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1890 TRIP TO HOT SPRINGS

On the North East Corner of the Shoshone Indian Reservation, Fremont County, Wyoming

By Mary Ferguson

Copy housed in the Wyoming Room at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library

Monday, 25th August 1890

We are a party from Laramie Peak country, and are seven in number: Mr. Gordon and his three daughters, Maggie, Sarah and Martha, Mr. Barnes, Miss Cooper and myself.

We left the Gordon ranch at 2 o'clock P. M. on Monday 25th August 1890. Called at the Cooper ranch for Miss Cooper. After packing and fixing things for an hour, we said Good Bye, and started off again.

On our way to Mr. Barnes's place we stopped at the Saw Mill to get some oats for the horses. Couldn't get any oats. It was a damp dull afternoon when we started, but ere we reached Mr. Barnes's the sun came out bright and warm, which made everything look so fresh and clear after the rain.

Arrived at Mr. Barnes's ranch about supper time where we partook of the following: potatoes, cold boiled ham, brown bread, light bread, apricots, cookies, raisin layer cake, & etc. In the evening we had apples, in the morning candy and gum. To get used to camping out, Miss Cooper and I slept outside. The air being cold and bracing, we never wakened till morning when we found ourselves quite refreshed.

Tuesday, 26th August 1890

The men having arranged to their satisfaction, saws, axes, hammers, ropes, spades, nails, wire, guns, pistols, ammunition, snake medicine (whiskey) etc., we left Mr. Barnes's ranch at 9 o'clock A. M. It was a bright warm morning, and we have a very comfortable seat, a cover over top of the wagon to shade the sun, the sides we can open when warm, or close when cold. Camped for dinner at Mr. Robins' ranch. The door was locked, but some of the party got in by the window, and got a map he had of the country we are going to travel through. Made a camp fire, had dinner, fed and rested the horses. Met Mr. Robins coming from Douglas at sunset. Pitched the tent on the bank of the Platte River, and got supper.

David went up to the town to get some provisions for the journey, while we sat around the camp fire. Mr. and Mrs. Homer, who were expecting us, drove down from town to see if we had arrived. When David got back, among the things he had bought was a lantern. But when trying to light it we discovered it had no wick, so Mr. Hymer drove to town, got a wick, and was back in a few minutes. We had a pleasant evening, a beautiful moonlight night, and retired about 10 o'clock.

Wednesday, 27th August 1890

After breakfast we climbed into the wagon; got our sewing out of the trunk and worked for an hour on it. We got a bolt of dark blue calico, and each one is going to have a blouse waist and full skirt. I mean the women folks of us. We didn't have time to finish them before leaving home, so have to sew a little on the way. 10 o'clock A. M. went up to the town. Left Maggie, Sarah, and Martha at Mrs. Hymer's to finish some sewing on her machine, while Miss Cooper and I went out to purchase some things we required on the way. There are so many things to get, fix, and see to, and we want to be well prepared for the journey, that we didn't move camp today. In the evening we had a visit from Mrs. Hymer and her daughter.

Thursday, 28th August 1890

Traveled nine miles through a bare, barren, dry country. Very little grass and no trees except a few here and there along the banks of the Platte River. Here we crossed La Prele Creek and had a view of Fort Fetterman. This old Fort was established in 1870 when the Indians were thick in this country. I thought while gazing at the remains of it, what hard scenes had happened there, and I am sure some cruel fights and deaths with the Indians. There are several good houses standing yet, and some occupied. The country began to look better, by degrees, as we rode along. Better feed and more trees on the river, but the houses were poor, and few of them. We traveled 30 miles today and only passed one good ranch on Box Elder Creek. It was one of the many desert claims of Judge Carey's.

Our road wound through the valley of the Platte River, sometimes quite near the river. Passed an outfit with five wagons. We learned they had traveled from Kansas and were going to Oregon. On one of their wagons were printed in quite large letters "In God We Trusted, In Kansas we Busted," but they seemed very happy and contented.

