Baker and they 
were then ready to smoke. 

It was something really important that had 
brought Doc Baker down the long journey from 
Walla Walla to see Mr. Ladd.. 

Had Mr. Ladd ever heard of railroads? 

Yes, he had heard of railroads. 

What was a railroad like? 

Mr. Ladd described a railroad. 

, .; Doc Baker concluded that he wanted a rail- 

^road from Walla Walla to the river, so that the 
golden grain of his thousand valleys could be 
conveyed to the great water-way. 

Could Mr. Ladd get him two locomotives? 

Yes, Mr. Ladd could send a letter to his 
banking correspondent in New York, around the 
Horn. 

There was no other way. The distance to 
New York and back that way was near enough 
twenty thousand miles. The New York house, 
on the order of Mr. Ladd, would buy two locomo- 
tives, whatever their cost might be, ship them 
back around the Horn and bill the expense to the 

^26 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

bank, which in turn would charge the account 
of Doc Baker. It was all so simple and easy. 
The letter would go to New York and the loco- 
motives be shipped back and reach Portland in 
two years from that time, and they would then 
be started up the river for Wallula. 

Mr. Ladd wanted to know what Doc Baker 
would do about the iron rails for his road? 

Do? He would put down wooden rails, big 
and strong, and even if they did wear out fast 
they could be cheaply replaced. 

Mr. Ladd's next question was as to a civil 
engineer to survey, construct and maintain the 
roadway, and a train dispatcher to move trains 
and conduct transportation. 

Doc Baker was stumped for a few moments 
but not long. He remembered that he had met 
and overcome every difficulty besetting him in 
life so far. He would provide a civil engineer 
who could survey and construct the roadway. 

How long would it take to survey the road 
from Walla Walla to Wallula? 

Mr. Ladd thought it would require about 
six months. Preliminary surveys must be run 
Levels must be ascertained, meander lines draft- 

27 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

ed, cross-sectioning completed, grade stakes set. 
This was all a little puzzling to Doc Baker, but 
the train dispatcher was more so. However, he 
had made up his mind to build and operate a 
railroad from Walla Walla to the river, and that 
point once settled, all else would follow. 

His next question caused young Ladd to 
lose the grip on his clay pipe and it tumbled 
down and crashed to fragments on the split 
puncheon floor of the log cabin bank. 

"Could any plug hats be had in Portland?" 
This was so absurd that Mr. Ladd roared with 
laughter and then answered that the plug hat did 
not thrive west of the Missouri river, owing to 
lack of demand and the manifest danger to the 
wearer on account of the irresistible impulse 
which would be sure to possess the first miner 
loaded with "yellow jacket juice" to shoot a hole 
through it. 

However, Doc Baker told Mr. Ladd that he 
thought some plug hats might be needed in con- 
nection with the railroad. 

And so it fell out that a letter was started 
by the first sailing vessel leaving Portland for 
New York, around the Horn, giving the New 

28 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

York correspondent bank full power to purchase 
two narrow guage locomotives, one hundred 
pairs of car wheels and one thousand plug hats 
and ship them back to Ladd's bank. 

CHAPTER V. 

THE CHIEF ENGINEER. 

Doc Baker went back up the river in the 
painted canoe, paddled by the same two Indians, 
Sapolil and Seekolicks. 

He told the Indians what he had done. 
They had great faith in him, but thought that 
maybe he and Mr. Ladd might have had too 
much firewater together. Sometimes the white 
man did that way, and when he did, he couldn't 
talk sense for a time. Possibly Doc Baker had 
done as others did. The two Indians talked it 
over and shook their heads. They hoped that it 
might be that way and that the Devil'? wagon 
that he had told them about, that ate up wood 
and shot smoke and fire out of its head was not 
a real thing but only fire-water talk, which the 
sagacious Indians had long since discovered did 
not last. 

