Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands
Part 3 out of 6
Northwest of Marysville the plain is broken by a singularly lovely range
of mountains, the Buttes. They rise abruptly from the plain, and their
peaks reach from two to three thousand feet high. It is an extremely
pretty miniature mountain range, having its peaks, passes, and canons--all
the features of the Sierra--and it is well worth a visit. Butte is a word
applied to such isolated mountains, which do not form part of a chain, and
which are not uncommon west of the Mississippi. Shasta is called a butte;
Lassen's Peaks are buttes; and the traveler across the continent hears the
word frequently applied to mountain. It is pronounced with the _u_ long.
Along the banks of the Sacramento there are large quantities of land which
is annually overflowed by the river, and much of which is still only used
for pasturage during the dry season, when its grasses support large herds
of cattle and sheep, which are driven to the uplands when the rains begin
to fall. But much of this swamp and tule land has been drained and diked,
and is now used for farm land. It produces heavy crops of wheat, and
its reclamation has been, and continues to be, one of the successful
speculations in land in this State. It will not be long before the shores
of the Sacramento and its tributaries will be for many miles so diked that
these rivers will never break their bounds, and thus a very considerable
area will be added to the fertile farming lands of the State.
Already, however, the Yuba, the Feather, and the American rivers,
tributaries of the Sacramento, have been leveed at different points for
quite another reason. These rivers, once clear and rapidly flowing within
deep banks, are now turbid, in many places shallow, and their bottoms have
been raised from twenty to thirty feet by the accumulation of the washings
from the gold mines in the foot-hills. It is almost incredible the
change the miners have thus produced in the short space of a quarter of a
century. The bed of the Yuba has been raised thirty feet in that time; and
seeing what but a handful of men have effected in so short a period, the
work of water in the denudation of mountains, and the scouring out
or filling up of valleys during geological periods becomes easily
All our Northern fruits thriftily in the Sacramento Valley, and also
the almond, of which thousands of trees have been planted, and a few
considerable orchards are already in bearing. The cherry and the plum do
remarkably well, the latter fruit having as yet no curculio or blight; and
the canning and drying of peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, and pears
are already, as I shall show in detail farther on, a considerable as well
as very profitable business. Dried plums, in particular, sell at a price
which makes the orchards of this fruit very valuable. Excellent raisins
have also been made, and they sell in the open market of San Francisco
for a price very little less than that of the best Malaga raisins. The
climate, with its long dry summer, is very favorable to the drying and
curing of every fruit: no expensive houses, no ovens or other machinery,
are needed. The day is not distant when the great Sacramento plain will
be a vast orchard, and the now unoccupied foot-hills will furnish a large
part of the raisins consumed in the United States. For the present the
population is scant, and cattle, horses, and especially sheep, roam
over hundreds of thousands of acres of soil which needs only industrious
farmers to make it bloom into a garden.
[Illustration: TRAINING A VINE.]
The farmer in this State is a person of uncommon resources and ingenuity.
I think he uses his brains more than our Eastern farmers. I do not mean to
say that he lives better, for he does not. His house is often shabby, even
though he be a man of wealth, and his table is not unfrequently without
milk; he buys his butter with his canned vegetables in San Francisco, and
bread and mutton are the chief part of his living, both being universally
good here. But in managing his land he displays great enterprise, and has
learned how to fit his efforts to the climate and soil.
The gathering of the wheat crop goes on in all the valley lands with
headers, and you will find on all the farms in the Sacramento Valley the
best labor-saving machinery employed, and human labor, which is always the
most costly, put to its best and most profitable uses. They talk here of
steam-plows and steam-wagons for common roads, and I have no doubt the
steam-plow will be first practically and generally used, so far as the
United States are concerned, in these Californian valleys, where I have
seen furrows two miles long, and ten eight-horse teams following each
other with gang-plows.
Withal, they are somewhat ruthless in their pursuit of a wheat crop. You
may see a farmer who plows hundreds of acres, but he will have his wheat
growing up to the edge of his veranda. If he keeps a vegetable garden, he
has performed a heroic act of self-denial; and as for flowers, they must
grow among the wheat or nowhere.
Moreover, while he has great ingenuity in his methods, the farmer of the
Sacramento plain has but little originality in his planting. He raises
wheat and barley. He might raise a dozen, a score, of other products, many
more profitable, and all obliging him to cultivate less ground, but it
is only here and there you meet with one who appreciates the remarkable
capabilities of the soil and climate. Near Tehama some Chinese have in
the last two years grown large crops of pea-nuts, and have, I was told,
realized handsome profits from a nut which will be popular in America,
I suppose, as long as there is a pit or a gallery in a theatre; but the
pea-nut makes a valuable oil, and as it produces enormously here, it will
some day be raised for this use, as much as for the benefit of the
old women who keep fruit-stands on the street corners. It would not be
surprising if the Chinese, who continue to come over to California in
great numbers, should yet show the farmers here what can be done on small
farms by patient and thorough culture. As yet they confine their culture
of land mainly to vegetable gardens.
To the farmer the valley and foot-hill lands of the Sacramento will be the
most attractive; and there are still here thousands of acres in the hands
of the Government and the railroad company to be obtained so cheaply
that, whether for crops or for grazing, it will be some time before the
mountainous lands and the pretty valleys they contain, north of Redding,
the present terminus of the railroad, will attract settlers. But for the
traveler the region north of Redding to the State line offers uncommon
The Sacramento Valley closes in as you journey northward; and at
Red Bluff, which is the head of navigation on the river, you have a
magnificent view of Lassen's Peaks on the east--twin peaks, snow-clad, and
rising high out of the plain--and also of the majestic snow-covered crag
which is known as Shasta Butte, which towers high above the mountains to
the north, and, though here 120 miles off, looks but a day's ride away.
Redding, thirty miles north from Shasta, lies at the head of the
Sacramento Valley. From there a line of stage-coaches proceeds north
into Oregon, through the mass of mountains which separates the Sacramento
Valley in California from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The stage-road
passes through a very varied and picturesque country, one which few
pleasure travelers see, and which yet is as well worth a visit as any part
of the western coast. The Sacramento River, which rises in a large
spring near the base of Mount Shasta, has worn its way through the high
mountains, and rushes down for nearly a hundred miles of its course an
impetuous, roaring mountain stream, abounding in trout at all seasons,
and in June, July, and August filled with salmon which have come up here
through the Golden Gates from the ocean to spawn. The stage-road follows
almost to its source the devious course of the river, and you ride along
sometimes nearly on a level with the stream, and again on a road-bed cut
out of the steep mountain side a thousand or fifteen hundred feet above
the river; through fine forests of sugar-pines and yellow pines many of
which come almost up to the dimensions of the great sequoias.
The river and its upper tributaries abound in trout, and this region is
famous among Californian sportsmen for deer and fish. Many farm-houses
along the road accommodate travelers who desire to stay to enjoy the fine
scenery, and to hunt and fish; and a notable stopping-place is Fry's Soda
Spring, fourteen hours by stage from Redding, kept by Isaac Fry and his
excellent wife--a clean, comfortable little mountain inn, where you get
good and well-cooked food, and where you will find what your stage ride
will make welcome to you--a comfortable bath. The river is too cold for
bathing here in the mountains because of the snow-water of which it is
composed. About ten miles south of Fry's lies Castle Rock, a remarkable
and most picturesque mountain of white granite, bare for a thousand feet
below its pinnacled summit, which you see as you drive past it on the
Fry's lies in a deep canon, with a singular, almost precipitous, mountain
opposite the house, which terminates in a sharp ridge at the top, one of
those "knife-edge" ridges of which Professor Whitney and Clarence King
often speak in their descriptions of Sierra scenery. If you are a mountain
climber, you have here an opportunity for an adventure, and an excellent
guide in Mr. Fry, who told me that this ridge is sharp enough to straddle,
and that on the other side is an almost precipitous descent, with a fine
lake in the distance. If you wish to hunt deer or bear, you will find
in Fry an expert and experienced hunter. He has a tame doe, which, I was
told, is better than a dog to mark game on a hunt, its sharp ears and
nose detecting the presence of game at a great distance. If you are
a fisherman, there are within three minutes' walk of the house pools
abounding in trout, and you may fish up and down the river as far as you
please, with good success everywhere. In June and July, when the salmon
come up to spawn, they, too, lie in the deepest pools, and with salmon
eggs for bait you may, if you are expert enough with your rod, take many a
[Illustration: A BOTTLING-CELLAR.]
It is astonishing to see how the salmon crowd the river at the spawning
season. The Indians then gather from a considerable distance, to spear and
trap these fish, which they dry for winter use; and you will see at this
season many picturesque Indian camps along the river. They set a crotch of
two sticks in a salmon pool, and lay a log from the shore to this crotch.
Upon this log the Indian walks out, with a very long spear, two-pronged at
the end and there armed with two bone spear-heads, which are fastened to
the shaft of the spear by very strong cord, usually made of deer's sinews.
The Indian stands very erect and in a really fine attitude, and peers into
the black pool until his eye catches the silver sheen of a salmon. Then
he darts, and instantly you see a commotion in the water as he hauls up
toward the surface a struggling twenty-five or thirty pound fish. The
bone spear heads, when they have penetrated the salmon, come off from the
spear, and the fish is held by the cord. A squaw stands ready on the shore
to haul him in, and he is beaten over the head with a club until he ceases
to struggle, then cleaned, and roasted on hot stones. When the meat is
done and dry it is picked off the bones, and the squaws rub it to a fine
powder between their hands, and in this shape it is packed for future use.
From one of these pools a dozen Indian spearmen frequently draw out four
hundred salmon in a day, and this fish forms an important part of their
food. Of course they kill a great many thousand female salmon during the
season; but so far, I believe, this murderous work has not been found to
decrease the number of the fish which annually enter the river from the
ocean, and go up to its head waters to spawn.
If you visit this region during the last of June or in July, you may watch
the salmon spawning, a most curious and remarkable sight. The great fish
then leave the deep pools in which they have been quietly lying for some
weeks before, and fearlessly run up on the shallow ripples. Here, animated
by a kind of fury, they beat the sand off the shoals with their tails,
until often a female salmon thus labors till her tail fins are entirely
worn off. She then deposits her eggs upon the coarse gravel, and the
greedy trout, which are extravagantly fond of salmon eggs, rush up to eat
them as the poor mother lays them. They are, I believe, watched and beaten
off by the male salmon, which accompanies the female for this purpose.
When the female salmon has deposited her eggs, and the male salmon has
done his part of the work, the two often bring stones of considerable size
in their mouths to cover up the eggs and protect them from the predatory
attacks of the trout.
And thereupon, according to the universal testimony of the fishermen of
these waters, the salmon dies. I was assured that the dead bodies often
cumber the shore after the spawning season is over; and the mountaineers
all assert that the salmon, having once spawned up here, does not go down
to the ocean again. They hold that the young salmon stay in the upper
waters for a year, and go to sea about eighteen months after hatching; and
it is not uncommon, I believe, for fishermen hereabouts to catch grilse
weighing from two to four pounds. These bite sometimes at the fly. The
salmon bite, too, when much smaller, for I caught one day a young salmon
not more than six inches long. This little fellow was taken with a bait
of salmon eggs, and his bright silvery sides made him quite different from
the trout which I was catching out of the same pool. His, head, also
had something of the fierce, predatory, hawk-like form which the older
Fry is an excellent fisherman himself, and knows all the best pools within
reach of his house, and, if you are a mountaineer, will take you a dozen
miles through the woods to other streams, where you may fish and hunt for
days or weeks with great success, for these woods and waters are as yet
visited by but few sportsmen.
