Northern California, Oregon, and the Sandwich Islands
Part 4 out of 6
leave their wives, or change them as they please.
What if children are born irregularly? Well, the reservation feeds and
supports all who are on it. Nobody suffers.
Are the women often diseased? Yes, nearly all of them.
Have you a hospital, or do you attempt to isolate those who are diseased?
No; the families all take care of their sick. The doctor visits them in
their shanties. (Bear in mind this reservation was established, and has
had Indians on it since 1860.)
Do the Indians have to ask permission to go to the town? No; they go when
Is there much drunkenness? No; singularly little.
Do you attempt to make them rise at any specified hour in the morning? No.
Have you a list or roster of the Indians who belong on the reservation?
How many Indians own horses? I do not know.
On Sunday there is preaching; the audience varies; and those who do not
come to church--where the preaching is in English--play shinny.
Is not all this deplorable? Here is a company of ignorant and
semi-barbarous people, forcibly gathered together by the United States
Government (with the help of a mob), under the pretense that they are the
"unfortunate wards of the nation;" and the Government does not require the
officers it sets over them to control them in any single direction where
a conscientious guardian would feel bound to control his ward. How can
habits of decency, energy, order, thrift, virtue, grow up--nay, how can
they continue, if in the beginning they existed, with such management?
Captain Jack and his forty-five Modocs were at least brave and energetic
men. Can any one blame them, if they were bored to desperation by such a
life as this, and preferred death to remaining on the reservation?
Nor is this all. Of the two thousand acres of arable land on the
reservation, about five hundred are kept for grazing, and one thousand
acres are in actual cultivation this year--seven hundred in grain and
hay, one hundred and ninety-five in corn, and one hundred and nine
in vegetables. A farmer, assistant-farmer, and gardener manage this
considerable piece of land. When they need laborers they detail such men
or women as they require, and these go out to work. They seldom refuse;
if they do, they are sent to the military post, where they are made to saw
wood. Not one of the cabins has about it a garden spot; all cultivation
is in common; and thus the Indian is deprived of the main incentive to
industry and thrift--the possession of the actual fruits of his own toil;
and, unless he were a deep-thinking philosopher, who had studied out for
himself the problems of socialism, he must, in the nature of things, be
made a confirmed pauper and shirk by such a system, in which he sees no
direct reward for his toil, and neither receives wages nor consciously
eats that which his own hands have planted.
In the whole system of management, as I have described it, you will
see that there is no reward for, or incentive to, excellence; it is all
debauching and demoralizing; it is a disgrace to the Government, which
consents to maintain at the public cost what is, in fact, nothing else but
a pauper shop and house of prostitution.
And what is true of this reservation is equally true of that on the Tule
River, in Southern California, which I saw in 1872. In both, to sum up the
story, the Government has deprived the farmers of an important laboring
force by creating a pauper asylum, called a reservation; and, having
thus injured the community, it further injures the Indian by a system of
treatment which ingeniously takes away every incentive to better living,
and abstains from controlling him on those very points wherein an upright
guardian would most rigidly and faithfully control and guide his ward.
To force a population of laboring and peaceable Indians on a reservation
is a monstrous blunder. For wild and predatory or unsettled Indians, like
the Apaches, or many tribes of the plains, the reservation is doubtless
the best place; but even then the Government, acting as guardian, ought to
control and train its wards; it ought to treat them like children, or at
least like beasts; it ought not only to feed and clothe them, but also
to teach them, and enforce upon them order, neatness, good manners, and
habits of discipline and steady labor. This seems plain enough, but it
will never be done by "Indian agents," selected from civil life, be these
ministers or laymen.
An army officer, methodical, orderly, and having the habit of command,
is the proper person for superintendent of a reservation; for drill
and discipline, regular hours, regular duties, respectful manners,
cleanliness, method--these are the elements of civilization that are
needed, and which an army officer knows how to impress without harshness,
because they are the essence of his own life. But under our present Indian
policy the army is the mere servant of the Indian agent. If it were not
for the small military force at Camp Wright, Mr. Burchard, the agent,
could not keep an Indian on his reservation. But the intelligent,
thoroughly-trained, and highly-educated soldier who commands there
has neither authority nor influence at the reservation. He is a mere
policeman, to whom an unruly Indian is sent for punishment, and who
goes out at the command of the superintendent, a person in every way his
inferior except in authority, to catch Indians when no mob is at hand to
drive them in.
A true and humane Indian policy would be to require all peaceable Indians
to support themselves as individuals and families among the whites, which
would at once abolish the Round Valley and Tule River reservations; to
place all the nomads on reservations, under the control of picked and
intelligent army officers, and to require these to ignore, except for
expediency's sake, all tribal distinctions and the authority of chiefs;
to form every reservation into a military camp, adopting and maintaining
military discipline, though not the drill, of course; to give to every
Indian family an acre of ground around its hut, and require it to
cultivate that, demanding of the male Indians at the same time two or
three days of labor every week in the common fields, or on roads and
other public improvements within the reservation during the season when
no agricultural labor is required; to curb their vices, as a parent would
those of his children; to compel the young to attend schools; to insist
upon a daily morning muster, and a daily inspection of the houses and
grounds; to establish a hospital for the sick; and thus gradually
to introduce the Indian to civilization by the only avenue open to
savages--by military discipline.
Under such a system a reserve like that of Round Valley would not to-day,
after thirteen years of occupation, be a mass of weeds and litter, with
bad roads, poor fences, and an almost impassable corduroy bridge over a
little ditch. On the contrary, in half the time it would be a model of
cleanliness and order; it would have the best roads, the neatest cottages,
the cleanest grounds, the most thorough culture; and when the Indians had
produced this effect, they would not fail to be in love with it.
Nor is it impossible to do all this with Indians. But it needs men used to
command, well educated, and with habits of discipline--the picked men
of the army. At present, an Indian reservation differs from an Indian
rancheria or village only in that it contains more food, more vice, and
more lazy people.
[Illustration: VIEW ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER.]
THE REDWOODS AND THE SAW-MILL COUNTRY OF MENDOCINO.
Some years ago, before there was a wagon-road between Cloverdale and
Mendocino City, or Big River, as it is more commonly called up here on
the northern coast, the mail was carried on horse--or, more usually, on
mule--back; and the mail-rider was caught, on one stormy and dark night,
upon the road, and found himself unable to go farther. In this dilemma
he took refuge, with his mule and the United States mails, in a hollow
redwood, and man and mule lay down comfortably within its shelter. They
had room to spare indeed, as I saw when the stage-driver pointed out the
tree to me and kindly stopped until I examined it.
At a road-side inn I found they had roofed over a hollow stump, and used
it as a capacious store-room.
All these were large trees, of course; but there is no reason to believe
that they were the biggest of their kind; and when you have traveled for
two or three days through the redwood forests of the northern coast of
California you will scarcely be surprised at any story of big trees.
The redwood seems to be found only near the coast of California; it needs
the damp air which comes from the sea and which blows against the mountain
slopes, which the tree loves. The coast, from fifty miles north of San
Francisco to the northern border of Humboldt County, is a dense redwood
forest; it is a mountainous and broken country, and the mountains are cut
at frequent intervals by streams, some but a few miles in length, others
penetrating into the interior by narrow canons forty or fifty miles, and
dividing in their upper waters into several branches.
The man who wondered at the wisdom of Providence in causing great
rivers to flow past large cities would be struck with admiration at
the convenient outflow of these streams; for upon them depends the
accessibility of the redwood forests to the loggers and saw-mill men who
are busily turning these forests into lumber. At the mouth of every stream
is placed a saw-mill; and up these little rivers, many of which would
hardly aspire to the dignity of creeks in Missouri or Mississippi, loggers
are busy chopping down huge trees, sawing them into lengths, and floating
them down to the mills.
The redwood has the color of cedar, but not its fragrance; it is a soft
wood, unfit for ship-building, but easily worked and extraordinarily
durable. It is often used in California for water-pipes, and makes
the best fence posts, for it never rots below ground. Moreover, it is
excellent material for houses. When varnished, it keeps its fine red
color, but without this protection it slowly turns black with exposure to
the air. It is a most useful lumber, and forms a not unimportant part of
the natural wealth of California.
The saw-mills are mostly on so large a scale that about every one grows up
a village or town, which usually contains several saloons or grog-shops,
one or two billiard-rooms, a rude tavern or two, a doctor or two, several
stores, and, in some cases, a church. There are, besides, the houses of
those mill-men who have families, shanties for the bachelors, and usually
one or two houses of greater pretensions, inhabited by the owners or local
Not easily accessible, these little saw-mill ports are rarely visited by
strangers, and the accommodations are somewhat rude; but the people are
kindly, and the country is wonderfully picturesque, and well repays a
The absolute coast is almost barren, by reason of the harsh, strong winds
which prevail during the greater part of the year. The redwood forests
begin a mile or two back from the sea. The climate of this part of the
coast is remarkably equal, cool but not cold, all the year round; they
have fires in the evening in July, and don't shut their doors, except in
a storm, in December. They wear the same clothing all the year round, and
seldom have frost. But when you get out of the reach of the sea, only a
mile back, you find hot weather in July; and in winter they have snow,
quite deep sometimes, in the redwoods.
Where the little saw-mill rivers enter the sea, there is usually a sort
of roadstead--a curve of the shore, not enough to make a harbor, but
sufficient to give anchorage and a lee from the prevailing north-west
wind, which makes it possible, by different devices, to load vessels.
There are rivers in Humboldt County where nature has not provided even
this slight convenience, and there--it being impossible to ship the
lumber--no saw-mills have been established.
Vessels are frequently lost, in spite of all precautions; for, when the
wind changes to south-west, the whole Pacific Ocean rolls into these
roadsteads; and, when a gale is seen approaching, the crews anchor their
ships as securely as they can, and then go ashore. It has happened in
Mendocino harbor, that a schooner has been capsized at her anchorage by a
monstrous sea; and Captain Lansing told me that in the last twenty years
he had seen over a hundred persons drowned in that port alone, in spite of
The waves have cut up the coast in the most fantastic manner. It is
rock-bound, and the rock seems to be of varying hardness, so that the
ocean, trying every square inch every minute of the day for thousands
of years, has eaten out the softer parts, and worked out the strangest
caverns and passages. You scarcely see a headland or projecting point
through which the sea has not forced a passage, whose top exceeds a
little the mark of high tide; and there are caves innumerable, some with
extensive ramifications. I was shown one such cave at Mendocino City, into
which a schooner, drifting from her anchors, was sucked during a heavy
sea. As she broke from her anchors the men hoisted sail, and the vessel
was borne into the cave with all sail set. Her masts were snapped off like
pipe-stems, and the hull was jammed into the great hole in the rock, where
it began to thump with the swell so vehemently that two of the frightened
crew were at once crushed on the deck by the overhanging ceiling of the
cave. Five others hurriedly climbed out over the stern, and there hung on
until ropes were lowered to them by men on the cliff above, who drew them
up safely. It was a narrow escape; and a more terrifying situation than
that of this crew, as they saw their vessel sucked into a cave whose depth
they did not know, can hardly be imagined outside of a hasheesh dream.
The next morning the vessel was so completely broken to pieces that not a
piece the size of a man's arm was ever found of her hull.
[Illustration: LUMBERING IN WASHINGTON TERRITORY--PREPARING LOGS.]
I suppose all saw-mills are pretty much alike; those on this coast not
only saw lumber of different shapes and sizes, but they have also planing
and finishing apparatus attached; and in some the waste lumber is worked
up with a good deal of care and ingenuity. But in many of the mills there
is great waste. It is probably a peculiarity of the saw-mills on this
coast, that they must provide a powerful rip-saw to rip in two the larger
logs before they are small enough for a circular saw to manage. Indeed,
occasionally the huge logs are split with wedges, or blown apart with
gunpowder, in the logging camps, because they are too vast to be floated
down to the mill in one piece. The expedients for loading vessels are
often novel and ingenious. For instance, at Mendocino the lumber is loaded
on cars at the mill, and drawn by steam up a sharp incline, and by horses
off to a point which shelters and affords anchorage for schooners.