Next we passed a place called Inez. It has quite a reputation as a coal district, although there are only a few houses a short distance from the railroad. Here a roundup outfit passed us, consisting of 2 grub-wagons and 2 bed wagons, a herd of cowboys, and a bunch of horses, galloping you would have thought for their life. Passed through the new town of Glen-Rock, a pretty place, situated on Deer Creek, where it empties into the Platte. Most of the houses are built of logs. We are camped a mile from Glen_Rock. Have got supper, and now Miss Cooper and I are writing in the tent.

Friday, 29th August 1890

Wakened shortly after sunrise with the noise of roundup wagons, cowboys, and horses. Then had got breakfast and traveled about two miles.

Passed a flock of sheep about a mile from camp. The shepherds were watering them in the river. One of the men said there were 7,000 sheep in the flock. He had one angora goat. It was much larger than the common goat, had long white shiny wool, and long horns turned back. I believe it is necessary to have one or two of these among the sheep, to keep coyotes, wildcats, &c. from making raids on them. We stopped a short time on our way to gather some bull-berries to eat. They are a little red berry and taste very much like a lemon. Next place of importance was Stroude Station and the Stroude ranch. I saw they had a good garden and comfortable buildings, but outside of that, was bare and dried up looking. Found some more berries. This time we stopped and picked some, ate all we wanted, and have several quarts more in a pail. They are nice to eat with sugar, or made into jelly. We camped an hour before sunset in a beautiful place, among trees and near the river, a quarter of a mile from a town called Casper. This is the nicest place we have seen since leaving home. There is a large grove of bull-berry trees here heavily loaded with fruit.

While we cooked supper, the men went to town to get a new supply of grain for the horses. Two men passed the wagons while I was getting some things out for supper. One of them stopped, and in western fashion, asked if we were going west. I told him we were going up to the Hot Spring on the Indian Reservation. I had quite a chat with him, about the country around here. The town is called after old Fort Casper west of the town. This Fort was established about '48 and abandoned about '80 or '81. First of all the Fort was built 2 or 3 miles east of Casper, but one day, while most of the soldiers were gone after wood, a band of Indians came over the bluffs east of the Fort and set fire to it. The majority of the soldiers escaped but several were killed.

Here is the end of the North Western railway track. Gold and silver has been found in large quantities in this vicinity and it is expected these mines will be developed at some time not so far distant. Also oil, coal & soda, are found in abundance.

We all think Casper has a nice location for a town, and with all these resources, no doubt but it will be a prosperous place in time. When the men came back we had supper ready. No oats being in town till tomorrow night, we can't leave for a day or more. We drove into Casper and have the wagons and tent in a corral. The horses are in another corral, beside us. The men are gone to hear Ex-Governor Hoyt lecture. Will stop tonight, perhaps will be able to say more about this place tomorrow.

Saturday, 30th August 1890

In the forenoon we washed some things, baked and sewed. I tried to boil some cabbage but the wind blew, and I fear we had some sand &c. as well as cabbage, but we don't notice this. Our appetites are so ravenous we can eat most anything. Spent a long time at dinner and talked politics. In the afternoon Miss Cooper and I took a walk through the town and got some things we hadn't thought of while in Douglas. We like the people here, and the shops seem to be so orderly and tidy. Altogether the town has a nice appearance. It is built on an elevated level flat. In the evening we all went to hear Ex-Governor Baxter lecture. But Mr. Barnes, his rheumatism was bothering him, so he stayed in camp, and baked some bread I had ready for the oven. Got back from the meeting at half-past nine, talked, laughed and then retired.