And if you happen to come upon Indian fishermen on your way--they are all
peaceful hereabouts--you may get the noble red man's opinion of the
great Woman Question. As I stood at the road-side one day I saw an Indian
emerging from the woods, carrying his rifle and his pipe. Him followed,
at a respectful distance, his squaw, a little woman not bigger than a
twelve-year-old boy; and _she_ carried, first, a baby; second, three
salmon, each of which weighed not less than twenty pounds; third, a wild
goose, weighing six or eight pounds; finally, a huge bundle of some kind
of greens. This cumbrous and heavy load the Indian had lashed together
with strong thongs, and the squaw carried it on her back, suspended by a
strap which passed across her forehead.
When an Indian kills a deer he loads it on the back of his squaw to carry
home. Arrived there, he lights his pipe, and she skins and cleans the
animal, cuts off a piece sufficient for dinner, lights a fire, and cooks
the meat. This done, the noble red man, who has calmly or impatiently
contemplated these labors of the wife of his bosom, lays down his pipe and
eats his dinner. When he is done, the woman, who has waited at one side,
sits down to hers and eats what he has left.
"Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow." Miss Anthony and
Mrs. Cady Stanton have good missionary ground among these Indians. One
wonders in what language an Indian brave courts the young squaw whom he
wishes to marry; what promises he makes her; what hopes he holds out;
with what enticing views of wedded bliss he lures the Indian maiden to the
altar or whatever may be the Digger substitute for that piece of church
furniture. One wonders that the squaws have not long ago combined and
struck for at least moderately decent treatment; that marriages have not
ceased among them; that there has not arisen among the Diggers, the Pit
River Indians, and all the Indian tribes, some woman capable of leading
her sex in a rebellion.
But, to tell the truth, the Indian women are homely to the last degree.
"Ugly," said an Oregonian to me, as we contemplated a company of
squaws--"ugly is too mild a word to apply to such faces;" and he was
right. Broad-faced, flat-nosed, small-eyed, unkempt, frowzy, undersized,
thickset, clumsy, they have not a trace of beauty about them, either young
or old. They are just useful, nothing more; and as you look at them and
at the burdens they bear, you wonder whether, when the Woman's Rights
movement has succeeded, and when women, dressed like frights in such
Bloomer costume as may then be prescribed, go out to their daily toil like
men, and on an equality with men--when they have cast off the beauty which
is so scornfully spoken of in the conventions, and have secured their
rights--whether they will be any better off than these squaws. When you
have thoughtfully regarded the Indian woman perhaps you will agree with
Gail Hamilton that it is woman's first duty to be useless; for it is plain
that here, as in a higher civilization, when women consent to work as men,
they are sure to have the hardest work and the poorest pay.
[Illustration: INDIAN RANCHERIA.]
As you ascend the Sacramento you near Mount Shasta, and when you reach
Strawberry Valley, a pretty little mountain vale, you are but a short ride
from its base. It is from this point that tourists ascend the mountain.
You can hire horses, guides, and a camp outfit here, and the adventure
requires three days. You ride up to the snow-line the first day, ascend to
the top the following morning, descend to your camp in the afternoon, and
return to the valley on the third day. Mount Shasta has a glacier, almost,
but not quite, the only one, I believe, within the limits of the United
States. The mountain is an extinct volcano. Its summit is composed of
lava, and if your eye is familiar with the peculiar shape of volcanic
peaks, you can easily trace the now broken lines of this old crater as you
view the mountain from the Shasta plain on the north.
There are many extremely pretty valleys scattered through these mountains,
and these are used by small farmers, and by sheep and cattle owners who
in the winter take their stock into the lower valleys, but ascend into the
mountains in May, and remain until October. This is also a timber region,
and as it is well watered by permanent streams you see frequent saw-mills,
and altogether more improvement than one expects to find. But, proceeding
further north you come upon a large plain, the Shasta Valley, in which
lies the considerable town of Yreka, notable during the last winter and
spring as the point from which news came to us about the Modoc war.
From Yreka you may easily visit the celebrated "lava beds," where the
Indians made so stubborn and long-continued a defense against the United
States troops; and at Yreka you may hear several opinions upon the merits
of the Modocs and their war. You will hear, for instance, that the Indians
were stirred up to hostilities by mischievous and designing whites, that
white men were not wanting to supply them with arms and ammunition, and
that, had it not been for the unscrupulous management of some greedy and
wicked whites, we should not have been horrified by the shocking incidents
of this costly Indian trouble, in which the United States Government for
six months waged war against forty-six half-starved Modocs.
The Shasta Valley is an extensive plain, chiefly used at present as
a range for cattle and sheep. But its soil is fertile, and the valley
contains some good farms. Beyond Yreka gold mining is pursued, and,
indeed, almost the whole of the mountain region north of Redding yields
"the color;" and at many points along the Upper Sacramento and the
mountain streams which fall into it, gold is mined profitably. One day,
at the Soda Spring, several of us asked Mr. Fry whether he could find
gold near the river. He took a pan, and digging at random in his orchard,
washed out three or four specks of gold; and he related that when he was
planting this orchard ten years ago he found gold in the holes he dug for
his apple-trees. But he is an old miner, and experience has taught him
that a good apple orchard is more profitable, in the long run, than a poor
A large part of the Sacramento Valley is still used for grazing purposes,
but the farmers press every year more and more upon the graziers; and the
policy of the Government in holding its own lands within what are called
"railroad limits"--that is to say, within twenty miles on each side of the
railroad--for settlement under the pre-emption and homestead laws, as well
as the policy of the railroad company in selling its lands, the alternate
sections for twenty miles on each side of the road, on easy terms and with
long credit to actual settlers, prevents land monopoly in this region.
There is room, and cheap and fertile land, for an immense population
of industrious farmers, who can live here in a mild climate, and till
a fertile soil, and who need only intelligence and enterprise to raise
profitably raisins, orchard fruits, castor-oil, peanuts, silk, and a
dozen other products valuable in the world's commerce, and not produced
elsewhere in this country so easily. It is still in this region a time of
large farms poorly tilled; but I believe that small farms, from 160 to 320
acres, will prove far more profitable in the end.
The progress of California in material enterprises is something quite
wonderful and startling. A year brings about changes for which one can
hardly look in ten years. It is but eighteen months ago that the idea of a
system of irrigation, to include the whole of the San Joaquin Valley, was
broached, and then the most sanguine of the projectors thought that to
give their enterprise a fair start would require years, and a great number
of shrewd men believed the whole scheme visionary. But a few experiments
showed to land-owners and capitalists the enormous advantages of
irrigation, and now this scheme has sufficient capital behind it, and
large land-holders are offering subsidies and mortgaging their lands
to raise means to hasten the completion of the canal. Two years ago
the reclamation of the tule lands, though begun, advanced slowly,
and arguments were required to convince men that tule land was a safe
investment. But this year eight hundred miles of levee will be completed,
and thousands of acres will bear wheat next harvest which were overflowed
eighteen months ago. Two years ago the question whether California could
produce good raisins could not be answered; but last fall raisins which
sold in the San Francisco market beside the best Malagas were cured by
several persons, and it is now certain that this State can produce--and
from its poorest side-hill lands--raisins enough to supply the whole
Union. Not a year passes but some new and valuable product of the soil is
naturalized in this State; and one who has seen the soil and who knows the
climate of the two great valleys, who sees that within five, or, at most,
ten years all their overflowed lands will be diked and reclaimed, and all
their dry lands will be irrigated, and who has, besides, seen how wide is
the range of products which the soil and climate yield, comes at last to
have what seems to most Eastern people an exaggerated view of the future
But, in truth, it is not easy to exaggerate, for the soil in the great
valleys is deep and of extraordinary fertility; there are no forests to
clear away, and farms lie ready-made to the settlers' hands; the range of
products includes all those of the temperate zone and many of the torrid;
the climate is invigorating, and predisposes to labor; and the seasons are
extraordinarily favorable to the labors of the farmer and gardener. The
people have not yet settled down to hard work. There are so many chances
in life out there that men become overenterprising--a speculative spirit
invades even the farm-house; and as a man can always live--food being
so abundant and the climate so kindly--and as the population is as yet
sparse, men are tempted to go from one avocation to another, to do many
things superficially, and to look for sudden fortunes by the chances of
a shrewd venture, rather than be content to live by patient and continued
labor. This, however, is the condition of all new countries; it will pass
away as population becomes more dense. And, meantime California has gifts
of nature which form a solid substratum upon which will, in a few years,
be built up a community productive far beyond the average of wealthy or
productive communities. This is my conclusion after seeing all parts of
this State more in detail than perhaps any one man has taken the trouble
to examine it.
[Illustration: PIEDRAS BLANCAS.]
WINE AND RAISINS--PROFITS OF DRYING FRUITS.
I have now seen the grape grow in almost every part of California where
wine is made. The temptation to a new settler in this State is always
strong to plant a vineyard; and I am moved, by much that I have seen, to
repeat here publicly advice I have often given to persons newly coming
into the State: Do not make wine. I remember a wine-cellar, cheaply built,
but with substantial and costly casks, containing (because the vineyard
was badly placed) a mean, thin, fiery wine; and on a pleasant sunny
afternoon, around these casks, a group of tipsy men--hopeless,
irredeemable beasts, with nothing much to do except to encourage each
other to another glass, and to wonder at the Eastern man who would not
drink. There were two or three Indians staggering about the door; there
was swearing and filthy talk inside; there was a pretentious tasting of
this, that, and the other cask by a parcel of sots, who in their hearts
would have preferred "forty-rod" whisky. And a little way off there was a
house with women and children in it, who had only to look out of the door
to see this miserable sight of husband, father, friends, visitors, and
hired men spending the afternoon in getting drunk.
I do not want any one to understand that every vineyard is a nest of
drunkards, for this is not true. In the Napa and Sonoma valleys, in
the foot-hills of the Sierra, at Anaheim and elsewhere in the southern
country, you may find many men cultivating the grape and making wine in
all soberness. But everywhere, and in my own experience nearly as often,
you will see the proprietor, or his sons or his hired men, bearing the
marks of strong drink; and too often, if you come unexpectedly, you will
see some poor wretch in the wine-house who about four o'clock is maudlin.
[Illustration: POINT ARENA LIGHT-HOUSE.]
Seeing all this, I advise no new settler in the State to make wine.
He runs too many risks with children and laborers, even if he himself
In giving this advice, I do not mean to be offensive to the great body of
wine growers in California, which numbers in its list a great many
able, careful, and sober men, who are doing, as they have done, much and
worthily for the prosperity of the State and for the production of good
wine, and whose skill and enterprise are honorable to them. But the best
and most thoughtful of these men will bear me out when I say that wine
growing and making is a business requiring eminent skill and great
practical good sense, and that not every one who comes to California with
means enough to plant a vineyard ought to enter this business or can in
the long run do so safely or profitably.
Fortunately, no one need make wine, though every man may raise grapes;
for it is now a fact, established by sufficient and practical trial,
that raisins, equal in every respect to the best Malaga, can be made in
California from the proper varieties of grapes, and can be sold for a
price which will very handsomely pay the maker, and with a much smaller
investment of capital and less skill than are required to establish a
wine-cellar and make wine. The vineyard owners already complain that they
can not always readily sell their crude wine at a paying price; but the
market for carefully-made raisins is, as I am told by the principal fruit
dealers in San Francisco, open and eager. To make wine requires uncommon
skill and care, and to keep it so that age shall give it that merit which
commands a really good price demands considerable capital in the necessary
outlay for casks. While the skillful wine-maker undoubtedly gets a large
profit on his vines, it begins to be seen here that there is an oversupply
of poorly-made wine.
But any industrious person who has the right kind of grapes can make
raisins; and raisin-making, which in 1871 had still a very uncertain
future in this State, may now safely be called one of the established and
most promising industries here.