This point is, perhaps, one hundred feet above the water-line, and long
wire-rope stages are projected from the top, and suspended by heavy
derricks. The car runs to the edge of the cliff; the schooner anchors
under the shipping stage one hundred feet below, and the lumber is slid
down to her, a man standing at the lower end to check its too rapid
descent with a kind of brake. When a larger vessel is to be loaded, they
slide the lumber into a lighter, and the ship is loaded from her. The
redwood is shipped not only to California ports, but also to China and
South America; and while I was at. Mendocino, a bark lay there loading for
the Navigator Islands.
A large part of the lumbering population consists of bachelors, and for
their accommodation you see numerous shanties erected near the saw-mills
and lumber piles. At Mendocino City there is quite a colony of such
shanties, two long rows, upon a point or cape from which the lumber is
I had the curiosity to enter one of these little snuggeries, which
was unoccupied. It was about ten by twelve feet in area, had a large
fire-place (for fuel is shamefully abundant here), a bunk for sleeping,
with a lamp arranged for reading in bed, a small table, hooks for clothes,
a good board floor, a small window, and a neat little hood over the
door-way, which gave this little hut quite a picturesque effect. There
was, besides, a rough bench and a small table.
It seemed to me that in such a climate as that of Mendocino, where they
wear the same clothes all the year round, have evening fires in July, and
may keep their doors open in January, such a little kennel as this meets
all the real wants of the male of the human race.
This, I suspect, is about as far as man, unaided by woman, would have
carried civilization anywhere. Whatever any of us have over and above such
a snuggery as this we owe to womankind; whatever of comfort or elegance
we possess, woman has given us, or made us give her. I think no wholesome,
right-minded man in the world would ever get beyond such a hut; and I
even suspect that the occupant of the shanty I inspected must have been in
love, and thinking seriously of marriage, else he would never have nailed
the pretty little hood over his door-way. So helpless is man! And yet
there are people who would make of woman only a kind of female man!
As you travel along the coast, the stage-road gives you frequent and
satisfactory views of its curiously distorted and ocean-eaten caves and
rocks. It has a dangerous and terrible aspect, no doubt, to mariners, but
it is most wonderful, viewed from the shore. At every projection you see
that the waves have pierced and mined the rock; if the sea is high, you
will hear it roar in the caverns it has made, and whistle and shriek
wherever it has an outlet above through which the waves may force the air.
The real curiosity of this region is a logging camp. The redwood country
is astonishingly broken; the mountain sides are often almost precipitous;
and on these steep sides the redwood grows tall and straight and big
beyond the belief of an Eastern man. The trees do not occupy the whole
ground, but share it with laurels, dogwood, a worthless kind of oak,
occasionally pine, and smaller wood. It is a kind of jungle; and the
loggers, when they have felled a number of trees, set fire to the brush
in order to clear the ground before they attempt to draw the logs to the
[Illustration: VICTORIA HARBOR, VANCOUVER'S ISLAND.]
A logging camp is an assemblage of rude redwood shanties, gathered about
one larger shanty, which is the cook-house and dining-hall, and where
usually two or three Chinamen are at work over the stove, and setting
the table. The loggers live well; they have excellent bread, meat, beans,
butter, dried apples, cakes, pies, and pickles; in short, I have dined in
A camp is divided into "crews;" a crew is composed of from twenty to
twenty-six men, who keep one team of eight or ten oxen busy hauling the
logs to water.
A "crew" consists of teamsters, choppers, chain-tenders, jack-screw
men (for these logs are too heavy to be moved without such machinery),
swampers, who build the roads over which the logs are hauled, sawyers,
and barkers. A teamster, I was told, receives seventy dollars per month, a
chopper fifty dollars, chain-tenders and jack-screw men the same, swampers
forty-five dollars, sawyers forty dollars, and barkers, who are usually
Indians, one dollar a day and board besides, for all. The pay is not bad,
and as the chances to spend money in a logging camp are not good, many of
the men lay up money, and by-and-by go to farming or go home. They work
twelve hours a day.
A man in Humboldt County got out of one redwood tree lumber enough to make
his house and barn, and to fence in two acres of ground.
A schooner was filled with shingles made from a single tree.
One tree in Mendocino, whose remains were shown to me, made a mile of
railroad ties. Trees fourteen feet in diameter have been frequently found
and cut down; the saw-logs are often split apart with wedges, because the
entire mass is too large to float in the narrow and shallow streams; and I
have even seen them blow a log apart with gunpowder.
A tree four feet in diameter is called undersized in these woods; and so
skillful are the wood-choppers that they can make the largest giant of the
forest fall just where they want it, or, as they say, they "drive a stake
with the tree."
To chop down a redwood-tree, the chopper does not stand on the ground, but
upon a stage sometimes twelve feet above the ground. Like the sequoia,
the redwood has a great bulk near the ground, but contracts somewhat a
few feet above. The chopper wants only the fair round of the tree, and
his stage is composed of two stout staves, shod with a pointed iron at one
end, which is driven into the tree. The outer ends are securely supported;
and on these staves he lays two narrow, tough boards, on which he stands,
and which spring at every blow of his axe. It will give you an idea of the
bulk of these trees, when I tell you that in chopping down the larger ones
two men stand on the stage and chop simultaneously at the same cut, facing
They first cut off the bark, which is from four to ten, and often fifteen
inches thick. This done, they begin what is called the "undercut"--the cut
on that, side toward which the tree is meant to fall; and when they have
made a little progress, they, by an ingenious and simple contrivance,
fix upon the proper direction of the cut, so as to make the tree fall
accurately where they want it. This is necessary, on account of the great
length and weight of the trees, and the roughness of the ground, by reason
of which a tree carelessly felled may in its fall break and split
into pieces, so as to make it entirely worthless. This happens not
unfrequently, in spite of every care.
So skillful are they in giving to the tree its proper direction that they
are able to set a post or stake in the ground a hundred feet or more from
the root of the tree, and drive it down by felling the tree on top of it.
"Can you really drive a stake with a tree?" I asked, and was answered, "Of
course, we do it every day."
The "under-cut" goes in about two-thirds the diameter. When it is finished
the stage is shifted to the opposite side, and then it is a remarkable
sight to see the tall, straight mass begin to tremble as the axe goes in.
It usually gives a heavy crack about fifteen minutes before it means to
fall. The chopper thereupon gives a warning shout, so that all may stand
clear--not of the tree, for he knows very well where that will go, and in
a cleared space men will stand within ten feet of where the top of a tree
is to strike, and watch its fall; his warning is against the branches of
other trees, which are sometimes torn off and flung to a distance by the
falling giant, and which occasionally dash out men's brains.
At last the tree visibly totters, and slowly goes over; and as it goes the
chopper gets off his stage and runs a few feet to one side. Then you hear
and see one of the grandest and most majestic incidents of forest life.
There is a sharp crack, a crash, and then a long, prolonged, thunderous
crash, which, when you hear it from a little distance, is startlingly like
an actual and severe thunder-peal. To see a tree six feet in diameter,
and one hundred and seventy-five feet high, thus go down, is a very great
sight, not soon forgotten.
The choppers expressed themselves as disappointed that they could not just
then show me the fall of a tree ten or twelve feet in diameter, and over
two hundred feet high. In one logging camp I visited there remained a
stump fourteen feet high. At this height the tree was fourteen feet in
diameter, perfectly round and sound, and it had been sawn into seventeen
logs, each twelve feet long. The upper length was six feet in diameter.
Probably the tree was three hundred feet long, for the top for a long
distance is wasted.
So many of the trees and so many parts of trees are splintered or broken
in the fall, that the master of a logging camp told me he thought they
wasted at least as much as they saved; and as the mills also waste a
good deal, it is probable that for every foot of this lumber that goes to
market two feet are lost. A five-foot tree occupies a chopper from two
and a half to three and a half hours, and to cut down a tree eight feet in
diameter is counted a day's work for a man.
When the tree is down the sawyers come. Each has a long saw; he removes
the bark at each cut with an axe, and then saws the tree into lengths.
It is odd enough to go past a tree and see a saw moving back and forward
across its diameter without seeing the man who moves it, for the tree
hides him completely from you, if you are on the side opposite him. Then
come the barkers, with long iron bars to rip off the thick bark; then the
jack-screw men, three or four of whom move a log about easily and rapidly
which a hundred men could hardly budge. They head it in the proper
direction for the teamsters and chain-men, and these then drag it down to
the water over roads which are watered to make the logs slide easily; and
then, either at high tide or during the winter freshets, the logs are run
down to the mill.
The Maine men make the best wood-choppers, but the logging camp is a
favorite place also for sailors; and I was told that Germans are liked as
workmen about timber. The choppers grind their axes once a week--usually,
I was told, on Sunday--and all hands in a logging camp work twelve hours a
The Government has lately become very strict in preserving the timber
on Congress land, which was formerly cut at random, and by any body who
chose. Government agents watch the loggers, and if these are anywhere
caught cutting timber on Congress land their rafts are seized and sold.
At present prices, it pays to haul logs in the redwood country only about
half a mile to water; all trees more distant than this from a river are
not cut; but the rivers are in many places near each other, and the belt
of timber left standing, though considerable, is not so great as one would
Redwood lumber has one singular property--it shrinks endwise, so that
where it is used for weather-boarding a house, one is apt to see the
butts shrunk apart. I am told that across the grain it does not shrink
Accidents are frequent in a logging camp, and good surgeons are in demand
in all the saw-mill ports, for there is much more occasion for surgery
than for physic. Men are cut with axes, jammed by logs, and otherwise
hurt, one of the most serious dangers arising from the fall of limbs torn
from standing trees by a falling one. Often such a limb lodges or sticks
in the high top of a tree until the wind blows it down, or the concussion
of the wood-cutter's axe, cutting down the tree, loosens it. Falling from
such a height as two hundred or two hundred and fifty feet, even a light
branch is dangerous, and men sometimes have their brains dashed out by
such a falling limb.
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.
[Illustration: PORT TOWNSEND, WASHINGTON TERRITORY.]
DAIRY-FARMING IN CALIFORNIA.
The great valleys of California do not produce much butter, and probably
never will, though I am told that cows fed on alfalfa, which is a kind of
lucerne, yield abundant and rich milk, and, when small and careful farming
comes into fashion in this State, there is no reason why stall-fed cows
should not yield butter, even in the San Joaquin or Sacramento valleys.
Indeed, with irrigation and stall-feeding, as one may have abundance of
green food all the year round in the valleys, there should be excellent
opportunity for butter-making.
But it is not necessary to use the agricultural soil for dairy purposes.
In the foot-hills of the Sierras, and on the mountains, too, for a
distance of more than a hundred miles along and near the line of the
railroad, there is a great deal of country admirably fitted for dairying,
and where already some of the most prosperous butter ranchos, as they call
them here, are found. And as they are near a considerable population of
miners and lumber-men, and have access by railroad to other centres of
population, both eastward and westward, the business is prosperous in this
large district, where, by moving higher up into the mountains as summer
advances, the dairy-man secures green food for his cows the summer
through, without trouble, on the one condition that he knows the country
and how to pick out his land to advantage.
Another dairy district lies on the coast, where the fogs brought in by the
prevailing north-west winds keep the ground moist, foster the greenness
and succulence of the native grasses during the summer, at least in the
ravines, and keep the springs alive.
Marin County, lying north of San Francisco, is the country of butter
ranches on the coast, though there are also many profitable dairies
south of the bay, in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. In fact, dry
as California is commonly and erroneously supposed to be, it exports a
considerable quantity of butter, and a dairy-man said to me but recently
that, to make the business really prosperous, the State needed a million
or two more inhabitants, which means that the surplus product is now so
great that it keeps down the price. No small quantity of this surplus goes
East, as far as New York; and it is one of the curiosities of production
and commerce that, while California can send butter to the Atlantic, it
buys eggs of Illinois. One would have thought the reverse more probable.