Sunday, 31st August 1890

Mr. Barnes and David having made inquiries as to the road, feed, water, &c, we learn there is no feed for horses, water not good and far apart. Mr. Mitchell gave David a small barrel with a fosset on it. They have wired it on to the side of the wagon. We can carry enough in this to last 3 or 4 days but I don't expect we will need to carry it more than 2 days till we get enough water to fill it again. There are 2 hot springs on the Indian Reservation. The Indians don't bother the springs we are going to. They have never been known to be so far north of their land, but Chief Washikee reserves the other springs for his squaws and people. And we have just heard that Red Cloud, an Indian Chief from a reservation in Nebraska, has passed through Casper on his way to Chief Washikee's Hot Springs to bathe, and also visit. I believe the different tribes visit each other occasionally.

It was blowing this morning so we couldn't light a fire, just ate our breakfast of crackers and tomatoes in the tent. A mile from Casper, we crossed the Platte River on a bridge about 80 perches long. Just then we had a good view of where Fort Casper used to be, but at present there are only a few buildings, and those buildings and the surroundings are another of Judge Carey's many ranches. We traveled through a perfect desert for about ten miles, but we had a view of the Casper mountains in the distance, which broke the monotony of the scenery a little. Camped for an early dinner on a level prairie. The wind has ceased. After such a slim breakfast we could hardly wait till we got a meal ready, and then hadn't time to sit down for eating. Here a man passed driving a 4 horse team and wagon. He told us there was a stage station 5 miles ahead of us and we could get water there. It was exciting to see a house, and so we kept anxious watch as we neared the place. It was a very simple building, one end being used as a stable, the other for the family which was only one man as far as we could see. Camped for the night in a kind of a weird, lonely place, with bluffs, rocks and gulches all around us. We baked light bread in a Dutch oven, or oven pot as it is called at home. It was the first I had seen done here in this way.

Monday, 1st September 1890

I was so sleepy this morning that Mr. Barnes had kindled the fire twice, then he and David had gone after sage hens. Just as I came out of the tent door, they were coming in with 4 sage hens and 3 rabbits. Well, the fire was to kindle for the third time and the 2 hunters cleaned their game, while I made breakfast, and the girls rolled up the beds. After 3 or 4 miles on our journey today, we passed another stage-station. We saw a woman here.

Camped outside the fence of the F L Ranch for dinner. The man in charge of this place came down and ate a camp dinner with us. He was respectable and fatherly looking, tall, and well proportioned, small hands and feet, a very gentlemanly appearing man with a long grey beard, and a big kind heart. His name is James MacClelland, but he says he is known by Uncle Mac, and everybody calls him Uncle Mac. He is a Scotch man and raised 19 children. He invited us very strongly and seemed displeased if we would not comply to go to the house and stay over night. But as we wanted to persevere on to the Hot Springs, we said we would wait till we come back. He said us woman folks could have a room all by ourselves, and that he liked to see woman folks call. Then he told us about his large family. He and six of his sons went to the Battle of the Wilderness. The six sons were slain and he was left standing. He couldn't go much further, so walked away with David. But after talking with him a few minutes he broke down altogether, and rode off at a quick pace.

We got our little barrel and also 3 kegs filled with drinking water here. We can't get any more until we reach the Lost Cabin, 60 miles from the F L ranch, but we can get alkali water for the horses, dishes &c. Saw 16 antelope today, but they were too far away to shoot at them. Miss Cooper carries a small pistol and was talking about practicing on the first sage hens she could see. All at once the wagons stop, without any cause that we could see, and here comes Mr. Barnes with the gun to Miss Cooper to shoot sage-hens. But he came so suddenly and unexpected her nerves were so shaken she said she had better not try. While some bull-berries are being boiled into preserves, we are all gathered around the camp fire. Miss Cooper and I are writing.

Tuesday, 2nd September 1890

This morning was quite cold till 10 o'clock. One man on horse back passed us and told us we were 10 miles from water and after that there would be none for 35 miles.

Camped here at noon on Poison Creek and will pull out early tomorrow. Traveled 15 miles today and didn't see a house and only one man, till we were cooking supper tonight. An old man with a blue veil came for water and said he was camped over the hill. "O," he said, "you are prepared for traveling. My home is in the state of Ohio. I came out to see my daughter and her husband. I didn't know there was such a country in Wyoming. I wouldn't travel over it again for the whole business and truly it is the most desolate and barren looking country I have ever seen, or wish to see."