In 1872 I ate excellent raisins in Los Angeles, and tolerable ones in
Visalia; but they sell very commonly in the shops what they call
"dried grapes," which are not raisins at all, but damp, sticky,
disagreeable things, not good even in puddings. This year, however, I
have seen in several places good native raisins; and the head of the
largest fruit-importing house in San Francisco told me that one
raisin-maker last fall sold the whole of his crop there at $2 per box
of twenty-five pounds, Malagas of the same quality bringing at the
same time but $2.37-1/2. There is a market for all well-made raisins
that can be produced in the State, he said, and they are preferred to
the foreign product.
At Folsom, Mr. Bugby told me he had made last year 1700 boxes of raisins,
and he was satisfied with the pecuniary return; and I judge from the
testimony of different persons that at seven cents per pound raisins will
pay the farmer very well. The Malaga and the White Muscat are the grapes
which appear here to make the best raisins. Nobody has yet tried the
Seedless Sultana, which, however, bears well here, and would make, I
should think, an excellent cooking raisin.
For making raisins they wait until the grape is fully ripe, and then
carefully cut off the bunches and lay them either on a hard clay floor,
formed in the open air, or on brown paper laid between the vine rows. They
do not trim out poor grapes from the bunches, because, as they assert,
there are none; but I suspect this will have to be done for the very
finest raisins, such as would tempt a reluctant buyer. The bunches require
from eighteen to twenty-four days of exposure in the sun to be cured.
During that time they are gently turned from time to time, and such as are
earliest cured are at once removed to a raisin-house.
This is fitted with shelves, on which the raisins are laid about a foot
thick, and here they are allowed to sweat a little. If they sweat too much
the sugar candies on the outside, and this deteriorates the quality of the
raisin. It is an object to keep the bloom on the berries. They are kept in
the raisin-house, I was told, five or six weeks, when they are dry enough
to box. It is as yet customary to put them in twenty-five pound boxes,
but, no doubt, as more experience is gained, farmers will contrive other
parcels. Chinese do all the work in raisin-making, and are paid one dollar
a day, they supplying themselves with food. There is no rain during the
raisin-making season, and, consequently, the whole outdoor work may be
done securely as well as cheaply.
Enormous quantities of fruit are now put up in tin cans in this State;
and you will be surprised, perhaps--as I was the other day--to hear of an
orchard of peach and apricot trees, which bears this year (1873) its first
full crop, and for one hundred acres of which the owners have received ten
thousand dollars cash, gold, selling the fruit on the trees, without risk
of ripening or trouble of picking.
Yet peaches and apricots are not the most profitable fruits in this State,
for the cherry--the most delicious cherries in the world grow here--is
worth even more; and I suspect that the few farmers who have orchards
of plums, and carefully dry the fruit, make as much money as the cherry
owners. There has sprung up a very lively demand for California dried
plums. They bring from twenty to twenty-two cents per pound at wholesale
in San Francisco, and even as high as thirty cents for the best quality;
and I am told that last season a considerable quantity was shipped
Eastward and sold at a handsome profit in New York.
The plum bears heavily and constantly north of Sacramento, and does not
suffer from the curculio, and the dried fruit is delicious and wholesome.
Some day the farmers who are now experimenting with figs will, I do not
doubt, produce also a marketable dried fig in large quantities. At San
Francisco, in October, 1873, I found in the shops delicious dried figs,
but not in great quantities, nor so thoroughly dried as to bear shipment
to a distance. The tree nourishes in almost all parts of the State.
Usually it bears two and often three crops a year, and it grows into a
noble and stately tree.
I am told that when Smyrna figs sell for twenty to thirty cents per pound,
California figs bring but from five to ten cents. The tree comes into full
bearing, where its location is favorable, in its third or fourth year; and
ought to yield then about sixty pounds of dried figs. I suspect the cost
of labor will control the drying of figs, for they must be picked by hand.
If they fall to the ground they are easily bruised, and the bruised part
They are dried in the shade, and on straw, which lets the air get to every
part. Irrigation is not good after the tree bears, as the figs do not dry
so readily. Birds and ants are fond of the fruit; and in one place I was
told the birds took almost the whole of the first crop. There are many
varieties of the fig grown in this State, but the White Smyrna is, I
believe, thought to be the best for market. There are no large plantations
of this tree in the State, but it is found on almost every farm and
country place, and is a very wholesome fruit when eaten green.
When the farmers of the Sacramento Valley become tired of sowing wheat,
and when the land comes into the hands of small farmers, as it is now
doing to some extent, it will be discovered that fruit-trees are surer and
more profitable than grain. A considerable emigration is now coming into
California; and I advise every one who goes there to farm to lose no time
before planting an orchard. Trees grow very rapidly, and it will be many
years before such fruits as the cherry, plum, apricot, or the raisin-grape
are too abundant to yield to their owners exceptionally large profits.
[Illustration: SHIPPING LUMBER, MENDOCINO COUNTY.]
THE TULE LANDS AND LAND DRAINAGE.
While you are talking about redeeming the New Jersey marshes these
go-ahead Californians are actually diking and reclaiming similar and, in
some cases, richer overflowed lands by the hundred thousand acres.
If you will take, on a map of California, Stockton, Sacramento, and San
Francisco for guiding points, you will see that a large part of the land
lying between these cities is marked "swamp and overflowed." Until within
five or six years these lands attracted but little attention. It was known
that they were extremely fertile, but it was thought that the cost and
uncertainty of reclaiming them were too great to warrant the enterprise.
Of late, however, they have been rapidly bought up by capitalists, and
their sagacity has been justified by the results on those tracts which
have been reclaimed.
These Tule lands--the word is pronounced as though spelled "toola"--are
simply deposits of muck, a mixture of the wash or sediment brought down
by the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers with the decayed vegetable matter
resulting from an immense growth of various grasses, and of the reed
called the "tule," which often grows ten feet high in a season, and decays
every year. The Tule lands are in part the low lands along the greater
rivers, but in part they are islands, lying in the delta of the Sacramento
and San Joaquin rivers, and separated from each other by deep, narrow
"sloughs," or "slews" as they are called--branches of these rivers, in
fact. Before reclamation they are overflowed commonly twice a year--in the
winter, when the rains cause the rivers to rise; and again in June, when
the melting of the snows on the mountains brings another rise. You may
judge of the extent of this overflowed land by the following list of the
principal Tule Islands:
Rough and Ready Island.................1,500
These are the largest islands; but you must understand that on the
mainland, along the Sacramento and its affluents, there is a great deal of
similar land, probably at least twice as much more, perhaps three times.
The swamp and overflowed lands were given by Congress to the State; and
the State has, in its turn, virtually given them to private persons. It
has sold them for one dollar per acre, of which twenty per cent. was paid
down, or twenty cents per acre; and this money, less some small charges
for recording the transfer and for inspecting the reclamation, is
returned by the State to the purchaser if he, within three years after the
purchase, reclaims his land. That is to say, the State gives away the land
on condition that it shall be reclaimed and brought into cultivation.
During a number of years past enterprising individuals have undertaken
to reclaim small tracts on these islands by diking them, but with not
encouraging success, and it was not until a law was passed empowering the
majority of owners of overflowed lands in any place to form a reclamation
district, choose a Board of Reclamation, and levy a tax upon all the land
in the district, for building and maintaining the dikes or levees that
these lands really came into use.
[Illustration: A WATER JAM OF LOGS.]
Now, this work of draining is going on so fast that this year nearly six
hundred miles of levee will be completed among the islands alone, not
to speak of reclamation districts on the main-land. There seems to be
a general determination to do the work thoroughly, the high floods of
1871-72 having shown the farmers and land-owners that they must build high
and strong levees, or else lose all, or at least much, of their labor and
outlay. During the spring of 1872 I saw huge breaks in some of the levees,
which overflowed lands to the serious damage of farmers, for not only is
the crop of the year lost, but orchards and vineyards, which flourish on
the Tule lands, perished or were seriously injured by the waters.
Chinese labor is used almost entirely in making the levees. An engineer
having planned the work, estimates are made, and thereupon Chinese foremen
take contracts for pieces at stipulated rates, and themselves hire their
countrymen for the actual labor. This subdivision, to which the perfect
organization of Chinese labor readily lends itself, is very convenient.
The engineer or master in charge of the work deals only with the
Chinese foremen, pays them for the work done, and exacts of them the due
performance of the contract.
The levee stuff is taken from the inside; thus the ditch is inside of the
levee, and usually on the outside is a space of low marsh, which presently
fills with willow and cotton-wood. You may sail along the river or slough,
therefore, for miles, and see only occasional evidences of the embankment.
The soil is usually a tough turf, full of roots, which is very cheaply cut
out with an instrument called a "tule-knife," and thrown up on the levee,
where it seems to bind well, though one would not think it would. At
frequent intervals are self-acting tide-gates for drainage; these are made
of the redwood of the coast, which does not rot in the water. The rise and
fall of the tides is about six feet. The levees have been in some places
troubled with beaver, which, however, are now hunted for their fur, and
will not long be troublesome. There is no musk-rat--an animal which would
do serious damage here. The tule-rat lives on roots on the land, but is
not active or strong enough to be injurious.
The levee is usually from six to eight feet broad on top, with the inside
sloping; but I was told that experience had shown that the outside should
be perpendicular. It is not unusual for parts of a levee to sink down,
but I could hear of no case of capsizing. The Levee Board of a district
appoints levee-masters, whose duty it is to look after the condition
of the work, and on the islands I visited there were gangs of Chinamen
engaged in repairing and heightening the embankments.
You land at a wharf, and, standing on top of the levee, you see before you
usually the house and other farm buildings, set up on piles, for security
against a break and overflow; and beyond a great track of level land, two
or three or five feet below the level of the levee, and, if it has but
lately been reclaimed, covered with the remnants of tules and of grass
When the levee is completed, and the land has had opportunity to drain
a little, the first operation is to burn it over. This requires time and
some care, for it is possible to burn too deep; and in some parts the fire
burns deep holes if it is not checked. If the land is covered with dry
tules, the fire is set so easily that a single match will burn a thousand
acres, the strong trade-wind which blows up the river and across these
lands carrying the fire rapidly. If the dry tules have been washed off,
a Chinaman is sent to dig holes through the upper sod; after him follows
another, with a back-load of straw wisps, who sticks a wisp into each
hole, lights it with a match, and goes on. At this rate, I am told, it
cost on one island only one hundred dollars to burn fifteen hundred acres.
When this work is done you have an ash-heap, extremely disagreeable to
walk over, and not yet solid enough to bear horses or oxen. Accordingly,
the first crop is put on with sheep. First the tract is sowed, usually
with a coffee-mill sower or hand machine, and, I am told, at the rate of
about thirty pounds of wheat to the acre, though I believe it would be
better to sow more thickly. Then comes a band or flock of about five
hundred sheep. These are driven over the surface in a compact body, and at
no great rate of speed, and it is surprising how readily they learn what
is expected of them, and how thoroughly they tramp in the seed. Dogs are
used in this work to keep the sheep together, and they expect to "sheep
in," as they call it, about sixteen acres a day with five hundred animals,
giving these time besides to feed on the levee and on spare land.
Tule land thus prepared has actually yielded from forty to sixty bushels
of wheat per acre. It does not always do so, because, as I myself saw,
it is often badly and irregularly burned over, and probably otherwise
mismanaged. The crop is taken off with headers, as is usual in this State.
For the second year's crop the land is plowed. A two-share gang-plow is
used, with a seat for the plowman. It is drawn by four horses, who have to
be shod with broad wooden shoes, usually made of ash plank, nine by eleven
inches, fastened to the iron shoes of the horse by screws.
The soil does not appear to be sour, and no doubt the ashes from the
burning off do much to sweeten it where it needs that. But several years
are needed to reduce the ground to its best condition for tillage, and the
difference in this respect between newly-burned or second-crop lands and
such matured farms as that of Mr. Bigelow on Sherman Island--who has been
there eight or nine years--is very striking.