Marin County offers some important advantages to the dairy-farmer. The
sea-fogs which it receives cause abundant springs of excellent soft water,
and also keep the grass green through the summer and fall in the gulches
and ravines. Vicinity to the ocean also gives this region a very equal
climate. It is never cold in winter nor hot in summer. In the milk-houses
I saw usually a stove, but it was used mainly to dry the milk-room after
very heavy fogs or continued rains; and in the height of summer the
mercury marks at most sixty-seven degrees, and the milk keeps sweet
without artificial aids for thirty-six hours.
The cows require no sheds nor any store of food, though the best dairymen,
I noticed, raised beets; but more, they told me, to feed to their pigs
than for the cows. These creatures provide for themselves the year round
in the open fields; but care is taken, by opening springs and leading
water in iron pipes, to provide an abundance of this for them.
The county is full of dairy-farms; and, as this business requires rather
more and better buildings than wheat, cattle, or sheep farming, as well as
more fences, this gives the country a neater and thriftier appearance than
is usual among farming communities in California. The butter-maker must
have good buildings, and he must keep them in the best order.
But, besides these smaller dairy-farms, Marin County contains some large
"butter ranches," as they are called, which are a great curiosity in their
way. The Californians, who have a singular genius for doing things on
a large scale which in other States are done by retail, have managed to
conduct even dairying in this way, and have known how to "organize" the
making of butter in a way which would surprise an Orange County farmer.
Here, for instance--and to take the most successful and complete of these
experiments--is the rancho of Mr. Charles Webb Howard, on which I had the
curiosity to spend a couple of days. It contains eighteen thousand acres
of land well fitted for dairy purposes. On this he has at this time nine
separate farms, occupied by nine tenants engaged in making butter. To let
the farms outright would not do, because the tenants would put up poor
improvements, and would need, even then, more capital than tenant-farmers
usually have. Mr. Howard, therefore, contrived a scheme which seems to
work satisfactorily to all concerned, and which appears to me extremely
[Illustration: POINT REYES.]
He fences each farm, making proper subdivisions of large fields; he opens
springs, and leads water through iron pipes to the proper places, and
also to the dwelling, milk-house, and corral. He builds the houses, which
consist of a substantial dwelling, twenty-eight by thirty-two feet,
a story and a half high, and containing nine rooms, all lathed and
plastered; a thoroughly well-arranged milk-house, twenty-five by fifty
feet, having a milk-room in the centre twenty-five feet square, with a
churning-room, store-room, wash-room, etc.; a barn, forty by fifty
feet, to contain hay for the farm-horses; also a calf-shed, a corral, or
inclosure for the cows, a well-arranged pig-pen; and all these buildings
are put up in the best manner, well painted, and neat.
The tenant receives from the proprietor all this, the land, and, cows to
stock it. He furnishes, on his part, all the dairy utensils, the needed
horses and wagons, the furniture for the house, the farm implements, and
the necessary labor. The tenant pays to the owner twenty-seven dollars
and a half per annum for each cow, and agrees to take the best care of the
stock and of all parts of the farm; to make the necessary repairs, and to
raise for the owner annually one-fifth as many calves as he keeps cows,
the remainder of the calves being killed and fed to the pigs. He agrees
also to sell nothing but butter and hogs from the farm, the hogs being
entirely the tenant's property.
Under this system fifteen hundred and twenty cows are now kept on nine
separate farms on this estate, the largest number kept by one man being
two hundred and twenty-five, and the smallest one hundred and fifteen. Mr.
Howard has been for years improving his herd; he prefers short-horns,
and he saves every year the calves from the best milkers in all his herd,
using also bulls from good milking strains. I was told that the average
product of butter on the whole estate is now one hundred and seventy-five
pounds to each cow; many cows give as high as two hundred, and even two
hundred and fifty pounds per annum.
Men do the milking, and also the butter-making, though on one farm I found
a pretty Swedish girl superintending all the indoor work, with such skill
and order in all the departments, that she possessed, so far as I saw, the
model dairy on the estate.
Here, said I to myself, is now an instance of the ability of women to
compete with men which would delight Mrs. Stanton and all the Woman's
Rights people; here is the neatest, the sweetest, the most complete dairy
in the whole region; the best order, the most shining utensils, the nicest
butter-room--and not only butter, but cheese also, made, which is
not usual; and here is a rosy-faced, white-armed, smooth-haired,
sensibly-dressed, altogether admirable, and, to my eyes, beautiful Swedish
lass presiding over it all; commanding her men-servants, and keeping every
part of the business in order.
Alas! Mrs. Stanton, she has discovered a better business than
butter-making. She is going to marry--sensible girl that she is--and she
is not going to marry a dairy-farmer either.
I doubt if any body in California will ever make as nice butter as this
pretty Swede; certainly, every other dairy I saw seemed to me commonplace
and uninteresting, after I had seen hers. I don't doubt that the young
man who has had the art to persuade her to love him ought to be hanged,
because butter-making is far more important than marrying. Nevertheless,
I wish him joy in advance, and, in humble defiance of Mrs. Stanton and her
brilliant companions in arms, hereby give it as my belief that the pretty
Swede is a sensible girl--that, to use a California vulgarism, "her head
The hogs are fed chiefly on skim-milk, and belong entirely to the tenant.
The calves, except those which are raised for the proprietor, are, by
agreement, killed and fed to the pigs. The leases are usually for three
The cows are milked twice a day, being driven for that purpose into a
corral, near the milk-house. I noticed that they were all very gentle;
they lay down in the corral with that placid air which a good cow has; and
whenever a milkman came to the beast he wished to milk, she rose at once,
without waiting to be spoken to. One man is expected to milk twenty cows
in the season of full milk. On some places I noticed that Chinese were
employed in the milk-house, to attend to the cream and make the butter.
The tenants are of different nationalities, American, Swedes, Germans,
Irish, and Portuguese. A tenant needs about two thousand dollars in money
to undertake one of these dairy-farms; the system seems to satisfy those
who are now engaged in it. The milkers and farm hands receive thirty
dollars per month and "found;" and good milkers are in constant demand.
Every thing is conducted with great care and cleanliness, the buildings
being uncommonly good for this State, water abundant, and many
labor-saving contrivances used.
At one end of the corral or yard in which the cows are milked is a
platform, roofed over, on which stands a large tin, with a double
strainer, into which the milk is poured from the buckets. It runs through
a pipe into the milk-house, where it is again strained, and then emptied
from a bucket into the pans ranged on shelves around. The cream is taken
off in from thirty-six to forty hours; and the milk keeps sweet thirty-six
hours, even in summer. The square box-churn is used entirely, and is
revolved by horse-power. They usually get butter, I was told, in half an
The butter is worked on an ingenious turn-table, which holds one hundred
pounds at a time, and can, when loaded, be turned by a finger; and a
lever, working upon a universal joint, is used upon the butter. When
ready, it is put up in two-pound rolls, which are shaped in a hand-press,
and the rolls are not weighed until they reach the city. It is packed in
strong, oblong boxes, each of which holds fifty-five rolls.
The cows are not driven more than a mile to be milked; the fields being
so arranged that the corral is near the centre. When they are milked, they
stray back of themselves to their grazing places.
[Illustration: COLUMBIA RIVER SCENE.]
TEHAMA AND BUTTE, AND THE UPPER COUNTRY.
General Bidwell, of Butte County, raised last year on his own estate,
besides a large quantity of fruit, seventy-five thousand bushels of
wheat. Dr. Glenn, of Colusa County, raised and sent to market from his
own estate, two hundred thousand bushels. Mr. Warner, of Solano County,
produced nine thousand gallons of cider from his own orchards. A
sheep-grazer in Placer County loaded ten railroad cars with wool, the clip
of his own sheep. For many weeks after harvest you may see sacks of wheat
stacked along the railroad and the river for miles, awaiting shipment; for
the farmers have no rain to fear, and the grain crop is thrashed in the
field, bagged, and stacked along the road, without even a tarpaulin to
In 1855, California exported about four hundred and twenty tons of wheat;
in 1873, the export was but little less than six hundred thousand tons. In
1857, six casks and six hundred cases of California wine were sent out of
the State; in 1872, about six hundred thousand gallons were exported. In
1850, California produced five thousand five hundred and thirty pounds of
wool; in 1872, this product amounted to twenty-four million pounds. Thirty
million pounds of apples, ten million pounds of peaches, four and a half
million pounds of apricots, nearly two million pounds of cherries, are
part of the product of the State, in which the man is still living who
brought across the Plains the first fruit-trees to set out a nursery;
while four and a half million of oranges, and a million and a half of
lemons, shipped from the southern part of the State, show the rapid growth
of that culture.
In the northern counties, of which Tehama and Butte are a sample, they are
usually fortunate in the matter of late as well as early rains; but
close under the coast range the country is dryer, as is natural, the high
mountain range absorbing the moisture from the north-westerly winds. They
begin to plow as soon as it rains, usually in November, and sow the
grain at once. Formerly the higher plains were thought to be fit only for
grazing; but even the red lands, which are somewhat harder to break up,
and were thought to be infertile, are found to bear good crops of grain;
and this year these lands bear the drought better than some that were and
are preferred. Lambing takes place here in February, and they shear in
April. The grazing lands abound in wild oats, very nutritious, but apt to
run out where the pastures are overstocked. Alfilleria is not found so far
north as this; alfalfa has been sown all over the valley in proper places,
and does well. They cut it three times in the year, and turn stock in on
it after the last cutting; and all who grow it speak well of it.
Red Bluff is one of the oldest towns in the valley; it stands at the head
of navigation on the Sacramento, and was, therefore, a place of importance
before the railroad was built. The river here is narrow and shoal, and it
is crossed by one of those ferries common where the rapid current,
pushing against the ferry-boat, drives it across the stream, a wire cable
preventing it from floating down stream. The main street of the town
consists mainly of bar-rooms, livery-stables, barber-shops, and hotels,
with an occasional store of merchandise sandwiched between; and, if you
saw only this main street, you would conceive but a poor opinion of the
people. But other streets contain a number of pleasant, shady cottages;
and, as I drove out into the country, the driver pointed with pride to the
school-house, a large and fine building, which had just been completed at
a cost of thirty thousand dollars, and seemed to me worth the money. The
town has also water-works; and the people propose to bridge the Sacramento
at a cost of forty thousand dollars, and to build a new jail, to cost
fifteen thousand dollars. Such enterprises show the wealth of the people
in this State, and astonish the traveler, who imagines, in driving
over the great plain, that it is almost uninhabited, but sees, in a
thirty-thousand dollar school-house in a little town like Red Bluff, that
not only are there people, but that they have the courage to bear taxation
for good objects, and the means to pay.
From Red Bluff two of the great mountain peaks of Northern California
are magnificently seen--Lassen's Peaks and Shasta. The latter, still
one hundred and twenty miles off to the north, rears his great, craggy,
snow-covered summit high in the air, and seems not more than twenty miles
away. Lassen's Peaks are twins, and very lonely indeed. They are sixty
miles to the east, and are also, at this season, glistening with snow.