29 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

As soon as Doc Baker arrived home he be- 
gan planning the construction of the railroad. 
Air. Ladd had said the first requisite was a chief 
engineer to survey the line and then to build and 
keep it up afterwards. Doc Baker debated this 
matter in his mind for sometime and finally de- 
cided on Bill Green. Bill had many qualifica- 
tions for the position. He could drive a thorough- 
brace stage coach, loaded with passengers and 
gold-dust and pulled by six horses, closer to the 
edge of a precipice, without going over, than .any 
other man in the country. This showed ability 
to calculate distances accurately. With a Colt's 
revolver he had winged a horsethief in full flight 
on a cayuse pony when he was just disappearing 
below a ridge, showing ability to sight straight, 
which Mr. Ladd said was a qualification requir- 
ed of a civil engineer. He could drive twenty 
yoke of oxen so that all would pull evenly on the 
load, showing generalship and the power to com- 
mand. Mr. Ladd also said that a chief en- 
gineer should have some knowledge of law, 
on account of right-of-way disputes. Bill had 
once been foreman on an impromptu jury for a 
justice of the peace acting as coroner and had 

30 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 



sat on the remains of a bully who had terrorized 
the country, but who had at last been killed by a 
quiet citizen with whom the bully had picked a 
quarrel the quiet citizen having pulled quicker 
than the bully. The verdict of the jury voiced by 
Bill Green, was that the bully had died from con- 
tributory negligence, which gave great satis- 
faction to the community, and had at once proven 
Bill a man of tact as well as deeply learned in the 
law. 

So resourceful a man could undoubtedly 
survey and build a railroad. He was therefore 
appointed chief engineer and notified that he was 
to employ as many men as required and obtain 
all the material needed, and to proceed at once 
to survey and locate the road from Walla Walla 
to Wallula, and that the work of surveying must 
be entirely finished in six months, the time set by 
Mr. Ladd. 

The first move of the chief engineer showed 
the man of tact. He had never seen a railroad, 
nor, for that matter, had he ever heard of a trans- 
it or a level. Books of logarithms and traverse 
tables were as uncommon to him as the binomial 
theorem to hungry wolves in the Blue Mountains. 




31 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

Ground-sluicing in the Salmon River mines 
was an Irishman named Pat Prunty, who had 
given out that he was at one time a section fore- 
man on an eastern raidroad and was accordingly 
looked upon with some degree of wonder by 
those who had never seen a railroad. This man 
was sent for by Bill Green and when he arrived 
he was asked to tell all he knew about a railroad. 

The ex-section foreman explained about sur- 
veying and grading road-beds, and the use of the 
transit and levels, which of course could not be 
had in Walla Walla. But Bill Green, having 
learned what was required and that ten degree 
curves and two per cent grades should be the 
maximum, readily entered into the spirit of the 
work. He ascertained that ten degrees was a 
bend of ten inches from a straight line in sixty- 
six and six-tenths feet, that a two per cent grade 
was a rise of 105 feet in a mile. The rest was 
easy for this resourceful westerner. 

Mounted on mules and accompanied by two 
assistants provided with axes, tape line and a 
whiskey flask half filled with water, to be used 
as a lock level by sighting across the surface of 
the water in the flask held horizontal, the road 

32 




THE CHIEF ENGINEER 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

was surveyed and the grade stakes set by these 
mule-back engineers, from terminus to terminus, 
in six days, instead of six months, to the intense 
satisfaction of Doc Baker. What is more, in after 
years when the road was succesfully operated as 
a part of a great railway, no fault was found with 
the mule-back survey. 

The work of grading proceeded with equal 
rapidity. Bill Green used twenty yoke of oxen 
forty great animals of immense power, hitching 
them to a grader constructed by himself. On 
each side of the grader was a mule team hitched 
to a boom. The drivers of the mules kept the 
grader in position by pulling on it diagonally 
with the mule teams. There was an ox driver 
with a goad stick for every four yoke of oxen. 

Mounted on his mule and carrying an enor- 
mous black-snake whip, the chief engineer gal- 
loped down the long line of oxen and started up 
the leaders first, to take up the slack in the drag 
chain, which was larger in size successively be- 
tween each yoke from the front to the rear. Then 
galloping along the far-flung length of this tre- 
mendous team, the versatile chief engineer sent 
out a running fire of concussions from the black- 

34 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

snake whip, which sounded like a battle of six- 
pounders, and the mighty team bent their necks 
to the yokes and the great steel blades of the 
grader, guided by the two mule teams, bit into 
the soft earth and traveled slowly but steadily 
from Walla Walla to Wallula and the grading 
was done and the roadbed ready for the ties. 

Meantime many hewers on the mountains 
and in the quarries had been squaring stones and 
felling timbers which were brought to the grad- 
ed roadway and worked into the culverts, and 
used for ties and wooden rails as planned by Doc 
Baker. 