It seemed to me that the farmers and land-owners with whom I spoke knew
"for certain" but very little about the best ways to manage these lands,
and that the advice of a thorough scientific agriculturist, like Professor
Johnson of Yale, would be very valuable to them. Now, they know only that
the land when burned over will bear large crops of wheat; and, of course,
in all practical measures for economically putting in and taking off a
wheat crop the Californian needs no instructor.
The soil seemed to me, so far as they dig into it--say six feet deep--to
be, not peat, but a mass of undecayed or but partly decayed roots,
strongly adhering together, so that the upper part of a levee, taken of
course from the lowest part of the ditch, lay in firm sods or tussocks.
These, however, seem to decay pretty rapidly on exposure to the air.
The drainage is not usually deeper than four feet, and in places the
water-level was but three feet below the surface. The newly reclaimed land
being very light, suffers from the dry season, and is often irrigated,
which, as it lies below the river-level, can be quickly and cheaply done.
Sherman Island was one of the earliest to be reclaimed, and there I
visited the fine farm of Mr. Bigelow--a New Hampshire man, I believe, and
apparently a thorough farmer. He has lived on tule land ten years, and
his fields were consequently in the finest condition. Here I saw a
three-hundred-acre field of wheat, as fine as wheat could be. He thought
he should get about forty-five bushels per acre this year. He had got, he
told me, between sixty-five and seventy bushels per acre, and without any
further labor the next year brought him from the same fields fifty-two
bushels per acre as a "volunteer" or self-seeded crop.
Here I saw luxuriant red clover and blue grass, and he had also a field
of carrots, which do well on this alluvial bottom, it seems. But what
surprised me more was to find that apples, pears, peaches, plums, grapes,
apricots--all the fruits--do well on this soil. With us I think the pear
would not do well on peat; but here it withstood last year's flood, which
broke a levee and overflowed Mr. Bigelow's farm, and the trees do not
appear to have suffered. He had also wind-breaks of osier willow, which of
course grows rapidly, and had been a source of profit to him in, yielding
cuttings for sale.
Timothy does not do well on tule land, as its roots do not push down deep
enough, and the surface of such light soils always dries up rapidly. Mr.
Bigelow told me that he once sowed alfalfa in February with wheat, and
took off forty-five bushels of wheat per acre, and a ton and a half of
alfalfa later; and pastured (in a thirty-acre field) twenty-five head of
stock till Christmas on the same land, after the hay was cut.
They have one great advantage on the tule lands--they can put in their
crops at any time from November to the last of June.
It was very curious to sit on the veranda at the farm-house, after dinner,
with a high levee immediately in front of us almost hiding the Sacramento
River, and with a broad canal--the inner ditch--full of fresh water,
running along the boundary as far as the eye could reach, the level of
the levee broken occasionally by tide-gates. The prospect would have been
monotonous had we not had at one side the lovely mountain range of which
Mount Diablo is the prominent peak. But the great expanse of clean fields,
level as a billiard-table, and in as fine tilth as though this was a model
farm, was a delight to the eye, too.
It may interest grape-growers in the East to be told that of what we call
"foreign grapes," the Muscat of Alexandria succeeds best in these moist,
peaty lands. It is the market grape here. Trees have not grown to a great
size on the tule lands, but bees are very fond of the wild-flowers which
abound in the unreclaimed marshes, and, having no hollow trees to build
in, they adapt themselves to circumstances by constructing their hives on
the outside or circumference of trees.
[Illustration: MOUNT HOOD, OREGON.]
Fencing costs here about three hundred and twenty dollars per mile. The
redwood posts are driven into the ground with mauls. Farm laborers receive
in the tules thirty dollars per month and board if they are white men, but
one dollar a day and feed themselves, where they are Chinese.
On Twitchell Island I found an experiment making in ramie and jute, Mr.
Finch, formerly of Haywards, having already planted twenty-six acres of
ramie, and intending to put seven acres into jute, for which he had the
plants all ready, raised in a canvas-covered inclosure. He raised ramie
successfully last year, and sold, he told me, from one-tenth of an acre,
two hundred and sixty three pounds of prepared ramie, for fifteen cents
per pound. He used, to dress it, a machine made in California, which
several persons have assured me works well and cheaply, a fact which ramie
growers in Louisiana may like to know; for the chief obstacle to ramie
culture in this country has been, so far, the lack of a cheap and
rapidly-working machine for its preparation. It struck me that Mr. Finch's
experiment with ramie and jute would promise better were it not made on
new land from which I believe only one crop had been taken.
When these tule lands have been diked and drained, they are sold for from
twenty to twenty-five dollars per acre. Considering the crops they bear,
and their nearness to market--ships could load at almost any of the
islands--I suppose the price is not high; but a farmer ought to be sure
that the levees are high enough, and properly made. To levee them costs
variously, from three to twelve dollars per acre.
The tule lands which lie on the main-land, and which are equally rich with
the islands, are usually ditched and diked for less than six dollars per
acre; and this sum is regarded, I believe, by the State Commissioners
as the maximum which the owners are allowed to borrow on reclamation
land-bonds for the purpose of levee building.
I spoke awhile back of the existence of beavers in the tule country. Elk
and grizzly bears used also to abound here, and I am told that on the
unreclaimed lands elk are still found, though the grizzlies have gone to
the mountains. One of the curiosities hereabouts is the ark, or floating
house, used by the hunters, which you see anchored or moored in the
sloughs: in these they live, using a small boat when they go ashore to
hunt, and floating from place to place with the tide. On one of these arks
I saw a magnificent pair of elk horns from an animal recently shot.
[Illustration: COAST VIEW, MENDOCINO COUNTY.]
SHEEP-GRAZING IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.
In the last year I have received a good many letters from persons desirous
to try sheep-farming in California, and this has led me to look a little
closely into this business as it is conducted in the northern parts of
There is no doubt that the climate of California gives some exceptional
advantages to the sheep-grazer. He need not, in most parts of the State,
make any provision against winter. He has no need for barns or expensive
sheds, or for a store of hay or roots. His sheep live out-of-doors all
the year round, and it results that those who have been so fortunate as
to secure cheaply extensive ranges have made a great deal of money, even
though they conducted the business very carelessly.
It ought to be understood, however, by persons who think of beginning with
sheep here, that the business has changed considerably in character within
two or three years. Land, in the first place, has very greatly risen in
price; large ranges are no longer easily or cheaply obtained, and in the
coast counties of Southern California particularly large tracts are now
too high-priced, considering the quality of the land and its ability to
carry sheep, for prudent men to buy.
Moreover, Southern California has some serious disadvantages for
sheep-grazing which the northern part of the State--the Sacramento Valley
and the adjoining coast-range and Sierra foot-hills--are without, and
which begin to tell strongly, now that the wool of this State begins to
go upon its merits, and is no longer bought simply as "California wool,"
regardless of its quality. Southern California has a troublesome burr,
which is not found north of Sacramento, except on the lower lands. In
Southern California it is often difficult to tide the sheep over the fall
months in good order, whereas in the northern part of the State they
have a greater variety of land, and do this more easily. The average of
southern wool brings less by five or six cents per pound than that of the
Sacramento Valley; and this is due in part to the soil and climate, and in
part to the fact that sheep are more carefully kept in the northern part
of the State.
Many of the sheep farmers in the Sacramento Valley have entirely done away
with the mischievous practice of corraling their sheep--confining them
at night, I mean, in narrow, crowded quarters--a practice which makes and
keeps the sheep scabby. They very generally fence their lands, and thus
are able to save their pasture and to manage it much more advantageously.
They seem to me more careful about overstocking than sheep farmers
generally are in the southern part of the State, though it should be
understood that such men as Colonel Hollester, Colonel Diblee, Dr. Flint,
and a few others in the South, who, like these, have exceptionally fine
ranges, keep always the best sheep in the best manner. But smaller tracks,
sown to alfalfa, are found to pay in the valleys where the land can be
In Australia and New Zealand sheep inspectors are appointed, who have
the duty to examine flocks and force the isolation of scabby sheep; and
a careless flock-master who should be discovered driving scabby sheep
through the country would be heavily fined; here the law says nothing
on this head, but I have found this spring several sheep owners in the
Sacramento Valley who assured me that they had eradicated scab so entirely
from their flocks that they dealt also by isolation with such few single
specimens as they found to have this disease.
Moreover, I find that the best sheep farmers aim to keep, not the largest
flocks, but the best sheep. There is no doubt that the sheep deteriorates
in this State unless it is carefully and constantly bred up. "We must
bring in the finest bucks from Australia, or the East, or our own State,"
said one very successful sheep farmer to me; "and we must do this all the
time, else our flocks will go back." "It is more profitable to keep fewer
sheep of the best kind than more not quite so good. It is more profitable
to keep a few sheep always in good condition than many with a period of
semi-starvation for them in the fall," said another; and added, "I would
rather, if I were to begin over again, spend my money on a breed worth six
dollars a head, than one worth two or three dollars, and I would rather
not keep sheep at all than not fence." He had his land--about twenty-five
thousand acres--fenced off in lots of from four to six thousand acres, and
into one of these he turned from six to eight thousand sheep, leaving them
to graze as they pleased. He had noticed, he told me, that whereas the
sheep under the usual corral system feed the greater part of the day, no
matter how hot the sun, his sheep in these large pastures were lying down
from nine in the morning to four or five in the afternoon; and he often
found them feeding far into the night, and rising again to graze long
before daylight. They were at liberty to follow their own pleasure, having
water always at hand. An abundant supply of water he thought of great
[Illustration: INDIAN SWEAT-HOUSE.]
Of course, where the sheep are turned out into fenced land no shepherds
are required, which makes an important saving. One man, with a horse,
visits the different flocks, and can look after ten or fifteen thousand
The farmer whom I have quoted does not dip his sheep to prevent or cure
scab, but mops the sore place, when he discovers a scabby sheep, with a
sponge dipped into the scab-mixture.
He gets, he told me, from his flock of ten thousand merinoes, an average
of seven pounds per head of wool, and he does not shear any except the
lambs, in the fall. It is a common but bad practice here to shear all
sheep twice a year; and where, as is too often the case, a flock is very
scabby, no doubt this is necessary.
He had long sheds as shelter for his ewes about lambing-time, so as to
protect them against fierce winds and cold rain storms; and he saved every
year about two hundred tons of hay, cut from the wild pastures, to feed
in case the rain should hold off uncommonly late. His aim was to keep the
sheep always in good condition, so that there should never be any weak
place in the wool. His sheds cost him about one dollar per running foot.
The sheep found their own way to them.
I find it is the habit of the forehanded sheep-grazers in the Sacramento
Valley to own a range in the foot-hills and another on the bottom-lands.
During the summer the sheep are kept in the bottoms, which are then dry
and full of rich grasses; in the fall and winter they are taken to the
uplands, and there they lamb, and are shorn. Where the range lies too far
away from any river, they drive the sheep in May into the mountains, where
they have green grass all summer; and about Red Bluff I saw a curious
sight--cattle and horses wandering, singly or in small groups, of their
own motion, to the mountains, and actually crossing the Sacramento without
driving; and I was told that in the fall they would return, each to its
master's rancho. I am satisfied that, except, perhaps, for the region
north of Redding, where the winters are cold and the summers have rain and
green grass, and where long-wooled sheep will do well, the merino is the
sheep for this State; and "the finer the better," say the best sheep men.
Near Red Bluff I saw some fine Cotswolds, and in the coast valleys north
of San Francisco these and Leicesters, I am told, do well.
A great deal of the land which is now used for sheep will, in the next
five, or at most ten years, be plowed and cropped. There is a tendency to
tax all land at its real value; and, except with good management, it will
not pay to keep sheep on land fit for grain and taxed as grain land, which
a great deal of the grazing land is. As the State becomes more populous,
the flocks will become smaller, and the wool will improve in quality at
the same time.