Between Lassen's and the Sacramento, some thirty miles up among the
mountains, there is a rich timber country, whose saw-mills supply the
northern part of the valley with lumber, sugar-pine being the principal
tree sawed up. The valley begins to narrow above Red Bluff, and the
foot-hills and mountains still abound in wild game. Hunters bring their
peltries hither for sale; and this has occasioned the establishment
at this point of a thriving glove factory, which turned out--from an
insignificant looking little shop--not less than forty thousand dollars'
worth of gloves last year. Two enterprising young men manage it, and they
employ, I was told, from fifty to eighty women in the work, and turn out
very excellent buckskin gloves, as well as some finer kinds. Such petty
industries are too often neglected in California, where every body still
wants to conduct his calling on a grand scale, and where dozens of ways to
prosperity, and even wealth, are constantly neglected, because they appear
This whole country is only about four years in advance of the lower or San
Joaquin Valley, and the influence of climate and soil in bringing trees to
bear early was shown to me in several thrifty orchards, already beginning
to bear, on ground which four years ago was bought for two dollars and
fifty cents per acre. The habit of raising wheat is so strong here, that
almost every thing else is neglected; and I remember a farm where the
wheat field extended, unbroken, except by a narrow path leading to the
road, right up to the veranda of the farmer's house. His family lived on
canned fruits and vegetables; and except here and there a brilliant poppy,
which stubborn Dame Nature had inserted among his wheat, wife and children
had not a flower to grace mantle or table. I confess that it pleased me
to hear this farmer complain of hard times, because, as he said, the
speculators in San Francisco made more money from his wheat than he did.
If the speculators in San Francisco teach the farmers in California to
grow something besides wheat, they will deserve well of the State.
The upper waters of the Sacramento run through mountain passes, and
between banks so steep that for miles at a time the river is inaccessible,
except by difficult and often dangerous descents; and an old miner told me
that when this part of the river, between where Redding now lies and its
source, near Mount Shasta, was first "prospected" for gold, the miners or
explorers had to build boats and descend by water, trying for gold by the
way, because they could not get down by land. In those days, he said, if a
company of miners could not make twenty dollars a day each, the "prospect"
was too poor to detain them; and they made but a short stay at most points
on the Upper Sacramento.
The country was then full of Indians; and it was very strange, indeed, to
hear this miner--a thoroughly kind-hearted man he was, and now the father
of a family of children--tell with the utmost unconcern, and as a matter
of course, how they used to shoot down these Indians, who waylaid them at
favoring spots on the river, and tried to pick them off with arrows.
I remember hearing a little boy ask a famous general once how many men he
had killed in the course of his wars, and being disappointed when he heard
that the general, so far as he know, had never killed any body. I suppose
a soldier in battle but rarely knows that he has actually shot a man. But
one of these old Indian fighters sits down after dinner, over a pipe, and
relates to you, with quite horrifying coolness, every detail of the death
which his rifle and his sure eye dealt to an Indian; and when this one,
stroking meantime the head of a little boy who was standing at his knees,
described to me how he lay on the grass and took aim at a tall chief
who was, in the moonlight, trying to steal a boat from a party of
gold-seekers, and how, at the crack of his rifle, the Indian fell his
whole length in the boat and never stirred again, I confess I was dumb
with amazement. The tragedy had not even the dignity of an event in this
man's life. He shot Indians as he ate his dinner, plainly as a mere matter
of course. Nor was he a brute, but a kindly, honest, good fellow, not in
the least blood-thirsty.
[Illustration: STREET IN OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON TERRITORY.]
The poor Indians have rapidly melted away under the fervent heat of
forty-rod whisky, rifles, and disease. This whole Northern country must
have been populous a quarter of a century ago; General Bidwell and other
old Californians have told me of the surprisingly rapid disappearance of
the Indians, after the white gold-seekers came in. It was, I do not doubt,
a pleasant land for the red men. They lived on salmon, clover, deer,
acorns, and a few roots which are abundant on mountain and plain, and of
all this food there is the greatest plenty even yet. If you travel toward
Oregon, by stage, in June, July, or August, you will see at convenient
points along the Sacramento parties of Indians spearing and trapping
salmon. They build a few rude huts of brush, gather sticks for the fire,
which is needed to cook and dry the salmon meat; and then, while the men,
armed with long two-pronged spears, stand at the end of logs projecting
over the salmon pools, and spear the abundant fish, the squaws clean the
fish, roast them to dryness among the hot stones of their rude fire-place,
and finally rub the dried meat to a powder between their hands, or by the
help of stones, when it is packed away in bags for winter use.
What you thus see on the Sacramento is going on at the same time on half
a dozen other rivers; and I am told that these Indians come from
considerable distances to this annual fishing, which was practiced by them
doubtless a long time before the white men came in. Not unfrequently
in these mountains you will find a castaway white man with a half-breed
family about him; "squaw-men" they are called, as a term of contempt, by
the more decent class.
As you drive by the farm-houses on the road, you may commonly see venison
hanging on the porch; and every farmer has a supply of fishing-rods and
lines, so that you can not go amiss for trout and venison. Few of them
know, however, that a trout ought to be cooked as quickly as possible
after he is caught; and if you do not take care, your afternoon fish will
appear on the table next day as corned trout, in which shape I have no
liking for it.
The Shasta Valley contains a good deal of excellent farming land, but
it is used now chiefly for cattle and sheep, and in many parts of it
the grazing is very fine. There are a number of lesser valleys scattered
through the mountains hereabouts. Indeed, the two ranges seem to open out
for a while, and Scott's Valley on the west, and the Klamath Lake country
to the east and north-east from Yreka, are favorite grazing regions. Here
there is occasional snow in the winter, and some cold weather; the spring
opens later and the rains last longer. The streams in all this region bear
gold, and miners are busy in them. Yreka, in the Shasta Valley, is the
centre of a considerable mining district, and therefore a busy place, even
without the Modoc war, which gave it a temporary renown during the winter
and spring. Now that the Modoc war is closed, no doubt the famous lava
beds will attract curious visitors from afar. They can be reached in
thirty-six hours from Yreka; and that place is distant thirty-six hours
from San Francisco.
Aside from the public lands still open in small tracts of eighty and
one hundred and sixty acres to pre-emption by actual settlers, under
the homestead law, and the railroad lands, to be had in sections of
six hundred and forty acres, the Sacramento Valley contains a number of
considerable Spanish grants; and the following account of these, which I
take from the San Francisco _Bulletin_ will give an Eastern reader some
idea of the extent of such grants, their value, and how they are used:
"The first large tract of land north and west of Marysville is the Neal
grant, containing about seventeen thousand acres. This grant is owned by
the Durham estate and Judge C.F. Lott, though Gruelly owns a large slice
of it also. The Neal grant is mostly composed of rich bottom-lands; nearly
all of it is farmed under lease; the lessees pay one-quarter to one-third
of the crops as rent. They do very well under this arrangement.
"The next grant on the north is that of Judge O.C. Pratt. It contains
twenty-eight thousand acres of bottom-land. Butte Creek skirts it on one
side for a distance of seventeen miles, and a branch of that creek runs
through the centre. Nearly six thousand acres are covered with large
oak-trees. There are about one hundred miles of fences on this rancho;
there are about ten thousand sheep, twelve hundred head of cattle, and two
hundred horses on it; the land has been cultivated or used as pasturage
for about fourteen years. About ten thousand acres of it, I am informed,
would readily sell in subdivisions for fifty dollars per acre; ten
thousand acres would sell for about thirty dollars, and eight thousand
acres at twenty dollars per acre. There are many tenants on this tract,
having leases covering periods of three to five years; rent, one-fourth of
the crop raised; the owner builds fences and houses for the lessees. The
average quantity of wool annually grown on this rancho is sixty thousand
pounds; beef cattle, two hundred and fifty head; value of produce received
as rent from tenants, twelve thousand dollars per year. Judge Pratt is
willing to sell farms of one hundred and sixty to three hundred and twenty
acres at about the rates named, and on easy terms.
"The Hensley grant, lying north of Judge Pratt's rancho, contains five
leagues. It was rejected by the United States Courts, and was taken up
by, and is covered with, settlers, who own one hundred and sixty to three
hundred and twenty acres each, worth forty to sixty dollars per acre.
Little or none of that land is for sale, the owners being too well
satisfied with their farms to sell them, even at the highest ruling rates.
"General Bidwell's rancho adjoins Judge Pratt's. It contains about twenty
thousand acres, of which about one-quarter is of the best quality, and
would readily sell at fifty to sixty dollars per acre. About five thousand
acres more, lying along the Sacramento River, are subject to overflow.
That portion is very rich grazing land, and is worth fifteen to twenty
dollars per acre. The other ten thousand acres lie near the foot-hills;
they are extremely well adapted to grape culture, and are worth five to
twelve dollars per acre. General Bidwell is not willing to sell.
"The next rancho on the west is owned by John Parrot. It contains about
seventeen thousand acres, and lies on the east bank of the Sacramento
River. It contains about four thousand acres of first-class wheat or corn
land; the remainder is composed of excellent pasturage; there are only a
few thousand sheep, and a few cattle and horses on this rancho. It has for
several years been cultivated by Morehead and Griffith, under a private
arrangement with the owner. It is understood that Parrot would sell,
either in a body or in small tracts, to desirable purchasers; his prices
would probably range from fifteen to fifty dollars per acre.
"The next large rancho is that of Henry Gerke, living twenty miles above
Chico. It now contains about eighteen thousand acres, of which a large
portion is suitable for wheat or corn growing, and grazing purposes. One
of the largest and finest vineyards in the State is on this rancho; and
the wine it produces has a large sale in the State. The most of Gerke's
land is devoted to wheat raising; eighteen hundred tons of wheat were
raised on it last year, and about twenty-two hundred tons this year. It is
mostly tilled by tenants. The land is worth from twenty to fifty dollars
per acre. The owner would sell the whole rancho, but it is not known
whether he would sell in small tracts or not. He has a standing offer of
six hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars for the land, vineyards, and
"General Wilson owns several thousand acres of the original Gerke grant.
His land is altogether devoted to wheat growing, and is worth forty
dollars per acre.
"A.G. Towne's grant adjoins Gerke's on the north and west. It now contains
about twelve thousand acres; much of it is devoted to wheat growing, and
is worth fifteen to forty dollars per acre, or an average all round of
"At Tehama, on the west side of the Sacramento River, is Thome's grant.
It contains about twenty thousand acres, one-third of which is of the very
best quality of wheat land, the remainder good grazing. It is understood
that this land can be bought either as a whole or in small farms. The
best of it is worth about forty-five dollars an acre; the body of it about
"The next grant, on the north, is that of William G. Chard. It is nearly
all cut up and owned in small farms. Colonel E.J. Lewis, a well-known
politician, is one of the largest owners on the Chard tract. He is
extensively engaged in wheat raising.
"Ide's grant is adjacent, on the north; it is also mostly divided and
owned in small tracts of one hundred and sixty to four hundred acres each.
"The Dye grant lies east of and opposite to Red Bluff. It was originally
a large grant, but has been partially subdivided. It contains some good
bottomland, but is mostly adapted to grazing.
"The most northerly grant in the State is that formerly owned by the late
Major Redding. It is partially subdivided. Like the Dye grant, it contains
some rich bottom-land, but, like it, is mostly adapted for grazing and
grape growing. Haggin and Tevis lately bought (or hold for debt) about
fifteen thousand acres of this rancho, which are worth about one hundred
thousand dollars, or about seven dollars per acre. It is understood from
inquiries made from the owners of these two last named tracts, that they
are willing to sell grain lands at about an average of thirty dollars per
Of course these grants make up, in the aggregate, but a small part of the
arable land of the Sacramento Valley.
[Illustration: "TACOMA," OR MOUNT RAINIER.]
TOBACCO CULTURE--WITH A NEW METHOD OF CURING THE LEAF.
The manufacture of cigars is one of the largest industries of San
Francisco. Last year the Government received taxes on 78,000,000 cigars
made in the State of California, and in September alone taxes were paid
on 8,000,000. But, though the State has thousands of acres of land well
fitted to produce tobacco, and though the "weed" has been grown here for
twenty years or more with great success, so far as getting a heavy crop is
concerned, I doubt if even 1,000,000 of cigars have, until this fall, been
made of tobacco raised in California.