The ties were laid, and the heavy wooden 
stringers to take the place of iron rails were laid 
transversely upon them. Only the stringers ov 
one side of the track were spiked down to the 
ties. Those on the other side could not be spik- 
ed because there was no way of telling what the 
gauge of the locomotives would be. There was 
no telegraph line and the mail could not travel 
any faster around Cape Horn than the locomo- 
tives themselves. 

Everything was completed for the thirty 
miles between Walla Walla and Wallula except 
spiking the one rail. 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

CHAPTER VI. 
THE INDIAN MESSENGERS. 

Two years after the time when this story 
begins, the high-prowed canoe, covered with 
quaint red and green designs, glided smoothly on 
the long journey from Portland to Walla Walla. 
Sapolil and Seekolicks were its boatmen, as of 
yore. No one else was with them, and yet the 
painted canoe carried a treasure which they re- 
garded with superstitious awe. 

They had been sent to Portland by Doc Bak- 
er and directed to call at Ladd's bank for a mes- 
sage from Mr. Ladd and when it was re- 
ceived they were to bring it to Walla 
Walla. They had waited at Portland months 
for the message, but at last Mr. Ladd 
called them into the bank and handed them a 
straight stick cut from the shrub called Indian's- 
arrow, and told them to take it to Doc Baker. 
There was no writing or other message what- 
ever and no markings upon the stick. The In- 
dians looked upon the strange message with 
wonder not unmixed with superstition. A plain 




THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

stick of sufficient importance to be sent such a 
distance must be "hyas close" medicine. They 
showed the stick to the many tribes along the 
shore on their way up the stream and its fame 
spread along each bank of the Columbia. At the 
big village of Wish-ram it was taken into the 
council tent where a "skookum wawa" (big talk) 
was held, and the more fearful ones proposed its 
destruction, but Sapolil said it was "close" (big) 
medicine and if destroyed Sachem Ladd and Sa- 
chem Baker would know instantly and would 
call down trouble on the river tribes the same as 
the white man had done a few years before, 
whose wife and child had been slain by the cut- 
throats of Wish-ram while he was absent from 
his cabin in the mountains. Later he entered 
Wish-ram trembling with weakness and with the 
shadow of death upon his face, holding up his 
hands as a token that he had come in peace. 
The murderers were uneasy, but finally smoked 
the pipe of peace with the sick man, and then he 
arose unsteadily to his feet and cursed Wish-ram 
and all its people, and said that the great 
"Kaquilla Tyee (Devil) would sweep the black 
"memaloose" (death) through all their tribes. 

37 



276485 




THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

Then the white man frothed at the mouth 
with a horrible disease which had pitted his face 
in holes, and fell sprawling, in the council circle, 
dead. But the "memaloose" he had foretold 
swept over the village and pitted their faces, and 
the redmen died so fast there was none to burry 
them. 

So the bandits of Wish-ram, who lived by 
pillaging those who journeyed up and down the 
river, did not destroy the mystic stick for fear 
of the power of the "skookum" White Medicine 
Men and finally it was delivered by the Indian 
messengers to Doc Baker at Walla Walla. 

He instantly understood the message, which 
meant that the sailing ship had arrived around 
the Horn from New York, and, swinging its 
tackle far out, had dropped the two locomotives 
on the bank of the Willamette at Portland, and 
that the gauge of the locomotives was the length 
of the stick. 

Handing the stick to the Chief Engineer, 
who immediately started his gangs to work spik- 
ing down the loose wooden rail the whole length 
of the road, Doc Baker started for Portland. 

The question of bringing the locomotives 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

and equipment up the Columbia was one of great 
moment not unmixed with danger. The red rob- 
bers of Wish-ram, if they permitted the locomo- 
tives to pass around the rapids at all, would ex- 
act enormous tribute, or there would be a great 
battle which would gradually extend to the 
neighboring tribes and the result might be the 
complete annihilation of the whites, who in the 
whole northwest were at that time greatly out- 
numbered by the Indians. 