I have seen a good deal of alfalfa in the Sacramento Valley, but I have
seen also that the sheep men do not trust to it entirely. They believe
that it will be better for sheep as hay than as green food; and this
lucerne grows so rankly, and has, unless it is frequently cut, so much
woody stalk, that I believe this also. It makes extremely nice hay.
Every man who comes to California to farm ought to keep some sheep; and he
can keep them more easily and cheaply here than anywhere in the East.
For persons who want to begin sheep-raising on a large scale and with
capital the opportunities are not so good here now; but there are yet fine
chances in Nevada, in the valley of the Humboldt, where already thousands
of head of cattle, and at least one hundred thousand sheep, are now fed by
persons who do not own the land at all. I am told extensive tracts could
be bought there at really low prices, and with such credit on much of it
as would enable a man with capital enough to stock his tract to pay for
the land out of the proceeds of the sheep. The white sage in the Humboldt
Valley is very nutritious, and there is also in the subsidiary valleys
bunch-grass and other nutritious food for stock. Not a few young men have
gone into this Humboldt country with a few hundreds of sheep, and are now
wealthy. The winters are somewhat longer than in California, but the sheep
find feed all the year round; and they are shorn near the line of the
railroad, so that there is no costly transportation of the wool. Mutton
sheep, too, are driven to the railroad to be sent to market, and for
stock, therefore, this otherwise out-of-the-way region is very convenient.
Riding through the foot-hills near Rocklin--where I had been visiting
a well-kept sheep-farm--I saw a curious and unexpected sight. There are
still a few wretched Digger Indians in this part of California; and what I
saw was a party of these engaged in catching grasshoppers, which they boil
and eat. They dig a number of funnel-shaped holes, wide at the top, and
eighteen inches deep, on a cleared space, and then, with rags and brush,
drive the grasshoppers toward these holes, forming for that purpose a
wide circle. It is slow work, but they seem to delight in it; and their
excitement was great as they neared the circle of holes and the insects
began to hop and fall into them. At last there was a close and rapid
rally, and half a dozen bushels of grasshoppers were driven into the
holes; whereupon hats, aprons, bags, and rags were stuffed in to prevent
the multitudes from dispersing; and then began the work of picking them
out by handfuls, crushing them roughly in the hand to keep them quiet,
and crowding them into the bags in which they were to be carried to their
"Sweet--all same pudding," cried an old woman to me, as I stood looking
on. It is not a good year for grasshoppers this year; nothing like the
year of which an inhabitant of Roseville spoke to me later in the day,
when he said, "they ate up every bit of his garden-truck, and then sat on
the fence and asked him for a chew of tobacco."
The sheep ranges of the northern interior counties are less broken up than
in the coast counties farther south; and it is better and more profitable,
in my judgment, to pay five dollars per acre for grazing lands in the
Sacramento Valley than two dollars and a half for grazing lands farther
south and among the mountains. The grazier in the northern counties has
two advantages over his southern competitor: first, in the ability to buy
low-lying lands on the river, where he can graze from three to six or even
ten sheep to the acre during the summer months, and where he may plant
large tracts in alfalfa; and, secondly, in a safe refuge against drought
in the mountain meadows of the Sierras, and in the little valleys and
fertile hill-slopes of the Coast Range, where there is much unsurveyed
Government land, to which hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle are
annually driven by the graziers of the plain, who thus save their own
pastures, and are able to carry a much larger number of sheep than they
Moreover, nearness to the railroad is an important advantage for the
sheep-farmer; and I found that the most enterprising and intelligent sheep
men in the northern counties send their wool direct by railroad to the
Eastern States, instead of shipping it to San Francisco to be sold.
Finally, much of the land now obtainable for grazing in the Sacramento
Valley, at prices in some cases not too dear for grazing purposes, is of
a quality which will make it valuable agricultural land as soon as the
valley begins to fill up; and thus, aside from the profit from the sheep,
the owner may safely reckon upon a large increase in the value of his
land. This can not be said of much of the grazing land of the southern
coast counties, which is mountainous and broken, and fit only for grazing.
Of course I speak here of the average lands only. There are large tracts
or ranchos in the southern coast counties, such as the Lampoe rancho
of Hollester & Diblee, and lands in the Salinas Valley, which are
exceptionally fine, and to which what I have said of the coast panchos
generally does not apply.
[Illustration: ANOTHER COAST-VIEW, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.]
THE CHINESE AS LABORERS AND PRODUCERS.
As I crossed from Oakland to San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon last
July, there were on the ferry-boat a number of Chinese. They were decently
clad, quiet, clean, sat apart in their places in the lower part of the
boat conversing together, and finally walked off the boat when she came to
land as orderly as though they had been Massachusetts Christians.
There were also on the boat a number of half-grown and full-grown white
boys, some of whom had been fishing, and carried their long rods with
them. These were slouchy, dirty, loud-voiced, rude; and, as they passed
off the boat, I noticed that with their long rods they knocked the hats of
the Chinese off their heads, or punched them in the back, every effort of
this kind being rewarded with boisterous laughter from their companions.
Nor did they confine their annoyance entirely to the Chinese, for they
jostled and pushed their way out through the crowd of men and women very
much as a gang of pickpockets on a Third Avenue car in New York conducts
itself when its members mean to steal a watch or two.
These rowdies were "Hoodlums;" and it is the Hoodlums chiefly who clamor
about the Chinese, and who are "ruined by Chinese cheap labor." The
anti-Chinese agitation in San Francisco has led me to look a little
closely into this matter, and I declare my belief that there are not a
hundred decent men who work for a living in that city engaged in this
crusade against the Chinese. If you could to-day assemble there all who
join in this persecution, and if then you took from this assemblage all
the Hoodlums, all the bar-room loafers, and all the political demagogues,
I don't believe you would have a hundred men left on the ground. That is
to say, the people who actually earn the bread they eat do not persecute
If an Eastern reader suggests that it argues a lack of public spirit
in the decent part of the community to allow the roughs to rule in this
matter, I take leave to remind him of the time, not very long ago, when
the same combination of Hoodlum and demagogue mobbed negroes in New York,
and threatened vengeance if colored people were allowed to ride in the
street-cars. Here, as there then, there are unfortunately newspapers
which ignorantly pander to this vile class, and help to swell the cry of
persecution. And here, as in New York a few years ago, it results that
the proscribed race is hardly dealt with, not only by the roughs, but
sometimes in the courts, and gets scant and hard justice dealt out to it.
The courageous and upright action of Mayor Alvord in vetoing the inhuman
and silly acts of the city supervisors, which, by-the-way, has made him
one of the most popular men in California, for the moment shamed the
demagogues and silenced the rowdies; but there are means of annoying the
Chinese within the law, which are still used. For instance, there is an
ordinance declaring a fine for overcrowding tenement-houses, and requiring
that in every room there shall be five hundred cubic feet of air for each
occupant, and for violating this a fine of ten dollars is imposed. This
ordinance is enforced only against the Chinese--so I am assured on the
best authority, and they only are fined. But justice would seem to demand
not only that the law should be enforced against all alike, but that the
owner of the property should be made liable for its misuse as well as the
unfortunate and ignorant occupants.
The Chinese quarter in San Francisco consists, for the most part, of a lot
of decayed rookeries which would put our own Five Points to the blush. The
Chinese live here very much as the Five Points' population lives in New
York. And here, as there, respectable people--or people at any rate who
would think themselves insulted if you called their respectability in
question--own these filthy and decayed tenements; live in comfort on the
rent paid them by the Chinese; perhaps go to church on Sunday, and, no
doubt, thank God that they are not as other people. It is very good
to fine a poor devil of a Chinaman because he lives in an overcrowded
tenement; but what a stir there would be if some enterprising San
Francisco journal should give a description of these holes, and the
different uses they are put to, and add the names and residences of the
California has, according to Cronise--a good authority--40,000,000 acres
of arable land. It has, according to the last census, 560,247 people, of
whom 149,473 live in San Francisco, and yet nowhere in the United States
have I heard so much complaint of "nothing to do" as in San Francisco.
One of the leading cries of the demagogues here is that the Chinese are
crowding white men out of employment. But one of the complaints most
frequently heard from men who need to get work done is that they can
get nobody to do it. A hundred times and more, in my travels through the
State, I have found Chinese serving not only as laborers, but holding
positions where great skill and faithfulness were required; and almost
every time the employer has said to me, "I would rather, of course, employ
a white man, but I can not get one whom I can trust, and who will stick
to his work." In some cases this was not said, but the employer spoke
straight out that he had tried white men, and preferred the Chinese as
more faithful and painstaking, more accurate, and less eye-servants.
A gentleman told me that he had once advertised in the San Francisco
papers for one hundred laborers; his office was besieged for three days.
Three hundred and fifty offered themselves, all presumably ruined by
Chinese cheap labor; but all but a dozen refused to accept work when they
heard that they were required to go "out of the city."
The charge that the Chinese underbid the whites in the labor market is
bosh. When they first come over, and are ignorant of our language, habits,
customs, and manner of work, they no doubt work cheaply; but they know
very accurately the current rate of wages and the condition of the labor
market, and they manage to get as much as any body, or, if they take less
in some cases, it is because they can not do a full day's work. It is a
fact, however, that they do a great deal of work which white men will
not do out here; they do not stand idle, but take the first job that is
offered them. And the result is that they are used all over the State,
more and more, because they chiefly, of the laboring population, will work
steadily and keep their engagements.
Moreover, the admirable organization of the Chinese labor is an
irresistible convenience to the farmer, vineyardist, and other employer.
"How do you arrange to get your Chinese?" I asked a man in the country who
was employing more than a hundred in several gangs. He replied: "I have
only to go or send to a Chinese employment office in San Francisco, and
say that I need so many men for such work and at such pay. Directly up
come the men, with a foreman of their own, with whom alone I have to deal.
I tell only him what I want done; I settle with him alone; I complain
to him, and hold him alone responsible. He understands English; and this
system simplifies things amazingly. If I employed white men I should
have to instruct, reprove, watch, and pay each one separately; and of a
hundred, a quarter, at least, would be dropping out day after day for
one cause or another. Moreover, with my Chinese comes up a cook for every
twenty men, whom I pay, and provisions of their own which they buy. Thus I
have nobody to feed and care for. They do it themselves."
This is the reply I have received in half a dozen instances where I made
inquiry of men who employed from twenty-five to two hundred Chinese. Any
one can see that, with such an organization of labor, many things can be
easily done which under our different and looser system a man would not
rashly undertake. So far as I have been able to learn, such a thing as
a gang of Chinese leaving a piece of work they had engaged to do, unless
they were cheated or ill-treated, is unknown. Then they don't drink
whisky. With all this, any one can see that they need not work cheaply.
To a man who wants to get a piece of work done their systematic ways are
worth a good deal of money. In point of fact, they are quick enough to
demand higher wages.
[Illustration: A SAW-MILL PORT ON PUGET SOUND.]
Of the population of Califoraia when the census of 1870 was taken, 49,310
were Chinese, 54,421 were Irish, 29,701 were Germans, and 339,199 were
born in the United States. In an official return from the California State
prison, the number of convicts in 1871, the last year reported, is given
at 880; of whom 477 were native born, 118 were Chinese, 86 were Irish,
29 were German. This gives, of convicts, one in every 635 of the whole
population of the State; one in 711 of the native born; one in 417 of the
Chinese; one in 632 of the Irish born; and one in 1024 of the Germans.
That is to say, of the different nationalities the Germans contribute the
fewest convicts, the native born next, the Irish next, and the Chinese the
greatest number proportionately.
But pray bear in mind the important fact that the Chinese here are almost
entirely grown men; they have no families here, and but a small number of
women, almost all of whom are, moreover, prostitutes.