There has, however, been no lack of efforts to produce here tobacco fit to
manufacture into cigars and for smoking and chewing purposes. The soil in
many parts of the State is peculiarly adapted to this plant; the climate,
mild and regular, favored its growth and hastened its perfection. The best
seed was procured from Connecticut, Kentucky, Virginia, Florida, and Cuba.
But for many years the product was rank, coarse, and fitter for sheep-wash
than for any other purpose.
Meantime, however, not a few men familiar with the old processes of
raising and curing the plant have tried their best ingenuity to improve
the quality. It was thought that the soil was too rich, because the
tobacco makes a rapid and heavy growth; but planting on thinner or older
soil did not answer. Several methods of curing were contrived, and there
is now reason to believe that the one known as the Culp process, from the
name of its patentee, will produce the desired result. I had heard and
read so much about it, and about the merit of the tobacco produced by
it, that I went down to Gilroy, seventy or eighty miles south of San
Francisco, to see what had really been accomplished. The account I give
below will probably interest many tobacco growing and manufacturing
readers, while it will, I fear, painfully affect the spirits of the
anti-tobacconists; for there is reason to believe that tobacco will become
presently one of the most important and valuable crops of this State.
I must premise that I am not an expert in tobacco, nor familiar with the
methods pursued in the East. I have seen a tobacco-field and the inside of
a Connecticut curing-house, and that is about all. I give, therefore, not
opinions, but facts.
Gilroy stands in a long and broad plain, a very rich piece of alluvial
bottom, with water so abundant that artesian wells are easily bored and
very common. At the depth of one hundred and thirty feet they get flowing
wells, and it happened in one case of which I heard that the water came up
with such force as to prevent the casing going down into the well, and
the pressure of the water broke away the ground, enlarged the bore of the
well, and threatened to flood a considerable area, so that the farmers
gathered in force, and by means of an iron caisson loaded with stones, and
with many cart-loads of stones besides, plugged up the dangerous hole.
The land is a deep alluvial loam, easily worked, and here, and in some
neighboring valleys, many tobacco growers have been engaged for the
last ten or twelve years. Mr. Culp, who was a tobacco grower, and, if I
understood him rightly, also a manufacturer in New York for some years
before he came here, and who appears, at any rate, to be a very thorough
farmer and a lover of clean fields, has planted tobacco here for fifteen
years. He has a farm of about seven hundred acres, four hundred of
which have this year been in tobacco. From him and others I learned the
following particulars of the way in which they cultivate the plant in
They sow the seed from the 1st to the 10th of January, and sometimes even
in December. The beds are prepared and sown as in the East, except that
they do not always burn the ground over, which, if I remember rightly,
is invariably done in Missouri and Kentucky. In this season, the days are
always warm enough for the little plants; but there are light frosts at
night, and they are protected against these by frames covered with thin
The fields are plowed--by the best growers--ten inches deep; cross-plowed
and harrowed until the soil is fine, and then ridged--that is to say, two
furrows are thrown together. This saves the plants from harm by a heavy
rain, and also makes the ground warmer, and is found to start the plants
Planting in the fields begins about the 8th of April; and the plants are
set a foot apart in the rows, the rows being three feet apart, if they are
from Havana seed; if Connecticut or Florida, they stand eighteen inches or
two feet apart in the rows.
They had grown, besides Havana and Florida, for their crop, Latakia,
Hungarian, Mexican, Virginia, Connecticut-seed Standard, Burleigh, White
Leaf, and some other kinds, by way of experiment.
Cultivators and shovel-plows are used to keep the soil loose and clean;
if the weather should prove damp and cold, the shovel-plow is used to make
the ridges somewhat higher. They go over the fields twice in the season
with these tools, using the hoe freely where weeds get into the rows. Last
year, in twenty-six days after they were done planting, they had gathered
two bales of tobacco. This, however, is not common, and was done by very
close management, and on a warm soil.
All the tobacco growers with whom I spoke assert that they are not
troubled with that hideous creature, "the worm." They attribute this in
part to the excellence of their soil, and partly to the abundance of birds
and yellow jackets. They do not "worm" their crop, it seems, which must
give them an enviable advantage over Eastern growers.
They do not always "top" the Havana, and they do very little "suckering."
If the ground is clean, they let the suckers from the root grow, and these
become as large and heavy as the original plant. They believe that the
soil is strong enough to bear the plants and suckers, and that they get a
better leaf and finer quality without suckering.
The planting is continued from April until the latter part of July, so as
to let the crop come in gradually; the last planting may be caught by an
early frost, but whatever they plant before the 1st of July is safe in
any season. Cutting begins about the 4th of June, and this year they were
cutting still on the 19th of October. The earlier cut plants sprout again
at once, and mature a second and even a third crop. Mr. Culp told me that
he had taken four crops of Havana in one year from the same field, and I
saw considerable fields of third crop just cut or standing; but in some
cases the frost had caught this. "If the soil is in perfect order, we can
here make a crop of Havana in forty days from the planting," said he.
One man can prepare and take care of ten acres here, keeping it in good
order. For planting and cutting, of course, an extra force is used. One
man can set out or plant three thousand plants in a day of Havana; of the
other kinds from fifteen hundred to two thousand.
The tobacco is cut with a hatchet; if it is Havana, the toppers usually
go just ahead of the cutters in the field, or they may be a day ahead.
Florida is topped ten days or two weeks before cutting. You must remember
that after April they have no rain here, so that all field work goes on
without interruption from the weather, and crops can be exposed in the
field as a planter would not dare do in the East. Up to the cutting, the
methods here differ from those used in the East, only so far as climate
and soil are different.
When the plant lies in the field Mr. Culp's peculiar process begins; and
this I prefer to describe to you as nearly as I can in his own words.
He said that tobacco had long been grown in California even before the
Americans came. He had raised it as a crop for fifteen years; and before
he perfected his new process, he was able usually to select the best of
his crop for smoking-tobacco, and sold the remainder for sheep-wash.
One year two millions of pounds were raised in the State, and, as it was
mostly sold for sheep-wash, it lasted several years, and discouraged the
growers. Tobacco always grew readily, but it was too rank and strong. They
used Eastern methods, topping and suckering, and as the plant had here a
very long season to grow and mature, the leaf was thick and very strong.
The main features of the Culp process are, he said, to let the tobacco,
when cut, wilt on the field; then take it at once to the tobacco-house and
pile it down, letting it heat on the piles to 100 degrees for Havana.
It must, he thinks, come to 100 deg., but if it rises to 102 deg. it is ruined.
Piling, therefore, requires great judgment. The tobacco-houses are kept
at a temperature of about 70 degrees; and late in the fall, to cure a late
second or third crop, they sometimes use a stove to maintain a proper heat
in the house, for the tobacco must not lie in the pile without heating.
[Illustration: INDIAN CRADLE, WASHINGTON TERRITORY.]
When it has had its first sweat, it is hung up on racks; and here Mr.
Culp's process is peculiar. He places the stalk between two battens,
so that it sticks out horizontally from the frame; thus each leaf hangs
independently from the stalk; and the racks or frames are so arranged that
all the leaves on all the stalks have a separate access to the air.
The tobacco-houses are frame buildings, 100 x 60 feet, with usually four
rows of racks, and two gangways for working. On the rack the surface
moisture dries from the leaf; and at the proper time it is again piled,
racked, and so on for three or even four times. The racks are of rough
boards, and the floor of the house is of earth.
After piling and racking for three weeks, the leaves are stripped from the
stalk and put into "hands," and they are then "bulked," and lie thus about
three months, when the tobacco is boxed. From the time of cutting,
from four to six months are required to make the leaf ready for the
"Piling" appears to be the most delicate part of the cure, and they have
often to work all night to save tobacco that threatens to overheat. Mr.
Culp thinks the dryness of the climate no disadvantage. I was told
that they find it useful sometimes to sprinkle the floors of the
I saw racks, too, in the fields--portable, and easily carried anywhere;
and on these a great quantity of Florida tobacco, used for chewing and
smoking, had been or was getting cured. It was piled in the field where it
was cut, and the whole curing process, up to "bulking," is carried on in
the open air. Havana "fillers" they also cure in the field, as the fine
color is not needed for that.
Mr. Culp thought his method of horizontal suspension allowed the juices
from the stalk to be carefully distributed among the leaves. He told me
that a fair average crop was about 1500 pounds of Havana, or 2500 pounds
of Florida, per acre, of merchantable leaf. In favorable localities this
was considerably exceeded, he said. For chewing-tobacco, the cut plant is
piled but once.
For four hundred acres of tobacco, about one hundred and twenty-five
Chinese were employed in cutting and curing. After planting and up to the
cutting season they had but fifty men employed. The Chinese receive one
dollar a day and board themselves, living an apparently jolly life in
shanties near the fields.
They get their Havana seed from Cuba. The Patent Office seed did not
do well. They do not like to risk seed of their own plants. He used
home-grown seed for nine years; he could not say that there was a serious
deterioration or change in the quality of the tobacco, but a singular
change in the form of the leaf took place. That from home-grown seed gets
longer, and the veins or ribs, which in Havana tobacco stand out at right
angles from the leaf stalk, take an acute angle, and thus become longer
and make up a greater part of the leaf. Of Florida tobacco the home-grown
seed comes true.
In summer the roads get very dusty in California, and this dust is a
disadvantage to the tobacco planter. On the Culp farm I found they were
planting double rows of shade trees along the main roads, and graveling
the interior roads; also, they seem to feel the high winds which sweep
through the California valleys, and were planting almonds and cotton-woods
for windbreaks in the fields. It seemed odd to see long rows of
almond-trees used for this purpose.
This process has so far won the confidence of experts in tobacco in this
State, that a company with large capital has undertaken not only the
raising of tobacco by its method, but also the manufacture into cigars,
and plug, smoking, and fine-cut chewing-tobacco. They are just beginning
operations in Gilroy, on a scale which will enable them to manufacture all
the tobacco grown this year on about six hundred acres, and they mean to
plant next year one thousand acres, and expect that from fifteen hundred
to two thousand acres will be planted and cured by others under licenses
from the patentee. Commercially, of course, their undertaking is yet an
experiment, though excellent cigars and tobacco have been made already;
but the year 1874 will decide the result; and if it should prove as
successful as is hoped, and as there is good cause to believe it will,
a new and very profitable branch of agriculture will be opened for the
farmers of this State; for tobacco will grow in almost all parts of it.
[Illustration: RUNNING THE ROOKERIES--GATHERING MURRE EGGS.]
THE FARALLON ISLANDS.
If you approach the harbor of San Francisco from the west, your first
sight of land will be a collection of picturesque rocks known as the
Farallones, or, more fully, the Farallones de los Frayles. They are six
rugged islets, whose peaks lift up their heads in picturesque masses out
of the ocean, twenty-three and a half miles from the Golden Gate, the
famous entrance of San Francisco Bay. Farallon is a Spanish word, meaning
a small pointed islet in the sea.
These rocks, probably of volcanic origin, and bare and desolate, lie in
a line from south-east to north-west--curiously enough the same line
in which the islands of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Island group have been
thrown up. Geologists say they are the outcrop of an immense granite dike.
The southernmost island, which is the largest--just as Hawaii, the
southernmost of the Sandwich Island group, is also the biggest--extends
for nearly a mile east and west, and is three hundred and forty feet high.
It is composed of broken and water-worn rocks, forming numerous angular
peaks, and having several caves; and the rock, mostly barren and bare,
has here and there a few weeds and a little grass. At one point there is a
small beach, and at another a depression; but the fury of the waves makes
landing at all times difficult, and for the most part impossible.