When the barges containing the tw r o 
locomotives, one hundred pairs of car wheels 
and the thousand plug hats arrived at 
the rapids of Wish-ram the wisdom of Doc 
Baker shone out anew. The resplendent breeches 
of Seekolicks, though with luster now slightly 
impaired by coatings of salmon scales, still con- 
tinued to attract the admiring glances of Wish- 
ram maidens, to the intense disgust of all the 
other bucks who from necessity were with- 
out breeches. This general feeling was, one 
might say, openly and nakedly displayed with- 
out attempt at concealment. Doc Baker had 
studied this situation from the first and now de- 
cided to profit by working with, instead of 

39 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

against, human passions and desires. He called 
a council of the head villians of Wish-ram and 
with the astuteness of an oriental peddler in the 
ancient city of Bagdad, displayed for the first 
time to the astonished gaze of the assembled 
robbers the wonders of a dress silk hat, and with 
consummate cunning bargained at the price of 
one stove-pipe for each of the doughty warriors 
of Wish-ram, not only for free passage of the 
locomotives, but for the combined power of a 
thousand naked but plug-hatted villians to drag 
the locomotives around the rapids. 




What boots it now that Seekolicks' breeches 
displayed the glories of a sunset (apologies to the 
Pacific Monthly) ? For influence with an Indian 
maiden a shiny plug hat will do more than a 
thousand dollars in stock of the Standard Oil 
Company, and Seekolicks' breeches fell behind 
m the mad race of changing fashions along the 
river. 

40 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

At last the locomotives and one hundred 
pairs of car wheels reached Wallula, where Bill 
Green had built an incline running down to the 
water in order to bring them up to the roadway. 

This he did without difficulty by hitching his 
great team of forty oxen to each locomotive in 
turn. It is safe to say that this team of oxen 
could pull as much as either locomotive, though 
not so rapidly, perhaps. 

When the locomotives were at last on the 
main line the names "Loco Ladd" and "Loco 
Blue Mountain" were painted on their cab panels. 
Thus Doc Baker honored the two greatest ob- 
jects, to him, in the world. The road was ready 
for service, the cars having been previously con- 
structed entirely of wood and the car wheels 
brought from New York had been placed under 
them. 

The chief engineer had conducted all these 
operations from the saddle of his mule. He gal- 
loped back from the leading yoke of the forty-ox 
team, to where Doc Baker stood near the loco- 
motives, now on the main line, and solemnly an- 
nounced to his chief that the road was ready for 
business. Then turning to the train dispatcher, 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

also mounted on a long-legged mule with two 
big horse pistols hanging low on his hips, the 
chief engineer formally turned over the complet- 
ed railroad from the Construction to the Operat- 
ing Department in these terse terms: "Their 
vour'n. Get to hell out o' here with 'em." 



CHAPTER VII. 
THE TRAIN DISPATCHER. 

Mindful of Mr. Ladd's suggestions, Doc 
Baker had selected a train dispatcher to conduct 
transportation on the railroad. 

The train dispatcher had charge of the move- 
ment of trains, therefore he must be a man of 
quick action. His selection was a problem. But 
Doc Baker's resourcefulness was a match for all 
exigencies. His mind at once settled on Josh 
Moore as the very man for the place. 

Josh could ride the worst bucking cayuse on 
the range, which showed his ability to hanri' 
way freight crews. A particularly bad cayuse 
that had defeated all others was assigned him to 
break. After the usual preliminaries, the horse, 
standing first on his head and then on his hind 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

feet rolled over, but when the cayuse was on his 
back Josh was still astride the animal's belly, 
and when the cayuse arose to all fours 
cigain, he found the rider still on his back. Then 
as a last resort the cayuse took the bit and bolt- 
ed for the low limb of a spreading oak tree to 
scrape Josh off, but the latter merely rose to his 
ieet on the animal's back, vaulted over the limb 
and landed astride of the cayuse on the other side. 
The cayuse was vanquished, but Josh had lost 
his boots. 

Many stories are told of Josh's familiarity 
with the Henry rifle. It is said that an Indian 
once stole his horse and outfit and before Josh 
could get to his gun, galloped out of sight around 
the south side of a hill. Without waiting an in- 
stant Josh swung the gun to his shoulder and 
sighting a rock wall on a detached peak to the 
north of the hill, fired. The bullet caromed on 
the rock wall and passing behind the hill brought 
down the fleeing Indian. This showed keen abil- 
ity to make good meeting points without loss of 
time to either of the moving objects. 