If, then, you would compare these figures rightly you would have to leave
out of the count the women and children of all the other nationalities;
it would, perhaps, then appear that the Chinese furnish a much smaller
proportion of criminals than the above figures show; and this in spite of
the well-known fact that Dame Justice commonly turns a very cold shoulder
toward a Chinaman. I wonder that the comparison shows so favorably for
It is said that they send money out of the country. I wonder who sends the
most, the Chinaman or the white foreigner? If one could get at the sums
remitted to England, Ireland, and Germany, and those sent to China, I
don't know which would be the greater.
But a Chinese, to whom I mentioned this charge, made me an excellent
answer. He said: "Suppose you work for me; suppose I pay you; what
business I what you do with money? If you work good for me, that all
I care. No business my what you do your pay." Surely he was right; the
Chinaman may send some part of his wages out of the country, though not
much, for he must eat, must be clothed and lodged, must pay railroad and
stage fares, must smoke opium, and usually gamble a little. When all this
is done, the surplus of a Chinaman's wages is not great. But suppose he
sent off all his pay; he does not and can not send off the work he has
done for it, the ditches he has dug, the levees he has made, the meals he
has cooked, and the clothes he has washed and ironed, the harvest he has
helped to sow and gather, and the vegetables he has raised; the cigars,
and shoes, blankets, gloves, slippers, and other things he has made. These
remain to enrich the country, to make abundance where, but for his help,
there would be scarcity, or importation from other States or countries.
But lately it is asserted that the Chinese have brought or will bring
the leprosy hither. This is a genuine cry of anguish and terror from the
Hoodlums; for, bear in mind that, according to the best medical opinion
in the Sandwich Islands, where this disease is most frequent and has been
most thoroughly studied, it is communicated only by cohabitation or the
most intimate association. If you ask a policeman to pilot you through
the Chinese quarter of San Francisco between eight and eleven o'clock any
night, you will see the creatures who make this outcry. They are Hoodlums,
gangs of whom per ambulate the worst alleys, and pass in and out of the
I was curious to know something about the "Chinese Companies" of which
one frequently hears here, and which exercise important powers over their
countrymen all over the State. What follows concerning these organizations
I derived from conversation with several Chinese who speak English, and
with a missionary who labors among them.
There are six of these companies, calling themselves "Yong Wong,"
"Howk Wah," "Sam Yup," "Yen Wah," "Kong Chow," and "Yong Woh." They
are benevolent societies; each looks after the people who come from the
province or district for whose behalf it is formed.
When a ship comes into port with Chinese, the agents of the companies
board it, and each takes the names of those who belong to his province.
These then come into the charge of their proper company. That lodges, and,
if necessary, feeds them; as quickly as possible secures them employment;
and, if they are to go to a distant point, lends them the needed
passage-money. The company also cares for the sick, if they are friendless
and without means; and it sends home the bones of those who die here.
[Illustration: CAPE HORN, COLUMBIA RIVER.]
Moreover, it settles all disputes between Chinese, levies fines upon
offenders; and when a Chinaman wishes to return home, his company examines
his accounts, and obliges him to pay his just debts here before leaving.
The means to do all this are obtained by the voluntary contributions of
the members, who are all who land at San Francisco from the province which
a company represents.
In the Canton company, "Sam Yup," I was told that the members pay seven
dollars each, which sum is paid at any time, but always before they go
"Suppose a man does not pay?" I asked a Chinese who speaks English very
well. He replied, "Then the company loses it; but all who can, pay. Very
seldom any one refuses."
"Suppose," said I, "a Chinaman refuses to respect the company's decision,
in case of a quarrel?" He replied, "They never refuse. It is their own
company. They are all members."
Naturally there are sometimes losses and a deficit in the treasury. This
is made up by levying an additional contribution.
"Do the companies advance money to bring over Chinese?" "No," was the
reply, "the company has no money; it is not a business association,
but only for mutual aid among the Chinese here." Nor does it act as
an employment office, for this is a separate and very well organized
business. It sends home the bones of dead men, and this costs fifteen
dollars; and wherever the deceased leaves property or money, or the
relatives are able to pay, the company exacts this sum.
It is evident that the Chinese in California keep up a very active
correspondence with San Francisco as well as with China. They "keep
the run" of their people very carefully; and the poorer class, who have
probably gone into debt at home for money to get over here, seem to pay
their debts with great honesty out of their earnings. It is clear to me
that the poorer Chinese command far greater credit among their countrymen
than our laboring class usually receives, and this speaks well for their
I do not mean to hold up the Chinaman as an entirely admirable creature.
He has many excellent traits, and we might learn several profitable
lessons from him in the art of organizing labor, and in other matters. But
he has grave vices; he does commonly, and without shame, many things which
we hold to be wrong and disreputable; and, altogether, it might have been
well could we have kept him out.
The extent to which they carry organization and administration is
something quite curious. For instance, there are not only organized bands
of laborers, submitting themselves to the control and management of a
foreman; benevolent societies, administering charity and, to a large
extent, justice; employment societies, which make advances to gangs and
individuals all over the State; but there is in San Francisco a society or
organization for the importation of prostitutes from China. The existence
of this organization was not suspected until during last summer some of
its victims appealed to a city missionary to save them from a life of
vice. Thereupon suit was brought by Chinese in the courts for money which
they claimed these women owed; and, on an examination, I was told, no
attempt was made to conceal the fact that a regularly formed commercial
organization was engaged in either buying or kidnapping young women in
China, bringing them to San Francisco, there furnishing them clothing and
habitations, and receiving from them a share of the money they gained by
But the Chinaman is here; treaty laws made by our Government with his give
him the right to come here, and to live here securely. And this is to be
said, that if we could to-day expel the Chinese from California, more than
half the capital now invested there would be idle or leave the State, many
of the most important industries would entirely stop, and the prosperity
of California would receive a blow from which it would not recover for
twenty years. They are, as a class, peaceable, patient, ingenious, and
industrious. That they deprive any white man of work is absurd, in a State
which has scarcely half a million of people, and which can support ten
millions, and needs at least three millions to develop fairly its abundant
natural wealth; and no matter what he is, or what the effect of his
presence might be, it is shameful that he should be meanly maltreated and
persecuted among a people who boast themselves Christian and claim to be
THE MENDOCINO COAST AND CLEAR LAKE--GENERAL VIEW.
Some of the most picturesque country in California lies on or near
the coast north of San Francisco. The coast counties, Marin, Sonoma,
Mendocino, Humboldt, Klamath, and Del Norte, are the least visited by
strangers, and yet with Napa, Lake, and Trinity, they make up a region
which contains a very great deal of wild and fine scenery, and which
abounds with game, and shows to the traveler many varieties of life and
several of the peculiar industries of California.
Those who have passed through the lovely Napa Valley, by way of Calistoga,
to the Geysers, or who have visited the same place by way of Healdsburg
and the pretty Russian River Valley, have no more than a faint idea of
what a tourist may see and enjoy who will devote two weeks to a journey
along the sea-coast of Marin and Mendocino counties, returning by way of
Clear Lake--a fine sheet of water, whose borders contain some remarkable
The northern coast counties are made up largely of mountains, but
imbosomed in these lie many charming little, and several quite spacious,
valleys, in which you are surprised to find a multitude of farmers living,
isolated from the world, that life of careless and easy prosperity which
is the lot of farmers in the fat valleys of California.
In such a journey the traveler will see the famous redwood forests of this
State, whose trees are unequaled in size except by the gigantic sequoias;
he will see those dairy-farms of Marin County whose butter supplies not
only the Western coast, but is sent East, and competes in the markets of
New York and Boston with the product of Eastern dairies, while, sealed
hermetically in glass jars, it is transported to the most distant military
posts, and used on long sea-voyages, keeping sweet in any climate for at
least a year; he will see, in Mendocino County, one of the most remarkable
coasts in the world, eaten by the ocean into the most singular and
fantastic shapes; and on this coast saw-mills and logging camps, where
the immense redwood forests are reduced to useful lumber with a prodigious
waste of wood.
He will see, besides the larger Napa, Petaluma, Bereyessa, and Russian
River valleys, which are already connected by railroad with San Francisco,
a number of quiet, sunny little vales, some of them undiscoverable on any
but the most recent maps, nestled among the mountains, unconnected as
yet with the world either by railroad or telegraph, but fertile, rich in
cattle, sheep, and grain, where live a people peculiarly Californian in
their habits, language, and customs, great horsemen, famous rifle-shots,
keen fishermen, for the mountains abound in deer and bear, and the streams
are alive with trout.
He may see an Indian reservation--one of the most curious examples of
mismanaged philanthropy which our Government can show. And finally, the
traveler will come to, and, if he is wise, spend some days on, Clear
Lake--a strikingly lovely piece of water, which would be famous if it were
For such a journey one needs a heavy pair of colored blankets and an
overcoat rolled up together, and a leather bag or valise to contain the
necessary change of clothing. A couple of rough crash towels and a piece
of soap also should be put into the bag; for you may want to camp out, and
you may not always find any but the public towel at the inn where you dine
or sleep. Traveling in spring, summer, or fall, you need no umbrella or
other protection against rain, and may confidently reckon on uninterrupted
The coast is always cool. The interior valleys are warm, and during the
summer quite hot, and yet the dry heat does not exhaust or distress one,
and cool nights refresh you. In the valleys and on much-traveled roads
there is a good deal of dust, but it is, as they say, "clean dirt," and
there is water enough in the country to wash it off. You need not ride on
horseback unless you penetrate into Humboldt County, which has as yet
but few miles of wagon-road. In Mendocino, Lake, and Marin, the roads
are excellent, and either a public stage, or, what is pleasanter and but
little dearer, a private team, with a driver familiar with the country,
is always obtainable. In such a journey one element of pleasure is its
somewhat hap-hazard nature. You do not travel over beaten ground, and on
routes laid out for you; you do not know beforehand what you are to see,
nor even how you are to see it; you may sleep in a house to-day, in the
woods to-morrow, and in a sail-boat the day after; you dine one day in
a logging camp, and another in a farm-house. With the barometer at "set
fair," and in a country where every body is civil and obliging, and where
all you see is novel to an Eastern person, the sense of adventure adds a
keen zest to a journey which is in itself not only amusing and healthful,
[Illustration: WOOD-CHOPPER AT WORK.]
Marin County, which lies across the bay from San Francisco, and of which
the pretty village of San Rafael is the county town, contains the most
productive dairy-farms in the State. When one has long read of California
as a dry State, he wonders to find that it produces butter at all; and
still more to discover that the dairy business is extensive and profitable
enough--with butter at thirty-five cents a pound at the dairy--to warrant
the employment of several millions of capital, and to enable the dairy-men
to send their product to New York and Boston for sale.
For the coast journey the best route, because it shows you much fine
scenery on your way, is by way of Soucelito, which is reached by a ferry
from San Francisco. From Soucelito either a stage or a private conveyance
carries you to Olema, whence you should visit Point Reyes, one of the most
rugged capes on the coast, where a light-house and fog-signal are placed
to warn and guide mariners. It is a wild spot, often enveloped in fogs,
and where it blows at least half a gale of wind three hundred days in
Returning from Point Reyes to Olema, your road bears you past Tomales Bay,
and back to the coast of Mendocino County; and by the time you reach the
mouth of Russian River you are in the saw-mill country. Here the road runs
for the most part close to the coast, and gives you a long succession
of wild and strange views. You pass Point Arena, where is another
light-house; and finally land at Mendocino City.
Before the stage sets you down at Mendocino, or "Big River," you will have
noticed that the coast-line is broken at frequent intervals by the mouths
of small streams, and at the available points at the mouths of these
streams saw-mills are placed. This continues up the coast, wherever a
river-mouth offers the slightest shelter to vessels loading; for the
redwood forests line the coast up to and beyond Humboldt Bay.