The Farallones are seldom visited by travelers or pleasure-seekers. The
wind blows fiercely here most of the time; the ocean is rough; and, to
persons subject to sea-sickness, the short voyage is filled with the
misery of that disease. Yet they contain a great deal that is strange and
curious. On the highest point of the South Farallon the Government has
placed a light-house, a brick tower seventeen feet high, surmounted by a
lantern and illuminating apparatus. It is a revolving white light, showing
a prolonged flash of ten seconds duration once in a minute. The light
is about three hundred and sixty feet above the sea, and with a clear
atmosphere is visible, from a position ten feet high, twenty-five and a
half miles distant; from an elevation of sixty feet, it can be seen nearly
thirty-one miles away; and it is plainly visible from Sulphur Peak on the
main-land, thirty-four hundred and seventy-one feet high, and sixty-four
and a half miles distant. The light-house is in latitude 37 deg. 41' 8" north,
and longitude 122 deg. 59' 05" west.
On our foggy Western coast it has been necessary to place the light-houses
low, because if they stood too high their light would be hidden in
fog-banks and low clouds. The tower on the South Farallon is, therefore,
low; and this, no doubt, is an advantage also to the light-keepers, who
are less exposed to the buffetings of the storm than if their labor and
care lay at a higher elevation.
As the Farallones lie in the track of vessels coming from the westward to
San Francisco, the light is one of the most important, as it is also one
of the most powerful on our Western coast; and it is supplemented by a
fog-whistle, which is one of the most curious contrivances of this kind
in the world. It is a huge trumpet, six inches in diameter at its smaller
end, and blown by the rush of air through a cave or passage connecting
with the ocean.
One of the numerous caves worn into the rocks by the surf had a hole at
the top, through which the incoming breakers violently expelled the air
they carried before them. Such spout-holes are not uncommon on rugged,
rocky coasts. There are several on the Mendocino coast, and a number on
the shores of the Sandwich Islands. This one, however, has been utilized
by the ingenuity of man. The mouth-piece of the trumpet or fog-whistle is
fixed against the aperture in the rock, and the breaker, dashing in with
venomous spite, or the huge bulging wave which would dash a ship to pieces
and drown her crew in a single effort, now blows the fog-whistle and warns
the mariner off. The sound thus produced has been heard at a distance of
seven or eight miles. It has a peculiar effect, because it has no regular
period; depending upon the irregular coming in of the waves, and upon
their similarly irregular force, it is blown somewhat as an idle boy would
blow his penny trumpet. It ceases entirely for an hour and a half at low
water, when the mouth of the cave or passage is exposed.
[Illustration: LIGHT-HOUSE ON THE SOUTH FARALLON.]
[Illustration: ARCH AT WEST END, FARALLON ISLANDS.]
The life of the keepers of the Farallon light is singularly lonely and
monotonous. Their house is built somewhat under the shelter of the rocks,
but they live in what to a landsman would seem a perpetual storm; the
ocean roars in their ears day and night; the boom of the surf is their
constant and only music; the wild scream of the sea-birds, the howl of
the sea-lions, the whistle and shriek of the gale, the dull, threatening
thunder of the vast breakers, are the dreary and desolate sounds which
lull them to sleep at night, and assail their ears when they awake. In the
winter months even their supply vessel, which, for the most part, is their
only connection with the world, is sometimes unable to make a landing for
weeks at a time. Chance visitors they see only occasionally, and at that
distance at which a steamer is safe from the surf, and at which a girl
could not even recognize her lover. The commerce of San Francisco passes
before their eyes, but so far away that they can not tell the ships and
steamers which sail by them voiceless and without greeting; and of the
events passing on the planet with which they have so frail a social tie
they learn only at long and irregular intervals. The change from sunshine
to fog is the chief variety in their lives; the hasty landing of supplies
the great event in their months. They can not even watch the growth of
trees and plants; and to a child born and reared in such a place, a sunny
lee under the shelter of rocks is probably the ideal of human felicity.
Except the rock of Tristan d'Acunha in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, I have
never seen an inhabited spot which seemed so utterly desolate, so entirely
separated from the world, whose people appeared to me to have such a
slender hold on mankind. Yet for their solace they know that a powerful
Government watches over their welfare, and--if that is any comfort--that,
thirty miles away, there are lights and music and laughter and singing, as
well as crowds, and all the anxieties and annoyances incidental to what we
are pleased to call civilization.
But though these lonely rocks contain but a small society of human
beings--the keepers and their families--they are filled with animal life;
for they are the home of a multitude of sea-lions, and of vast numbers of
birds and rabbits.
The rabbits, which live on the scanty herbage growing among the rooks,
are descended from a few pair brought here many years ago, when some
speculative genius thought to make a huge rabbit-warren of these rocks for
the supply of the San Francisco market. These little animals are not very
wild. In the dry season they feed on the bulbous roots of the grass, and
sometimes they suffer from famine. In the winter and spring they are fat,
and then their meat is white and sweet. During summer and fall they are
not fit to eat.
They increase very rapidly, and at not infrequent intervals they
overpopulate the island, and then perish by hundreds of starvation and
the diseases which follow a too meagre diet. They are of all colors,
and though descended from some pairs of tame white rabbits, seem to have
reverted in color to the wild race from which they originated.
The Farallones have no snakes.
The sea-lions, which congregate by thousands upon the cliffs, and bark,
and howl, and shriek and roar in the caves and upon the steep sunny
slopes, are but little disturbed, and one can usually approach them within
twenty or thirty yards. It is an extraordinarily interesting sight to
see these marine monsters, many of them bigger than an ox, at play in the
surf, and to watch the superb skill with which they know how to control
their own motions when a huge wave seizes them, and seems likely to dash
them to pieces against the rocks. They love to lie in the sun upon the
bare and warm rocks; and here they sleep, crowded together, and lying upon
each other in inextricable confusion.
The bigger the animal, the greater his ambition appears to be to climb
to the highest summit; and when a huge, slimy beast has with infinite
squirming attained a solitary peak, he does not tire of raising his
sharp-pointed, maggot-like head, and complacently looking about him. They
are a rough set of brutes--rank bullies, I should say; for I have watched
them repeatedly as a big one shouldered his way among his fellows, reared
his huge front to intimidate some lesser seal which had secured a favorite
spot, and first with howls, and if this did not suffice, with teeth and
main force, expelled the weaker from his lodgment. The smaller sea-lions,
at least those which have left their mothers, appear to have no rights
which any one is bound to respect. They get out of the way with an abject
promptness which proves that they live in terror of the stronger members
of the community; but they do not give up their places without harsh
complaints and piteous groans.
Plastered against the rocks, and with their lithe and apparently boneless
shapes conformed to the rude and sharp angles, they are a wonderful, but
not a graceful or pleasing sight. At a little distance they look like huge
maggots, and their slow, ungainly motions upon the land do not lessen this
resemblance. Swimming in the ocean, at a distance from the land, they are
inconspicuous objects, as nothing but the head shows above water, and that
only at intervals. But when the vast surf which breaks in mountain waves
against the weather side of the Farallones with a force which would in
a single sweep dash to pieces the biggest Indiaman--when such a surf,
vehemently and with apparently irresistible might, lifts its tall
white head, and with a deadly roar lashes the rocks half-way to their
summit--then it is a magnificent sight to see a dozen or half a hundred
great sea-lions at play in the very midst and fiercest part of the boiling
surge, so completely masters of the situation that they allow themselves
to be carried within a foot or two of the rocks, and at the last and
imminent moment, with an adroit twist of their bodies, avoid the shock,
and, diving, re-appear beyond the breaker.
As I sat, fascinated with this weird spectacle of the sea-lions, which
seemed to me like an unhallowed prying into some hidden and monstrous
secret of nature, I could better realize the fantastic and brutal wildness
of life in the earlier geological ages, when monsters and chimeras dire
wallowed about our unripe planet, and brute force of muscles and lungs
ruled among the populous hordes of beasts which, fortunately for us,
have perished, leaving us only this great wild sea-beast as a faint
reminiscence of their existence. I wondered what Dante would have
thought--and what new horrors his gloomy imagination would have conjured,
could he have watched this thousand or two of sea-lions at their sports.
The small, sloping, pointed head of the creature gives it, to me, a
peculiarly horrible appearance. It seems to have no brain, and presents
an image of life with the least intelligence. It is in reality not without
wits, for one needs only to watch the two or three specimens in the great
tank at Woodward's Gardens, when they are getting fed, to see that they
instantly recognize their keeper, and understand his voice and motion.
But all their wit is applied to the basest uses. Greed for food is their
ruling passion, and the monstrous lightning-like lunges through the water,
the inarticulate shrieks of pleasure or of fury as he dashes after his
food or comes up without it, the wild, fierce eyes, the eager and brutal
vigor with which he snatches a morsel from a smaller fellow-creature, the
reliance on strength alone, and the abject and panic-struck submission
of the weaker to the stronger--all this shows him a brute of the lowest
Yet there is a wonderful snake-like grace in the lithe, swift motions of
the animal when he is in the surf. You forget the savage blood-shot
eyes, the receding forehead, the clumsy figure and awkward motion, as he
wriggles up the steep rocks, the moment you see him at his superb sport in
the breakers. It seemed to me that he was another creature. The eye looks
less baleful, and even joyous; every movement discloses conscious power;
the excitement of the sport sheds from him somewhat of the brutality which
re-appears the moment he lands or seeks his food.
So far as I could learn, the Farallon sea-lions are seldom disturbed by
men seeking profit from them. In the egging season one or two are shot to
supply oil to the lamps of the eggers; and occasionally one is caught
for exhibition on the main-land. How do they catch a sea-lion? Well, they
lasso him, and, odd as it sounds, it is the best and probably the only way
to capture this beast. An adroit Spaniard, to whom the lasso or reata
is like a fifth hand, or like the trunk to the elephant, steals up to a
sleeping congregation, fastens his eye on the biggest one of the lot, and,
biding his time, at the first motion of the animal, with unerring skill
flings his loose rawhide noose, and then holds on for dear life. It is the
weight of an ox and the vigor of half a dozen that he has tugging at the
other end of his rope, and if a score of men did not stand ready to help,
and if it were not possible to take a turn of the reata around a solid
rock, the seal would surely get away.
Moreover, they must handle the beast tenderly, for it is easily injured.
Its skin, softened by its life in the water, is quickly cut by the rope;
its bones are easily broken; and its huge frame, too rudely treated,
may be so hurt that the life dies out of it. As quickly as possible the
captured sea-lion is stuffed into a strong box or cage, and here, in a
cell too narrow to permit movement, it roars and yelps in helpless fury,
until it is transported to its tank. Wild and fierce as it is, it seems to
reconcile itself to the tank life very rapidly. If the narrow space of its
big bath-tub frets it, you do not perceive this, for hunger is its chief
passion, and with a moderately full stomach the animal does well in
captivity, of course with sufficient water.
The South Farallon is the only inhabited one of the group. The remainder
are smaller; mere rocky points sticking up out of the Pacific. The Middle
Farallon is a single rock, from fifty to sixty yards in diameter, and
twenty or thirty feet above the water. It lies two and a half miles
north-west by west from the light-house. The North Farallon consists, in
fact, of four pyramidal rocks, whose highest peak, in the centre of the
group, is one hundred and sixty feet high; the southern rock of the four
is twenty feet high. The four have a diameter of one hundred and sixty,
one hundred and eighty-five, one hundred and twenty-five, and thirty-five
yards respectively, and the most northern of the islets bears north 64 deg.
west from the Farallon light, six and three-fifths miles distant.
All the islands are frequented by birds; but the largest, the South
Farallon, on which the light-house stands, is the favorite resort of these
creatures, who come here in astonishing numbers every summer to breed;
and it is to this island that the eggers resort at that season to obtain
supplies of sea-birds' eggs for the San Francisco market, where they have
a regular and large sale.
The birds which breed upon the Farallones are gulls, murres, shags, and
sea-parrots, the last a kind of penguin. The eggs of the shags and parrots
are not used, but the eggers destroy them to make more room for the other
birds. The gull begins to lay about the middle of May, and usually ten
days before the murre. The gull makes a rude nest of brush and sea-weed
upon the rocks; the murre does not take even this much trouble, but lays
its eggs in any convenient place on the bare rocks.