The ability to make meeting points and to 
withstand the bucking of the local freight crews 

_43 




THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

being the principal qualifications of a train dis- 
patcher as laid down by the philosophy of Pat 
Prunty, Josh Moore was inducted into the office. 
The chief engineer and train dispatcher com- 
prised all the officers of the road. The train dis- 
patcher hired a discharged fireman and a deck- 
hand from a river boat at Portland and they 
were put in charge of the locomotives as engin- 
eers at salaries of $50.00 per month each. Then 
he hired two cowboys off the range for firemen 
at $75.00 each, reasoning that the firemens' work 
was harder that the engineers'. Telegraph sys- 
tems were not to be thought of, but Josh Moore 
was mounted on a swift mule and equipped with 
two horse pistols (which he said had been raised 
from Colt's) and by a code of signals comprising 
pistol shots he galloped from one train to the 
other and gave his orders in such a manner that 
the crews had no difficulty in getting them 
through their heads without back talk which 
train dispatchers meet with nowadays. 

Doubtless many a train dispatcher, housed 
at a big terminal, who may read this account of 
primitive railroading will long for the simple but 
effective methods of Josh Moore. 




THE TRAIN DISPATCHER 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

But the most intensely practical side of the 
train dispatcher was perhaps best illustrated in 
his conception of the locomotive pilots some- 
times called "cowcatchers." When the locomo- 
tives first arrived at Wallula the train dispatcher, 
taking Pat Prunty the source of all railroad wis- 
dom, along with him, proceeded to look them 
over. He inquired of Prunty the purpose of the 
"V" shaped combination of slats on the front 
ends of the locomotives. Prunty explained that 
these were called "cowcatchers" and were to 
clear the track of cattle. The train dispatcher re- 
marked that the bunch of corset staves might be 
serviceable for catching cows in the City of New 
York, but in the great west cows were harder 
to catch and more dangerous when caught. His 
authority in reality being as absolute as the coun- 
try operator thinks the authority of the average 
dispatcher is today, he ordered the pilots ripped 
off the two locomotives and low platforms built 
in their stead. On each of these platforms he 
stationed one of his best hunting dogs which he 
quickly trained, when cattle on the tracks were 
approached, to leap to the ground and drive them 
away. The dogs at once grasped the responsibili- 

46 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

ty of their important railroad positions and thirty 
minutes before departure of each train from their 
respective terminals at Walla Walla and Wallula, 
without the service of the caller, they took their 
positions on their locomotive platforms and, like 
the great figure heads on the ship prows of the 
conquering Vikings, they piloted the trains 
across the Walla Walla valley faithful to their 
duties as "cowcatchers" in fact as well as in 
name. 

The Rawhide Railroad, though operating in 
a cattle country, under the wise direction of Bill 
Green and Josh Moore paid fewer claims for 
cattle killed according to its size than any other 
railroad in the world. 

Nor did the two "cowcatchers," 'Tonto" 
and "Thor" ever "bark" on account of their over- 
time being short on payday. They were watch- 
ful of other things besides six o'clock and the 
pay car. 

After taking formal charge of the road at 
Wallula, Josh Moore ordered the engines fired up 
with wood and the run made to Walla Walla. 
After the fires had been burning in the boxes for 
a time something let go on one of the engines 
with such a terrific crash that the assembled cow- 

48 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

boys galloped frantically across the prairie to a 
place of safety and the thousand naked plug'hat- 
ted pirates from Wish-ram, thinking that the end 
had come, plunged headlong over the bank and 
into the Columbia's seething depths. Even the 
chief engineer and train dispatcher controll- 
ed themselves with difficulty and tried to look 
as if they had a lifelong familiarity with the 
blowing off of safety valves. 

In time the locomotives on wooden rails 
reached Walla Walla and were received there 
with the same speeches that are always made un- 
der such circumstances. 



CHAPTER VIII. 
DESTRUCTION OF THE RAILROAD. 

Soon it was found that the gnawing move- 
ments of the tread and flanges of the locomotive 
drivers quickly wore off the tops and edges of the 
wooden rails making it necessary constantly to 
renew them. 

The pioneer of the Pacific coast has one fav- 
orite "metal" on which he relies to surmount all 




THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

difficulties the renowned rawhide. He who un- 
derstands it can accomplish wonders with it. But 
its antics are strange to those from eastern lands, 
unfamiliar with its peculiar properties. 