When you leave the coast for the interior, you ride through mile after
mile of redwood forest. Unlike the firs of Oregon and Puget Sound, this
tree does not occupy the whole land. It rears its tall head from a jungle
of laurel, madrone, oak, and other trees; and I doubt if so many as fifty
large redwoods often stand upon a single acre. I was told that an average
tree would turn out about fifteen thousand feet of lumber, and thus even
thirty such trees to the acre would yield nearly half a million feet.
The topography of California, like its climate, has decided features.
As there are but two seasons, so there are apt to be sharply-drawn
differences in natural features, and you descend from what appears to you
an interminable mass of mountains suddenly into a plain, and pass from
deep forests shading the mountain road at once into a prairie valley,
which nature made ready to the farmer's hands, taking care even to
beautify it for him with stately and umbrageous oaks. There are a number
of such valleys on the way which I took from the coast at Mendocino City
to the Nome Cult Indian Reservation, in Round Valley. The principal of
these, Little Lake, Potter, and Eden valleys, contain from five to twelve
thousand acres; but there are a number of smaller vales, little gems, big
enough for one or two farmers, fertile and easily cultivated.
A good many Missourians and other Southern people have settled in this
part of the State. The better class of these make good farmers; but the
person called "Pike" in this State has here bloomed out until, at times,
he becomes, as a Californian said to me about an earthquake, "a little
The Pike in Mendocino County regards himself as a laboring-man, and in
that capacity he has undertaken to drive out the Indians, just as a still
lower class in San Francisco has undertaken to drive out the laboring
Chinese. These Little Lake and Potter Valley Pikes were ruined by Indian
cheap labor; so they got up a mob and expelled the Indians, and the result
is that the work which these poor people formerly performed is now left
As for the Indians, they are gathered at the Round Valley Reservation to
the number of about twelve hundred, where they stand an excellent chance
to lose such habits of industry and thrift as they had learned while
supporting themselves. At least half the men on the reservation, the
superintendent told me, are competent farmers, and many of the women are
excellent and competent house-servants. No one disputes that while they
supported themselves by useful industry in the valleys where were their
homes they were peaceable and harmless, and that the whites stood in no
danger from them. Why, then, should the United States Government forcibly
make paupers of them? Why should this class of Indians be compelled to
live on reservations?
Under the best management which we have ever had in the Indian Bureau--let
us say under its present management--a reservation containing tame or
peaceable Indians is only a pauper asylum and prison combined, a nuisance
to the respectable farmers, whom it deprives of useful and necessary
laborers, an injury to the morals of the community in whose midst it is
placed, an injury to the Indian, whom it demoralizes, and a benefit only
to the members of the Indian ring.
Round Valley is occupied in part by the Nome Cult Reservation, and in part
by farmers and graziers. In the middle of the valley stands Covelo, one
of the roughest little villages I have seen in California, the
gathering-place for a rude population, which inhabits not only the valley,
but the mountains within fifty miles around, and which rides into Covelo
on mustang ponies whenever it gets out of whisky at home or wants a spree.
The bar-rooms of Covelo sell more strong drink in a day than any I have
ever seen elsewhere; and the sheep-herder, the vaquero, the hunter, and
the wandering rough, descending from their lonely mountain camps, make
up as rude a crowd as one could find even in Nevada. Being almost without
exception Americans, they are not quarrelsome in their cups. I was told,
indeed, by an old resident, that shooting was formerly common, but it
has gone out of fashion, mainly, perhaps, because most of the men are
excellent shots, and the amusement was dangerous. At any rate, I saw not a
single fight or disturbance, though I spent the Fourth of July at Covelo;
and it was, on the whole, a surprisingly well-conducted crowd, in spite
of a document which I picked up there, and whose directions were but too
faithfully observed by a large majority of the transient population. This
was called a "toddy time-table," and I transcribe it here from a neat
gilt-edged card for the warning and instruction of Eastern topers.
6 A.M. Eye-opener. 3 P.M. Cobbler.
7 " Appetizer. 4 " Social Drink.
8 " Digester. 5 " Invigorator.
9 " Big Reposer. 6 " Solid Straight.
10 " Refresher. 7 " Chit-chat.
11 " Stimulant. 8 " Fancy Smile.
12 " Ante-lunch. 9 " Entire Acte _(sic)_.
1 P.M. Settler. 10 " Sparkler.
2 " A la Smythe. 11 " Rouser.
12 P.M. Night-cap.
My impression is that this time-table was not made for the latitude of
Covelo, for they began to drink much earlier than 6 A.M. at the bar, near
which I slept, and they left off later than midnight. It would be unjust
for me not to add that, for the amount of liquor consumed, it was the
soberest and the best-natured crowd I ever saw. I would like to write
"respectable" also, but it would be ridiculous to apply that term to
men whose every word almost is an oath, and whose language in many cases
corresponds too accurately with their clothes and persons.
From Round Valley there is a "good enough" horseback trail, as they call
it, over a steep mountain into the Sacramento Valley; but a pleasanter
journey, and one, besides, having more novelty, is by way of Potter
Valley to Lakeport, on Clear Lake. The road is excellent; the scenery is
peculiarly Californian. Potter Valley is one of the richest and also
one of the prettiest of the minor valleys of this State, and your way
to Lakeport carries you along the shores of two pleasant mountain
lakelets--the Blue Lakes, which are probably ancient craters.
Two days' easy driving, stopping overnight in Potter Valley, brings you
to Lakeport, the capital of Lake County, and the only town I have seen in
California where dogs in the square worry strangers as they are entering
the place. As the only hotel in the town occupies one corner of this
square, and as in Californian fashion the loungers usually sit in the
evening on the sidewalk before the hotel, the combined attack of these
dogs occurs in their view, and perhaps affords them a pleasing and
beneficial excitement. The placid and impartial manner with which the
landlord himself regards the contest between the stranger and the
town dogs will lead you to doubt whether his house is not too full to
accommodate another guest, and whether he is not benevolently letting
the dogs spare him the pain of refusing you a night's lodging; but it is
gratifying to be assured, when you at last reach the door, that the dogs
"scarcely ever bite any body."
Clear Lake is a large and picturesque sheet of water, twenty-five miles
long by about seven wide, surrounded by mountains, which in many places
rise from the water's edge. At Lakeport you can hire a boat at a very
reasonable price, and I advise the traveler to take his blankets on board,
and make this boat his home for two or three days. He will get food
at different farm-houses on the shore; and as there are substantial,
good-sized sail-boats, he can sleep on board very enjoyably. Aside from
its fine scenery, and one or two good specimens of small Californian
farms, the valley is remarkable for two borax lakes and a considerable
deposit of sulphur, all of which lie close to the shore.
At one of the farm-houses, whose owner, a Pennsylvanian, has made himself
a most beautiful place in a little valley hidden by the mountains which
butt on the lake, I saw the culture of silk going on in that way in
which only, as I believe, it can be made successful in California. He
had planted about twenty-five hundred mulberry-trees, built himself an
inexpensive but quite sufficient little cocoonery, bought an ounce and
a half of eggs for fifteen dollars, and when I visited him had already
a considerable quantity of cocoons, and had several thousand worms then
It was his first attempt; he had never seen a cocoonery, but had read all
the books he could buy about the management of the silk-worm; and, as
his grain harvest was over, he found in the slight labor attending the
management of these worms a source of interest and delight which was alone
worth the cost of his experiment. But he is successful besides; and his
wife expressed great delight at the new employment her husband had found,
which, as she said, had kept him close at home for about two months.
She remarked that all wives ought to favor the silk culture for their
husbands; but the old man added that some husbands might recommend it to
Certainly I had no idea how slight and pleasant is the labor attending
this industry up to the point of getting cocoons. If, however, you mean to
raise eggs, the work is less pleasant.
This farmer, Mr. Alter, had chosen his field of operations with
considerable shrewdness. He planted his mulberry-trees on a dry side-hill,
and found that it did not hurt his worms to feed to them, under this
condition, even leaves from the little shrubs growing in his nursery rows.
His cocoonery was sheltered from rude winds by a hill and a wood, and thus
the temperature was very equal. He had no stove in his house, the shelves
were quite rough, and the whole management might have been called careless
if it were not successful.
I believe that the country about Clear Lake and in the Napa and Sonoma
valleys will be found very favorable to the culture of the silk-worm;
but I believe also that this industry will not succeed except where it is
carried on by farmers and their families in a small way.
[Illustration: MOUNT HOOD, OREGON.]
Boat life on Clear Lake is as delightful an experience as a traveler or
lounger can get anywhere. The lake is placid; there is usually breeze
enough to sail about; and you need not fear storms or rainy weather in the
dry season. If it should fall calm, and you do not wish to be delayed, you
can always hire an Indian to row the boat, and there is sufficient to
see on the lake to pleasantly detain a tourist several days, besides fine
fishing and hunting in the season, and lovely views all the time.
Going to the Sulphur Banks on a calm morning, I hired an Indian from a
rancheria upon Mr. Alter's farm to row for us, and my Indian proved to be
a prize. His name was Napoleon, and he was a philosopher. Like his greater
namesake, he had had two wives. Of the first one he reported that "Jim
catchee him," by which I was to understand that he had tired of her,
and had sold her to "Jim;" and he had now taken number two, a moderately
pretty Digger girl, of whom he seemed to be uncommonly fond. As he rowed
he began to speak of his former life, when he had served a white farmer.
"Him die now," said Napoleon; adding, in a musing tone, "he very good man,
plenty money; give Injun money all time. Him very good white man, that
man; plenty money all a time."
Napoleon dwelt upon the wealth of his favorite white man so persistently
that presently it occurred to me to inquire a little further.
"Suppose a white man had no money," said I, "what sort of a man would you
My philosopher's countenance took on a fine expression of contempt.
"Suppose white man no got money?" he asked. "Eh! suppose he no got
money--him dam fool!" And Napoleon glared upon us, his passengers, as
though he wondered if either of us would venture to contradict so plain a
The sulphur bank is a remarkable deposit of decomposed volcanic rock and
ashes, containing so large a quantity of sulphur that I am told that at
the refining-works, which lie on the bank of the lake, the mass yields
eighty per cent. of pure sulphur. The works were not in operation when I
Several large hot springs burst out from the bank, and gas and steam
escape with some violence from numerous fissures. The deposit looks very
much like a similar one on the edge of the Kilauea crater, on the island
of Hawaii, but is, I should think, richer in sulphur. Near the sulphur
bank, on the edge of the lake, is a hot borate spring, which is supposed
to yield at times three hundred gallons per minute, and which Professor
Whitney, the State Geologist, declares remarkable for the extraordinary
amount of ammoniacal salts its waters contain--more than any natural
spring water that has ever been analyzed.
There is abundant evidence of volcanic action in all the country about
Clear Lake. A dozen miles from Lakeport, not far from the shore of the
lake, the whole mountain side along which the stage-road runs is covered
for several miles with splinters and fragments of obsidian or volcanic
glass, so that it looks as though millions of bottles had been broken
there in some prodigious revelry; and where the road cuts into the side
of the mountain you see the osidian lying in huge masses and in boulders.
Joining this, and at one point interrupting it, is a tract of volcanic
ashes stratified, and the strata thrown up vertically in some places, as
though after the volcano had flung out the ashes there had come a terrific
upheaval of the earth.
The two borax lakes lie also near the shore of Clear Lake; the largest
one, which is not now worked, has an area of about three hundred acres.
Little Borax Lake covers only about thirty acres, and this is now worked.
The efflorescing matter is composed of carbonate of soda, chloride of
sodium, and biborate of soda. The object of the works is, of course, to
separate the borax, and this is accomplished by crystallizing the borax,
which, being the least soluble of the salts, is the first to crystallize.
