Back to Gold Rush Letters
July 8, 1849
From letter published in
the Missouri Whig , Palmyra October 4, 1849
LETTER FROM THE SALT
A friend has permitted us to make some extracts from a letter written at the Mormon City, by Mr. John Hazlit, a citizen of our town, who left for California last spring. The writer had been sick with the mountain fever, but had recovered. Mr. Thos. Hart and Mr. Joseph Winlock, of the same company, were slightly unwell when the letter was written. The letter is dated the 8th July, and says: "We are now encamped in the Mormon City, fourteen hundred miles from the States. The city is laid off in very handsome style, and is about five miles square---The inhabitants number five thousand at this time, and are increasing in number every day. They have erected a fort, and are about commencing some fine buildings. The city is watered by two or three fine streams. They have to water their Wheat and corn, and vegetables. They have now fifty thousand acres in wheat. Flour is scarce here: I do not know a single family in the city that has a supply. Every family are desirous to purchase from us, and offer from ten to fifteen cents per pound. ---They do not want money here; they want sugar, coffee, tea and flour. I had my mules shod in the city, and they charged me four dollars per mule. Coffee is selling at 50 cents per pound, and Rice at 25 cents. If you can accomplish the plan of a Rail Road from the States to the Salt Lake City, this will be one of the greatest places of trade in the known world. They have one of the finest woarm springs for bathing, and the most healthy that isknown. There is a boiling spring and a tar spring, and a cold spring also; and salt water in abundance. They have the finest salt here you ever saw; and any amount of saleratus; they gather it up in a pure state, and it makes a splendid bread. the city of the Lake has appropriated $5,000 for the purpose of making a good road from the city to the North Fork of the Platte river, which will be the means of turning a great number of the emigrants in this direction. I find the Mormons very accommodating, and willing to extend to the emigrants all the hospitality they possibly can. We leave Sunday morning for the gold diggings, with a fine prospect before us. One man can raise from fifty to a hundred dollars per day. They are packing dirt from fifteen to twenty miles on mules, from what they call the dry diggings to water. Tell the boys to come on--- this is the only chance they will ever have to get rich. The gold dust is inexhaustible, if the representations here are correct. If we keep our health, we shall be home in eighteen months. I would advise all persons who intend to emigrate to California this summer or next , to start with a light carriage and eight stout mules, from six to ten years old, and enough of provisions to last four men through. Work four mules one day, and four the next, so as to rest them; and by travelling in that way, they can make forty miles per day, and not injure their mules. Start with a very light load; you can make the trip in 55 days.
After coming through the South Pass, the ridge that divides the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific, we had to ferry two streams, south Fork of Platte river, and Green river, A company built a boat on the Platte, and about the time they crossed, Mr. Armstrong, of Monroe, and another company, offered Capt. Finley, the owner of the boat, $250 for the boat. Capt Finley told them that himself and company had crossed, and all others might go to hell; and then cut the boat in pieces before their eyes. This Captain Finley is from Illinois, and the wretch should be published in every newspaper in the U. states. A company from Pennsylvania, the Monroe company, and our company, built a boat, and after our companies crossed, we handed it over to the next train that arrived. This Capt. Finley is well known on the road from the Platte to California and will be pointed out to every company and hissed at.
Transcribed courtesy of Kathleen Wilham