[Illustration: THE GULL'S NEST.]
The gull is soon through, but the murre continues to lay for about two
months. The egging season lasts, therefore, from the 10th or 20th of
May until the last of July. In this period the egg company which has for
eighteen years worked this field gathered in 1872 seventeen thousand nine
hundred and fifty-two dozen eggs, and in 1873 fifteen thousand two hundred
and three dozen. These brought last year in the market an average of
twenty-six cents per dozen. There has been, I was assured by the manager,
no sensible decrease in the number of the birds or the eggs during twenty
From fifteen to twenty men are employed during the egging season in
collecting and shipping the eggs. They live on the island during that time
in rude shanties near the usual landing-place. The work is not amusing,
for the birds seek out the least accessible places, and the men must
follow, climbing often where a goat would almost hesitate. But this is not
the worst. The gull sits on her nest, and resists the robber who comes for
her eggs, and he must take care not to get bitten. The murre remains until
her enemy is close upon her; then she rises with a scream which often
startles a thousand or two of birds, who whirl up into the air in a dense
mass, scattering filth and guano over the eggers.
Nor is this all. The gulls, whose season of breeding is soon past, are
extravagantly fond of murre eggs; and these rapacious birds follow the
egg-gatherers, hover over their heads, and no sooner is a murre's nest
uncovered than the bird swoops down, and the egger must be extremely
quick, or the gull will snatch the prize from under his nose. So greedy
and eager are the gulls that they sometimes even wound the eggers,
striking them with their beaks. But if the gull gets an egg, he flies up
with it, and, tossing it up, swallows what he can catch, letting the shell
and half its contents fall in a shower upon the luckless and disappointed
[Illustration: SHAGS, MURRES, AND SEA-GULLS.]
Finally, so difficult is the ground that it is impossible to carry
baskets. The egger therefore stuffs the eggs into his shirt bosom until
he has as many as he can safely carry, then clambers over rocks and down
precipices until he comes to a place of deposit, where he puts them into
baskets, to be carried down to the shore, where there are houses for
receiving them. But so skillful and careful are the gatherers that but few
eggs are broken.
The gathering proceeds daily, when it has once begun, and the whole ground
is carefully cleared off, so that no stale eggs shall remain. Thus if a
portion of the ground has been neglected for a day or two, all the eggs
must be flung into the sea, so as to begin afresh. As the season advances,
the operations are somewhat contracted, leaving a part of the island
undisturbed for breeding; and the gathering of eggs is stopped entirely
about a month before the birds usually leave the island, so as to give
them all an opportunity to hatch out a brood.
[Illustration: CONTEST FOR THE EGGS.]
The murre is not good to eat. If undisturbed it lays two eggs only; when
robbed, it will keep on laying until it has produced six or even eight
eggs; and the manager of the islands told me that he had found as many as
eight eggs forming in a bird's ovaries when he killed and opened it in the
beginning of the season. The male bird regularly relieves the female on
the nest, and also watches to resist the attacks of the gull, which
not only destroys the eggs, but also eats the young. The murre feeds on
sea-grass and jelly-fish, and I was assured that though some hundreds had
been examined at different times, no fish had ever been found in a murre's
The bird is small, about the size of a half-grown duck, but its egg is
as large as a goose egg. The egg is brown or greenish, and speckled. When
quite fresh it has no fishy taste, but when two or three days old the
fishy taste becomes perceptible. They are largely used in San Francisco by
the restaurants and bakers, and for omelets, cakes, and custards.
During the height of the egging season the gulls hover in clouds over the
rocks, and when a rookery is started, and the poor birds leave their nests
by hundreds, the air is presently alive with gulls flying off with the
eggs, and the eggers are sometimes literally drenched.
There is thus inevitably a considerable waste of eggs. I asked some of the
eggers how many murres nested on the South Farallon, and they thought at
least one hundred thousand. I do not suppose this an extravagant estimate,
for, taking the season of 1872, when seventeen thousand nine hundred and
fifty-two dozen eggs were actually sold in San Francisco, and allowing
half a dozen to each murre, this would give nearly thirty-six thousand
birds; and adding the proper number for eggs broken, destroyed by gulls,
and not gathered, the number of murres and gulls is probably over one
hundred thousand. This on an island less than a mile in its greatest
diameter, and partly occupied by the light-house and fog-whistle and their
keepers, and by other birds and a large number of sea-lions!
When they are done laying, and when the young can fly, the birds leave the
island, usually going off together. During the summer and fall they return
in clouds at intervals, but stay only a few days at a time, though there
are generally a few to be found at all times; and I am told that eggs in
small quantities can be found in the fall.
The murre does not fly high, nor is it a very active bird, or apparently
of long flight. But the eggers say that when it leaves the island they do
not know whither it goes, and they assert that it is not abundant on the
neighboring coast. The young begin to fly when they are two weeks old, and
the parents usually take them immediately into the water.
The sea-parrot has a crest, and somewhat resembles a cockatoo. Its numbers
on the South Farallon are not great. It makes a nest in a hole in the
rocks, and bites if it is disturbed. The island was first used as a
sealing station; but this was not remunerative, there being but very few
fur seal, and no sea-otters. This animal, which abounds in Alaska, and
is found occasionally on the southern coast of California, frequents
the masses of kelp which line the shore; but there is no kelp about the
In the early times of California, when provisions were high-priced, the
egg-gatherers sometimes got great gains. Once, in 1853, a boat absent but
three days brought in one thousand dozen, and sold the whole cargo at a
dollar a dozen; and in one season thirty thousand dozen were gathered, and
brought an average of but little less than this price.
[Illustration: THE GREAT ROOKERY.]
Of course there was an egg war. The prize was too great not to be
struggled for; and the rage of the conflicting claimants grew to such
a pitch that guns were used and lives were threatened, and at last the
Government of the United States had to interfere to keep the peace. But
with lower prices the strife ceased; the present company bought out, I
believe, all adverse claims, and for the last fifteen or sixteen years
peace has reigned in this part of the county of San Francisco--for these
lonely islets are a part of the same county with the metropolis of the
[Illustration: INDIAN GIRLS AND CANOE, PUGET SOUND.]
THE COLUMBIA RIVER AND PUGET SOUND--HINTS TO TOURISTS.
In less than forty-eight hours after you leave San Francisco you find
yourself crossing the bar which lies at the mouth of the Columbia River,
and laughing, perhaps, over the oft-told local tale of how a captain,
new to this region, lying off and on with his vessel, and impatiently
signaling for a pilot, was temporarily comforted by a passenger, an old
Californian, who "wondered why Jim over there couldn't take her safe over
"Do you think he knows the soundings well enough?" asked the anxious
skipper; and was answered,
"I don't know about that, captain; but he's been taking all sorts of
things 'straight' over the bar for about twenty years, to _my_ knowledge,
and I should think he might manage the brig."
The voyage from San Francisco is almost all the way in sight of land; and
as you skirt the mountainous coast of Oregon you see long stretches of
forest, miles of tall firs killed by forest fires, and rearing their bare
heads toward the sky like a vast assemblage of bean-poles--a barren view
which you owe to the noble red man, who, it is said, sets fire to these
great woods in order to produce for himself a good crop of blueberries.
When, some years ago, Walk-in-the-Water, or Red Cloud, or some other
Colorado chief, asserted in Washington the right of the Indian to hunt
buffalo, on the familiar ground that he _must_ live, a journalist given to
figures demolished the Indian position by demonstrating that a race which
insisted on living on buffalo meat required about sixteen thousand acres
of land per head for its subsistence, which is more than even we can
spare. One wonders, remembering these figures, how many millions of feet
of first-class lumber are sacrificed to provide an Indian rancheria in
Oregon with huckleberries.
On the second morning of your voyage you enter the Columbia River, and
stop, on the right bank, near the mouth, at a place famous in history and
romance, and fearfully disappointing to the actual view--Astoria. When
you have seen it, you will wish you had passed it by unseen. I do not
know precisely how it ought to have looked to have pleased my fancy, and
realized the dreams of my boyhood, when I read Bonneville's "Journal" and
Irving's "Astoria," and imagined Astoria to be the home of romance and of
picturesque trappers. Any thing less romantic than Astoria is to-day you
can scarcely imagine; and what is worse yet, your first view shows you
that the narrow, broken, irreclaimably rough strip of land never had space
for any thing picturesque or romantic.
Astoria, in truth, consists of a very narrow strip of hill-side, backed by
a hill so steep that they can shoot timber down it, and inclosed on every
side by dense forests, high, steep hills, and mud flats. It looks like
the rudest Western clearing you ever saw. Its brief streets are paved with
wood; its inhabitants wear their trowsers in their boots; if you step off
the pavement you go deep into the mud; and ten minutes' walk brings you
to the "forest primeval," which, picturesque as it may be in poetry, I
confess to be dreary and monotonous in the extreme in reality.
There are but few remains of the old trapper station--one somewhat large
house is the chief relic; but there is a saw-mill, which seems to make,
with all its buzz and fuzz, scarcely an appreciable impression upon the
belt of timber which so shuts in Astoria that I thought I had scarcely
room in it to draw a full breath; and over to the left they pointed out
to me the residence of a gentleman--a general, I think he was--who came
hither twenty-six years ago in some official position, and had after a
quarter of a century gained what looked to me from the steamer's deck like
a precarious ten-acre lot from the "forest primeval," about enough room to
bury himself and family in, with a probability that the firs would crowd
them into the Columbia River if the saw-mill should break down.
On the voyage up I said to an Oregonian, "You have a good timber country,
I hear?" and his reply seemed to me at the time extravagant. "Timber?" he
said; "timber--till you can't sleep." When I had spent a day and a half at
anchor abreast of Astoria, the words appeared less exaggerated. Wherever
you look you see only timber; tall firs, straight as an arrow, big as the
California redwoods, and dense as a Southern canebrake. On your right is
Oregon--its hill-sides a forest so dense that jungle would be as fit
a word for it as timber; on the left is Washington Territory, and its
hill-sides are as densely covered as those of the nearer shore. This
interminable, apparently impenetrable, thicket of firs exercised upon my
mind, I confess, a gloomy, depressing influence. The fresh lovely green
of the evergreen foliage, the wonderful arrowy straightness of the trees,
their picturesque attitude where they cover headlands and reach down
to the very water's edge, all did not make up to me for their dreary
continuity of shade.
Astoria, however, means to grow. It has already a large hotel, which the
timber has crowded down against the tide-washed flats; a saw-mill, which
is sawing away for dear life, because if it stopped the forest would
doubtless push it into the river, on whose brink it has courageously
effected a lodgment; some tan-yards, shops, and "groceries;" and if you
should wish to invest in real estate here, you can do so with the help of
a "guide," which is distributed on the steamer, and tells you of numerous
bargains in corner lots, etc.; for here, as in that part of the West which
lies much farther east, people live apparently only to speculate in real
An occasional flash of broad humor enlivens some of the land circulars and
advertisements. I found one on the hotel table headed "Homes," with the
Four miles east of Silverton; frame house and a log house (can
live in either); log barn; 20 acres in cultivation; 60 acres
timber land; balance pasture land; well watered. We will sell
this place for $1575. Will throw in a cook stove and all the
household furniture, consisting of a frying-pan handle and
a broomstick; also a cow and a yearling calf; also one bay
heifer; also 8400 lbs. of hay, minus what the above-named
stock have consumed during the winter; also 64 bushels of
oats, subject to the above-mentioned diminution. If sold,
we shall have left on our hands one of the driest and
ugliest-looking old bachelors this side of the grave, which
we will cheerfully throw in if at all acceptable to the
purchaser. Old maids and rich widows are requested to give
their particular attention to this special offer. Don't pass
by on the other side.
* * * * *
HOME, SWEET HOME!
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like Home!
We still have a few more "Sweet Homes" for sale, consisting
of, etc., etc., etc.