The pioneers delight to tell of the tenderfoot 
who did not know how rawhide would stretch 




when wet and contract when dry. He hitched up 
his team with rawhide harness in .a rain storm, 
and attached a drag chain to a log, intending to 
pull it to his cabin for fuel. Driving the team to 
the cabin, he looked back and saw that the log 
had not moved, the rain causing the rawhide har- 
ness to stretch all the way to the house. Disgust- 
ed, he unharnessed the horses and threw the har- 
ness over a stump. The sun came out, and con- 
tracting the harness, pulled the log up to the 
house. 

Possessed of enormous qualities of this dur- 
able material, Doc Baker directed that the wood- 
en rails be "plated" with rawhide from Walla 

50 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

Walla to Wallula. It hardened in the summer 
sun and made the roadway practical!} indes- 
tructible. 

In the rainy season the rawhide became soft 
and the road could not be operated, but there 
was no occasion to operate it in the winter time, 
for the reason that there was no traffic, and when 
the snow melted in the spring, the sun blazing 
out over the valley quickly put the rawhide rail- 
road in good condition and ready for train ser- 
vice. 

Finally there came a winter of terrible sever- 
ity on the Pacific coast which was long spoken 
of as the "hard winter." 

In the empire of Walla Walla it did untold 
damage. The snow fell very deep throughout the 
land. With the first rains and snows the raw- 
hide railroad ceased operation. for the winter, ac- 
cording to its usual custom, as the rawhide had 
become soft as mush. 

Provisions become scarce. Great hard- 
ships and suffering were experienced. Cattle 
raisers were obliged to begin feeding their stock 
earlier than usual and soon the feed ran shoi t. 
In desperation they turned the cattle out on the' 

51 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 




range, which was covered with deep snow. Bliz- 
zards swept over the prairie lands and many of 
the cattle froze to death standing erect, a grue- 
some sight. 

The deer in the Blue Mountains were starv- 
ed and frozen and the wolves from the fastnesses 
of the distant Rockies on the east and from ice- 
bound Canada on the north swept over the coun- 
try, devouring the carcasses of the frozen deer 
and after these were all gone, forced on by fam- 
ishing hunger, and growing bolder as the win- 
ter became more and more severe, they crept out 
over the great valley of Walla Walla in search 
of food. 

Driven at last in desperation, to sustain their 
lives, the red-throated, ravening monsters, run- 
ning in great packs, crowded on and on to the 
very edge of the village of Walla Walla, search- 
ing for carcasses of frozen cattle which they paw- 
ed out of the snow and quickly devuored. 

The beleaguered village now felt that it was 
only a question of days, perhaps hours, if the 




52 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

storm did not break, when they would have to 
fight the oncoming horde of famished fiends to 
preserve their very lives. And everyone was piv 
pared for the final conflict. 

One night, late in midwinter, the blizzard 
was roaring and howling across the prairie and 
*now was Calling in long slanting sheets, when 
a trv/nendaous disturbance was made at the door 
of Doc Baker's home. 

Grabbing up a loaded pistol, the doctor ran 
to the door, fearing the last stand against the 
wolves was at hand. Opening the door cautious- 
ly, he saw outside the two faithful Indians, Sapo- 
lil and Sekolicks, seeking admission. They hurl- 
ed their shivering bodies through the doorway 
and began in a mixture of English and Chinook. 
a wild effort to communicate some disastrous in- 
telligence to their friend, Doc Baker. 

Their excitement was so great that the only 
word the doctor could catch in the first rush of 
their attempt to talk, was "wolves." 

Without waiting for more, the doctor called 
to all the men of the household to arm themselves 
quickly and prepare for a fight against the com- 
ing onslaught of the wolves. Then turning to his 

53 



THE RAWHIDE RAILROAD 

sideboard he poured a good big drink of strong 
wkiskey for each of the Indians, now trembling 
with cold and excitement. This disposed of, he 
pushed them down by the roaring fire-place and 
forced them to deliver their message slowly and 
in a manner that could be understood. 

In broken English, interwoven with Chin- 
ook, Sapolil finally succeeded in disclosing the 
terrible information, which ran as follows : 

"Railroad him gonum hell. Damn wolves 
"digum out eatum all up Wallula to Walla 
"Walla." 

THE END. 







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