I think it must be almost as bad as the great desert of Africa, but strange to say neither one of us cared to hear the old man with the blue veil talk so lightly of Wyoming. While we were eating supper a flock of sage-hens between 30 and 40 came near our camp and walked around till they got a drink at the creek, then they all few off I suppose to roost for the night. They are very much like a turkey and a little larger than a common sized hen, are of a grey color, and every good eating. Saw some deer and a buffalo wolf. Mr. Barnes shot 3 rabbits and a wild duck.

Wednesday, 3rd September 1890

After traveling through a land of desolation for three days we have found the Lost Cabin at sunset. I think the words of Scripture are truly verified in that piece of country we have just traveled through where it speaks of the abomination of desolation. We haven't seen a tree except a few pine ones at a distance since Monday till tonight. There is a road ranch saloon and P. O. by the name of Lost Cabin here. At an early day a party of miners found some valuable mines near here but were either killed by the Indians or got lost. They had a cabin built, and so the mines were called the Lost Cabin mines and this place still retains that name.

There is a nice green meadow before the house here and good water. It seems a nice valley or an oasis in a desert, but so far away from a railway or neighbors. I think it surely is an unpleasant place to live.

A little girl from the house came to our camp. It was quite amusing to hear her talk, as she couldn't speak very plain. So the girls got her to repeating our names. Mr. Barnes being kind of bashful, they asked her to kiss him, which she did. Then they wanted her to kiss him again. It was very funny to see her following him around where he was pegging down the tent and saying "kiss me some more, Tom Burnes," as she called him. But Mr. Barnes objected as best he could, while we stood laughing, and the little girl looked surprised and ashamed with her finger in her mouth.

The party that camped near us last night are camped a few perches from us tonight.

Thursday, 4th September 1890

It was cold this morning and on a little water we left in a pail there was a thin sheet of ice.

The old man with the blue veil got up this morning. He dusted his bed with his handkerchief and folded it up very neatly. As he passed our tent he said he would spread his bed on the sand next time so it would be a little soft. The girls were picking some bull-berries off a tree. He asked them what they called those berries. They told him and said they were very nice to eat so he tried the eating of some, but there was too much acid in them for him. "O my." he says, with his face all twisted, "sour as gooseberries, worse than cranberries." He observed a little robin on a tree. "William" or Willyum as he called his son-in-law, "what do you suppose that bird is going to do." Wm. said we have lots of those birds in this country. "But," persisted the old man, "what do you suppose it's going to do." Wm. didn't say much, but walked on. I think Wm. will have plenty of company while the old man with the blue veil stays with him.

Our scenery was more diversified today. We saw at a distance the snowy range, or the main chain of the Rocky Mountains. They were covered with snow, same as in winter. I think we have seen every shape and color of bluffs and hills. The oddest shaped formations you could imagine and such a variety of colors. One of these in particular we remarked. It was all white and looked smooth as glass. It seemed about square and sitting out from the other bluffs, on a level bottom.

We have traveled up a valley with bluffs on each side and a creek called Bridger winding through it. Have camped tonight on the head of Bridger, on a nice ranch owned by Mr. Long. They seem to be an industrious family. This place looks well and is refreshing to the eye after the country we have been looking at for some days.

Mr. Long came down and invited us to the house to spend the evening. Well, after supper we went to Mr. Long's and enjoyed our visit very much. They had 4 musical instruments. Miss Long played the organ and her little brother helped her to sing. Miss Cooper played a few pieces and wound up by singing "Auld Lang Syne." Miss Cooper can play and sing this as well as any Scotch girl.

Friday, 5th September 1890

A nice morning. Crossed the Big Horn mountains. For the last 5 or 6 miles, it was good level road, and along a valley with Kirby Creek running through it. The Creek is dry where we are camped.