The bottom of the lake was dry when I was there; it was covered all over
with a white crust, which workmen scrape up and carry to the works, where
it is treated very successfully. My nose was offended by the fetid stench
which came from the earth when it was first put in the vats with hot
water; and I was told by the foreman of the works that this arose from
the immense number of flies and other insects which fly upon the lake
and perish in it. Chinese are employed as laborers here, and give great
satisfaction; and about eight days are required to complete the operation
of extracting the borax in crystals.
Earth containing biborate of lime is brought to this place all the way
from Wadsworth, in the State of Nevada--a very great distance, with
several transhipments--to be reduced at these works; and it seems that
this can be more cheaply done here than there, where they have neither
wood for the fires nor soda for the operation.
Clear Lake is but twelve hours distant from San Francisco; the journey
thither is full of interest, and the lake itself, with the natural wonders
on its shores, is one of the most interesting and enjoyable spots in
California to a tourist who wishes to breathe fresh mountain air and enjoy
some days of free, open-air life.
The visitor to Clear Lake should go by way of the Napa Valley, taking
stage for Lakeport at Calistoga, and return by way of the Russian River
Valley, taking the railroad at Cloverdale. Thus he will see on his journey
two of the richest and most fertile of the minor valleys of California,
both abounding in fruit and vines as well as in grain.
As there are two sides to Broadway, so there are two sides to the Bay of
San Francisco. On the one side lies the fine and highly-cultivated Santa
Clara Valley, filling up fast with costly residences and carefully-kept
country places. Opposite, on the other side of the bay, lies the Russian
River Valley, as beautiful naturally as that of the Santa Clara, and
of which Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, and Cloverdale are the chief
towns. It is a considerable plain, bounded by fine hills and distant
mountains, which open up, as you pass by on the railroad, numerous
pretty reaches of subsidiary vales, where farmers live protected by the
projecting hills from all harsh sea-breezes, and where frost is seldom if
As you ascend the valley, the madrone, one of the most striking trees
of California, becomes abundant and of larger growth, and its dark-green
foliage and bright cinnamon-colored bark ornament the landscape. The
laurel, too, or California bay-tree, grows thriftily among the hills, and
the plain and foot-hills are dotted with oak and redwood. This valley is
as yet somewhat thinly peopled, but it has the promise of a growth which
will make it the equal some day of the Santa Clara, and the superior,
perhaps, of the Napa Valley.
[Illustration: INDIANS SPEARING SALMON, COLUMBIA RIVER.]
AN INDIAN RESERVATION.
A part of Round Valley, in Mendocino County, is set apart and used for an
Indian reservation; and, under the present policy of the Government, an
attempt has been made to gather and keep all the Indians of the northern
coast of California upon this reserve. In point of fact they are not
nearly all there. One thousand and eighty-one men, women, and children,
according to a census recently taken, or nearly one thousand two hundred
according to the Rev. Mr. Burchard, the Indian agent, are actually within
the reservation lines; and about four hundred are absent, at work for
themselves or for white men, but have the right to come in at any time to
be clothed and fed.
Round Valley is a plain surrounded by high mountains. The plain is mostly
excellent agricultural land; the mountain slopes are valuable for grazing.
The reservation contains, it is said, sixty thousand acres; but only a
small part of this is plain, and the reservation occupies about one-third
or perhaps only a quarter of the whole valley. The remainder is held by
white farmers; and there is a rude little town, Covelo, in the centre of
the valley, about a mile and a half from the reservation house.
The reservation has a mill, store-houses, the houses of the agent and his
subordinates, two school-houses, and the huts of the Indians; the latter
are either rough board one-roomed shanties, or mere wigwams built by the
owners of brush, with peculiar low entrances, into which you must creep on
all-fours. These they prefer for summer use, and I found that a number
of the board-shanties were empty and the doors nailed up, their owners
sensibly preferring to live in brush houses during the hot weather.
When I arrived at the agency the Indians were receiving their ration of
flour, and, as they gathered in a great court-yard, I had an opportunity
to examine them. They are short, dark-skinned, generally ugly, stout, and
were dressed in various styles, but always in such clothing as they get
from the Government; not in their native costume. Among several hundred
women I saw not one even tolerably comely or conspicuously clean or neat;
but I saw several men very well dressed. They carried off their rations
in baskets which they make, and which are water-tight. The agent or
superintendent, Mr. Burchard, very obligingly showed me through the camp,
and answered my questions, and what follows of information I gained in
The Indian shanties contain a fire-place, a bed-place, and sometimes
a table; once I saw a small store-room; and on the walls hung dresses,
shoes, fishing-nets, and other property of the occupants. The agent
pointed out to me that in most of the houses there were bags of flour
and meal stowed away, and remarked, "Whatever they may say against the
President, no one can say that he does not make the Indians comfortable;"
and it is true that I saw everywhere in the camp the evidence of abundant
supplies of food and sufficient clothing in the possession of the Indians.
The superintendent said to me, "They have plenty of every thing; they have
often several bags of flour in the house at once; no man can say they are
The earthen floors of the houses were usually cleanly swept; there are
wells at which the people get water; the school-houses are well furnished,
and as good as the average country-school, and the Indians seem to suffer
no hardship of the merely physical kind. The agent, Mr. Burchard, seems to
be a genuinely kind person, simple-hearted, and, I should think, honest;
and his assistants, whom I saw, struck me as respectable men. Indeed,
several persons in the valley, unconnected with the reservation, told me
that under Mr. Burchard's rule the Indians were much better treated than
by his predecessor. I suppose, therefore, that I saw one of the most
favorable examples of the reservation system.
In what follows, then, I criticise the reservation system, so far, at
least, as it applies to the Indians of California, and not the management
at Round Valley; and I say that it is a piece of cruel and stupid
mismanagement and waste for which there is no excuse except in the
ignorance of the President who continues it.
Most of the Indians of these northern coast counties, as well as those of
Southern California, have for some years been a valuable laboring force
for the farmers. They were employed to clear land, to make hay, and
in many other avocations about the farm; they lived usually in little
rancherias, or collections of huts, near the farm-houses; the women washed
and did chores for the whites about the houses; and there has been, for at
least half a dozen years, no pretense even that their presence among the
whites was dangerous to these. Mr. Burchard told me himself that more than
half the Indian men at Round Valley were competent farmers, and that
the Indian women were used at the agency houses as servants, and made
excellent and competent house-help.
Scattered through Potter, Little Lake, Ukiah, and other valleys, they were
earning their living, and a number of farmers of that region have assured
me that it was a serious disadvantage to them to lose the help of these
Indians. Nor was it even necessary to speak their language in order to
use their labor, for the agent told me that, of the Potter Valley tribe,
nine-tenths speak English; of the Pitt Rivers, four-fifths; of the Little
Lakes, two-thirds; of the Redwoods, three-quarters; of the Concows and
Capellos, two-thirds. The Wylackies and Ukies speak less; they have been,
I believe, longer on the reservation. As I walked through the Indian camp,
English was as often spoken in my hearing as Indian.
The removal of the useful and self-supporting part of the Indian
population to the reservation was brought about by means which are a
disgrace to the United States Government. There is in all this northern
country a class of mean whites, ignorant, easily led to evil, and
extremely jealous of what they imagine to be their rights. Among these
somebody fomented a jealousy of the Indians. It was said that they took
the bread out of white men's mouths, that their labor interfered with
the white men, and so forth. In fact, I suspect that the Indians were
too respectable for these mean whites; and you can easily find people in
California who say that it is to the interest of the Indian Bureau to make
the whites hate the Indians.
The Indians were an industrious and harmless people; even the squaws
worked; the Indian men had learned to take contracts for clearing land,
weeding fields, and so forth; and many of them were so trustworthy that
the farmers made them small advances where it was necessary. They were not
turbulent, and I was surprised to be told that drunkenness was rare among
After secret deliberations among the mean whites, incited by no one knows
who, and headed by the demagogues who are never found wanting when dirty
work is to be done, a petition was sent to the State Superintendent of
Indian Affairs at San Francisco for the removal of the Indians; but the
more decent people immediately prepared and sent up a counter-petition,
stating the whole case. This was in the spring of 1872.
I do not know the State Indian agent, but I am told that he hesitated, did
not act, and, in May of the same year, a mob, without authority from him
or from any body else, without notice to the Indians, and without even
giving these poor creatures time to gather up their household goods or to
arrange their little affairs, drove them out of their houses, and sixty
miles, over a cruel road, to the reservation.
[Illustration: CHISTOOK WOMAN AND CHILD.]
Against this act of lawless violence toward peaceable and self-supporting
men and women, who are, I notice, officially called "the nation's
unfortunate wards," the proper officer of the United States Government,
the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, did not protest, and for it no one
has ever been punished.
But this was not all. The Indians being thus driven out, a meeting was
called, at which it was announced that if they dared to return they would
be killed; and, in fact, three unfortunates, who ventured back after some
months to see their old homes, were shot down in cold blood; and, though
the men are known who did this, for it no one has ever been punished.
Why should they be? The mob was only carrying out the prevailing "Indian
policy," and the United States Government looked on with its hands folded.
It happens that the Indians of these little valleys are a mild race, not
prone to war. When the white settlers first came to this region they lived
unmolested by the Indians, who were numerous then, and might easily have
"wiped out," to use a California phrase, the intruding white men. It
happens that the Indians of the interior are braver and more warlike; and,
accordingly, among them there were forty-five resolute Modocs, unwilling
to be driven to a reservation, defying the United States for half a year.
But from what I have written one can see how the Modoc war came about;
for it arose from an attempt to force Captain Jack on to the Klamath
Reservation--an attempt made, not by United States troops, as it ought
to have been if it was to be done, but in their absence, and by men who
purposely and carefully kept the military ignorant of what they intended
to do; for there exists the utmost jealousy on the part of the Indian
agents, of the War Department and the military authorities; and I repeat
that the removal of the Modocs was planned and attempted to be carried
out by the Indian Bureau officers, they keeping the military in careful
ignorance of their designs.
I do not say too much when I say that if General Schofield had been
informed and consulted beforehand, there would have been no Modoc war, and
General Canby and Mr. Thomas might have been alive to-day.
Accordingly, these "unfortunate wards of the nation" are driven on the
reservation. If their agent happens to be honest and kindly, like Mr.
Burchard, they get enough to eat and to wear. If he is not, they do not
fare quite so well. Captain Jack said he was "tired of eating horse-meat."
But if you are a guardian, and have a ward, you are not satisfied if your
ward, presumedly an ignorant person in a state of pupilage, merely has
enough to eat and to wear. You endeavor to form his manners and morals.
Well, the Indian camp at Round Valley is in a deplorable state of
disorder. No attempt is made to teach our wards to be clean or orderly,
or to form in them those habits which might elevate, at least, their
children. The plain around the shanties is full of litter, and overgrown
with dog-fennel. As Mr. Burchard, the superintendent, walked about with
me, half-grown boys sat on the grass, and even on the school-house steps,
gambling with cards for tobacco, and they had not been taught manners
enough to rise or move aside at the superintendent's approach. As we
sat in the school-house, one, two, three Indian men came in to prefer
a request, but not one of them took off his hat. We entered a cabin and
found a big he-Indian lying on his bed. "Are you sick?" inquired Mr.
Burchard, and the lazy hound, without offering to rise, muttered "No; me
The agent, in reply to my questions, said that they gambled a good deal
for money and beads during the week, but he had forbidden it on Sundays;
and he would not allow them to gamble away their clothing, as they
There are about eighty scholars on the school-list, and about fifty attend
school. Was there any compulsion used? I asked, and he said No. Now surely
here, if anywhere, one might begin with a compulsory school-law.
Did he attempt to regulate the conduct of the growing boys and girls? No.
Do the Indians marry on the reservation? No. One chief has two wives; men
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