[Illustration: pointing finger] Title perfect--a Warrantee
Deed from the hub of the earth to the top of the skies, and
Uncle Sam's Patent to back us!
A further-reaching title one could scarcely require.
I don't know where I got the belief that the Columbia was a second-rate
river. There must have been some blunder in the geographies out of which I
got my lessons and my notions of the North-west coast at school. Possibly,
too, the knowledge that navigation is interrupted by rapids at the
Cascades and Dalles contributed to form an impression conspicuously wrong.
In fact, the Columbia is one of the great rivers of the world. It seems to
me larger, as it is infinitely grander, than the Mississippi.
Between Astoria and the junction of the Willamette its breadth, its depth,
its rapid current, and the vast body of water it carries to sea reminded
me of descriptions I had read of the Amazon; and I suspect the Columbia
would rank with that stream were it not for the unlucky obstructions at
the Cascades and Dalles, which divide the stream into two unequal parts.
[Illustration: SALEM, CAPITAL OF OREGON.]
For ten miles above Astoria the river is so wide that it forms really a
vast bay. Then it narrows somewhat, and the channel approaches now one
and then the other of its bold, picturesque shores, which often for miles
resemble the Palisades of the Hudson in steepness, and exceed them in
height. But even after it becomes narrower the river frequently widens
into broad, open, lake-like expanses, which are studded with lovely
islands, and wherever the shore lowers you see, beyond, grand mountain
ranges snow-clad and amazingly fine.
The banks are precipitous nearly all the way to the junction of the
Willamette, and there is singularly little farming country on the
immediate river. Below Kalama there are few spots where there is even room
for a small farmstead. But along this part of the river are the "salmon
factories," whence come the Oregon salmon, which, put up in tin cans, are
now to be bought not only in our Eastern States, but all over the world.
The fish are caught in weirs, in gill nets, as shad are caught on the
Hudson, and this is the only part of the labor performed by white men. The
fishermen carry the salmon in boats to the factory--usually a large frame
building erected on piles over the water--and here they fall into the
hands of Chinese, who get for their labor a dollar a day and their food.
The salmon are flung up on a stage, where they lie in heaps of a thousand
at a time, a surprising sight to an Eastern person, for in such a pile
you may see many fish weighing from thirty to sixty pounds. The work
of preparing them for the cans is conducted with exact method and great
cleanliness, water being abundant. One Chinaman seizes a fish and cuts off
his head; the next slashes off the fins and disembowels the fish; it then
falls into a large vat, where the blood soaks out--a salmon bleeds like a
bull--and after soaking and repeated washing in different vats, it falls
at last into the hands of one of a gang of Chinese whose business it is,
with heavy knives, to chop the fish into chunks of suitable size for the
tins. These pieces are plunged into brine, and presently stuffed into the
cans, it being the object to fill each can as full as possible with fish,
the bone being excluded.
The top of the can, which has a small hole pierced in it, is then soldered
on, and five hundred tins set on a form are lowered into a huge kettle of
boiling water, where they remain until the heat has expelled all the air.
Then a Chinaman neatly drops a little solder over each pin-hole, and after
another boiling, the object of which is, I believe, to make sure that the
cans are hermetically sealed, the process is complete, and the salmon are
ready to take a journey longer and more remarkable even than that which
their progenitors took when, seized with the curious rage of spawning,
they ascended the Columbia, to deposit their eggs in its head waters, near
the centre of the continent.
I was assured by the fishermen that the salmon do not decrease in numbers
or in size, yet in this year, 1873, more than two millions of pounds were
put up in tin cans on the Lower Columbia alone, besides fifteen or twenty
thousand barrels of salted salmon.
From Astoria to Portland is a distance of one hundred and ten miles, and
as the current is strong, the steamer requires ten or twelve hours to make
the trip. As you approach the mouth of the Willamette you meet more
arable land, and the shores of this river are generally lower, and often
alluvial, like the Missouri and Mississippi bottoms; and here you find
cattle, sheep, orchards, and fields; and one who is familiar with the
agricultural parts of California notices here signs of a somewhat severer
climate, in more substantial houses; and the evidence of more protracted
rains, in green and luxuriant grasses at a season when the pastures of
California have already begun to turn brown.
Portland is a surprisingly well-built city, with so many large shops, so
many elegant dwellings, and other signs of prosperity, as will make you
credit the assertion of its inhabitants, that it contains more wealth in
proportion to its population than any other town in the United States.
It lies on the right bank of the Willamette, and is the centre of a
large commerce. Its inhabitants seemed to me to have a singular fancy
for plate-glass fronts in their shops and hotels, and even in the private
houses, which led me at first to suppose that there must be a glass
factory near at hand. It is all, I believe, imported.
From Portland, which you can see in a day, and whose most notable sight is
a fine view of Mount Hood, obtainable from the hills back of the city, the
sight-seer makes his excursions conveniently in various directions; and
as the American traveler is always in a hurry, it is perhaps well to show
what time is needed:
To the Dalles and Celilo, and return to Portland, three days.
To Victoria, Vancouver's Island, and return to Portland, including the
tour of Puget Sound, seven days.
To San Francisco, overland, by railroad to Roseburg, thence by stage to
Redding, and rail to San Francisco, seventy-nine hours.
[Illustration: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON TERRITORY.]
Thus you may leave San Francisco by steamer for Portland, see the Dalles,
the Cascades, Puget Sound, Victoria, the Willamette Valley, and the
magnificent mountain scenery of Southern Oregon and Northern California,
and be back in San Francisco in less than three weeks, making abundant
allowance for possible though not probable detentions on the road. The
time absolutely needed for the tour is but seventeen days.
Of course he who "takes a run over to California" from, the East,
predetermined to be back in his office or shop within five or six weeks
from the day he left home, can not see the Columbia River and Puget Sound.
But travelers are beginning to discover that it is worth while to spend
some months on the Pacific coast; some day, I do not doubt, it will be
fashionable to go across the continent; and those whose circumstances
give them leisure should not leave the Pacific without seeing Oregon and
Washington Territory. In the few pages which follow, my aim is to smooth
the way for others by a very simple account of what I myself saw and
[Illustration: VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA.]
And first as to the Cascades and the Dalles of the Columbia. You leave
Portland for Dalles City in a steamboat at five o'clock in the morning.
The better way is to sleep on board this steamer, and thus avoid an
uncomfortably early awakening. Then when you do rise, at six or half past,
you will find yourself on the Columbia, and steaming directly at Mount
Hood, whose splendid snow-covered peak seems to bar your way but a short
distance ahead. It lies, in fact, a hundred miles off; and when you have
sailed some hours toward it the river makes a turn, which leaves the snowy
peak at one side, and presently hides it behind the steep bank.
The little steamer, very clean and comfortable, affords you an excellent
breakfast, and some amusement in the odd way in which she is managed. Most
of the river steamers here have their propelling wheel at the stern; they
have very powerful engines, which drive them ahead with surprising speed.
I have gone sixteen miles an hour in one, with the current; and when they
make a landing the pilot usually runs the boat's head slantingly against
the shore, and passengers and freight are taken in or landed over the
bow. At the wood-pile on the shore you may generally see one of the people
called "Pikes," whom you will recognize by a very broad-brimmed hat, a
frequent squirting of tobacco-juice, and the possession of two or three
hounds, whom they call hereabouts "hound-dogs," as we say "bull-dog." And
this reminds me that in Oregon the country people usually ask you if you
will eat an "egg-omelet;" and they speak of pork--a favorite food of the
The voyage up the river presents a constant succession of wild and
picturesque scenery; immense rocky capes jut out into the broad stream;
for miles the banks are precipitous, like the Hudson River Palisades, only
often much higher, and for other miles the river has worn its channel out
of the rock, whose face looks bare and clean cut, as though it had been
of human workmanship. The first explorer of the Columbia, even if he was
a very commonplace mortal, must have passed days of the most singular
exhilaration, especially if he ascended the stream in that season when the
skies are bright and blue, for it seems to me one of the most magnificent
sights in the world. I am not certain that the wildness does not oppress
one a little after a while, and there are parts of the river where the
smoothly cut cliffs, coming precipitously down to the water's edge, and
following down, sheer down, to the river's bottom, make you think with
terror of the unhappy people who might here be drowned, with this cold
rock within their reach, yet not affording them even a momentary support.
I should like to have seen the rugged cliffs relieved here and there by
the softness of smooth lawns, and some evidences that man had conquered
even this rude and resisting nature.
But for a century or two to come the traveler will have to do without
this relief; nor need he grumble, for, with all its rugged grandeur, the
scenery has many exquisite bits where nature has a little softened its
aspect. Nor is it amiss to remember that but a little way back from the
river there are farms, orchards, cattle, and sheep. At one point the boat
for a moment turned her bow to the shore to admit a young man, who brought
with him a wonderful bouquet of wild flowers, which he had gathered at
his home a few miles back; and here and there, where the hill-sides have a
more moderate incline, you will see that some energetic pioneer has carved
himself out a farm.
Nevertheless it is with a sense of relief at the change that you at last
approach a large island, a flat space of ten or twelve hundred acres,
with fences and trees and grain fields and houses, and with a gentle and
peaceful aspect, doubly charming to you when you come upon it suddenly,
and fresh from the preceding and somewhat appalling grandeur. Here the
boat stops; for you are here at the lower end of the famous Cascades,
and you tranship yourself into cars which carry you to the upper end, a
distance of about six miles, where again you take boat for Dalles City.
[Illustration: MAP OF PUGET SOUND AND VICINITY.]
The Cascades are rapids. The river, which has ever a swift and impetuous
current, is nearly two miles wide just above these rapids. Where the bed
shoals it also narrows, and the great body of water rushes over the rocks,
roaring, tumbling, foaming--a tolerably wild sight. There is nowhere any
sudden descent sufficient to make a water-fall; but there is a fall of a
good many feet in the six miles of cascades.
These rapids are considered impassable, though I believe the Indians used
sometimes to venture down them in canoes; and it was my good fortune to
shoot down them in a little steamer--the _Shoshone_--the third only, I was
told, which had ever ventured this passage. The singular history of this
steamboat shows the vast extent of the inland navigation made possible
by the Columbia and its tributaries. She was built in 1866 on the Snake
River, at a point ninety miles from Boise City, in Idaho Territory, and
was employed in the upper waters of the Snake, running to near the mouth
of the Bruneau, within one hundred and twenty-five miles of the head of
When the mining excitement in that region subsided there ceased to be
business for her, and her owner determined to bring her to Portland. She
passed several rapids on the Snake, and at a low stage of water was run
over the Dalles. Then she had to wait nearly a year until high water on
the Cascades, and finally passed those rapids, and carried her owner, Mr.
Ainsworth, who was also for this passage of the Cascades her pilot, and
myself safely into Portland.
We steamed from Dalles City about three o'clock on an afternoon so windy
as to make the Columbia very rough. When we arrived at the head of the
Cascades we found the shore lined with people to watch our passage through
the rapids. As we swept into the foaming and roaring waters the engine was
slowed a little, and for a few minutes the pilots had their hands full;
for the fierce currents, sweeping her now to one side and then to the
other, made the steering extraordinarily difficult. At one point there
seemed a probability that we should be swept on to the rocks; and it was
very curious to stand, as General Sprague and I, the only passengers, did,
in front of the pilot-house, and watch the boat's head swing against the
helm and toward the rocks, until at last, after half a minute of suspense,
she began slowly to swing back, obedient to her pilot's wish.
We made six miles in eleven minutes, which is at the rate of more than
thirty miles per hour, a better rate of speed than steamboats commonly
attain. Of course it is impossible to drive a vessel up the Cascades, and
a steamboat which has once passed these rapids remains forever below.
At the upper end of the Cascades a boat awaits you, which carries you
through yet more picturesque scenery to Dalles City, where you spend the
Back to Full Books