Saturday, 6th September 1890

There was a heavy shower of rain last night about 12 o'clock and it has kept drizzling since this morning; was wet and disagreeable. The horses having grazed off quite a distance, David was in despair; thought the Indians had taken them. People tell us this is the only harm the Indians will do us, drive our horses away and then come with an air of innocence and say they will find them or tell you where they are, for some trifle of a reward. From what we heard at Mr. Long's, and after talking it over, we did think the Indians had taken them when we saw Mr. Barnes and the horses appearing over the bluffs (or knowls). The Indians had been at Mr. Long's just a few days before us, a-begging. People say they are terrible beggars, and the more a person would give them the more they would ask and want. We are nearing the Reservation and for my part I am just a little bit afraid of meeting a lot of Indians. Besides we heard the Indians are out hunting now, so we are liable to meet with them at any time.

Sat around the stove in the tent, talking, reading, &c. till near noon, when it cleared up. We ate a hasty dinner and started off again. Had not gone more than a mile when we found water for the horses. It was a beautiful afternoon and we traveled about 15 miles, yet found no water. Still this is a nice creek and it seems very strange there is no water in it only some places. It has quite large rich looking bottoms. In some places the creek is wide, other places and as a rule, it is narrow and the banks steep and lined with large cottonwood trees.

We are camped tonight in a beautiful nook or bend in the creek, among the trees.

Sunday, 7th September 1890

Reached the Hot Springs this afternoon at 5 o'clock safely. It was a beautiful place where we camped last night but if we hadn't been on a pleasure trip, we would have been discouraged. As it was we were just a little, but neither one said much about it. We had no water for the horses and didn't know when we could get any, nor didn't know exactly where we were or rather if we were on the right road. The scene changed altogether this morning. We had only traveled between 2 and 3 miles when we came in sight of a beautiful country, a large level flat with trees growing here and there all over it and the Big Horn river winding through it. Also 4 ranches in sight. Still we didn't know where we were. But it was a consolation to see the ranches and water. We stopped at the nearest one. No one being there, the men unhitched the teams. Mr. Barnes saddled one of the horses and rode to another ranch to inquire where we were. The folks laughed when he said he was glad to see somebody, and asked them to tell him where he was. Found the people here very kind and obliging, and they told us we were only 4 miles from the springs, but there is a long steep hill we have to go up besides crossing the river twice.

While Mr. Barnes was gone, David took a walk along the bank of the river and got acquainted with 2 men he met. One of them said he would pilot us to the springs.

Our guide soon came and crossed the river on horse back ahead of us, the 2 wagons following. Here a party coming home from the Springs passed us. They had a wagon, a buggie and 4 on horse back. It was quite exciting to see us all crossing the river. I can't help thinking I am flying up stream all the time, but I am all right if I keep looking at some object on the other side of the river. When we came to the bottom of the big hill we all got off. The men doubled up the teams and took one wagon at a time. Our guide sat on the wagon, drove the wheelers and worked the brake. Mr. Barnes walked and drove the leaders. At one place the bend on the hill was so short, they had to take the leaders off. The woman folks of us walked up the hill and gather specimens as we went. The hill is a mile and a half long, and all the way, there is just room enough for a wagon. Some parts of it along a side hill with a great gulch at the other side, then winding through between steep bluffs or rather mountains where the wagons almost touched the sides of them. Then again the road would go up a ridge, with a precipice at each side of it. We had half a mile of a level road and at a sudden bend we had a view of the Springs steaming away up into the air. We drove across the ditch of hot water. Our guide could hardly get his horse across, and the teams snorted and danced through it.

We camped on the other side of the spring about 400 yards. Our guide and another man ate supper with us. After supper we all went up to see the bath house, and feel how hot the water was. We didn't go within seven perches of the main spring, but that far from it the water was so hot in the ditch, we could just dip our hands into it, and bring them quickly out again.

Hot Springs, Part 1 Hot Springs, Part 2 Hot Springs, Part 3

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