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

Monday, 29th September 1890

Got up before 5 o'clock. The men took their last bath before breakfast. It was all hurry and bustle this morning, pulling down tents, rolling up beds, and packing boxes, rolling up ropes &c.

Miss Cooper and I took a walk to the spring, got a drink, and brought 2 kegs full of the hot water to take with us. It was kind of sad to tear up our home, but we are all glad to be traveling towards Horse Shoe Park again.

We found a different way to get out than the one we came in. It was a few miles further round, but we missed the big hill, which was a great relief. Stopped a short time at Mr. Cuisack's ranch. This is where the horses were pastured while we stayed at the springs. There is a P. O. here. The people are Irish from county Mayo and were kind to us and gave us cabbage, potatoes and tomatoes with us.

We were traveling down Owl Creek today and at a crossing to it, 2 little children on horse back came in from another direction. They were quite close to us for several minutes. The little fellow didn't look near us, but kept his face turned the other way. But we could see the side of his face. He was so bashful he didn't know what to do. He had his arms around his little sister and was holding tightly with his little legs, too. She was a good rider and was on bareback sideways, and I should think she was only about 8 years old.

Tuesday, 30th September 1890

We left the Big Horn river and have traveled 25 miles. Had the pleasure of seeing 2 of our old camping grounds.

We remark the great change in the trees and shrubbery along the creek. The leaves are turned yellow and falling off, and it just seems to us like we had slept a long time, as it were, from spring to autumn. Passed 2 wagons, people of Owl Creek coming home with their winter's provisions from Casper. This is the last night of Sept. and it is so nice, warm and calm. We prefer to sleep outside. We were just saying nobody will believe us when we say we are quite comfortable undressing in the open air. We have been so much accustomed to living in the open air of late, we wouldn't have room to breathe or move indoors. It is so warm tonight.

Wednesday, 1st October 1890

Got up early and had breakfast before sunup and got started on our way between 6 and 7 o'clock. It was cloudy and we thought a snow storm was at hand. We had not left camp half an hour when it commenced raining. But it only drizzled about 2 hours and then cleared up.

Crossed the Big Horn mountains and down into the valley where the Long family live. The roundups were camped at Mr. Long's fence.

We had a very pleasant time here. The whole family came down and ate a camp supper with us. Mrs. Long brought a dish of eggs and a plate of butter with her, Miss Long a pot of boiled beef and dumplings, Young Mr. Long a quarter of a yearling, Old Mr. Long some new milk right from the cow. The youngest boy was very anxious to learn to shoot, so David gave him a gun and he shot 4 wild ducks for us. I never saw as kind a family and seemingly a very happy family too.

While cooking supper it commenced thundering and we had just got the tent up and the victuals and dishes into it, when it commenced raining with all force. But it only lasted a few minutes, then cleared up and was a nice night. I think if father could have looked in the tent door and saw the 12 of us setting, laughing and talking and eating, each one with a tin plate on his lap, he would have said "La La, but that is a rough crowd." After supper we all went to Mr. Long's house and had lots of music, singing and even some dancing.

Thursday, 2nd October 1890

A bright morning, quite a sharp air. Camped for dinner at Lost Cabin. While eating dinner a sand storm came up, just as thick as a heavy snow storm, and filled our food with sand and sagebrush. But evidently these have good medicinal qualities, as we have been used to getting them occasionally of late and certainly are thriving.

Friday, 3rd October 1890

Today has been cold and blowy all day. It is a bare bleak place we are camped tonight, and we made the coffee and steak supper.

Saturday, 4th October 1890

This morning was calm and warmer. For the last 2 days we had been looking forward to the nice time we would have at Uncle Mac's. Well, we got to Uncle Mac's at noon. This is a cattle ranch and like all other cattle ranches well frequented by travelers. Uncle Mac told us to turn ourselves loose in the kitchen and get dinner. He had 2 men besides himself for dinner, and we cooked some things for us all. After dinner we cooked some things for the rest of our journey. I roasted and boiled some beef, Miss Cooper baked some bread and Maggie and Sarah fried a large dish pan of doughnuts. I think this will last us till we get home. After supper the men went into the sitting room and Uncle Mac stayed a little while with us in the kitchen and gave us a brief history of his life. He tried to tell us about the war, but it was very hard on him. He said it was a part of his life he didn't care to talk about.

He is well thought of by all the boys and it is a home for them to get to Uncle Mac's. There is a young man here now who got accidentally shot with his own pistol. He applied for help at a ranch 7 miles from this place. They wouldn't do anything for him, but told him he had better go back to Casper and get a Dr. to fix it. Although he had a team and wagon heavily loaded, he said he would drive on to Uncle Mac's and he wouldn't fail to fix it.  His leg was in a bad state when he got here, but under Uncle Mac's tender care he is recovering rapidly.

Uncle Mac has a flock of young chickens, every one pure white, and 7 cats, one of them being the largest I have ever seen, and of a yellow color.

All the rooms in this house are large. The kitchen is a fine big one, with a long narrow dining table at one side of it. Miss Cooper and I are writing on it. For light we have a tall lamp which gives splendid light.

Sunday, 5th October 1890

We felt sad at parting with Uncle Mac this morning. He won't be easily forgot by any of our party. We promised to write to him, and said goodbye.

We came to Casper a different road than the one we want. Uncle Mac said we had better go this way and see the oil spring. This is another wonderful sight, the oil coming up out of the ground, same as a spring of water. It was thick and of a dark brown color.

The country around here is studded over with cabin dugouts and holes where some prospectors have been digging in search of oil.

Passed the young town of Bessemer. It is situated in the Platte Valley, at the end of the Casper Mountains.

Saw the Goose Egg Ranch. The house is a fine large stone building in the suburbs of Bessemer. This is another of Judge Carey's ranches. 15 more miles and we were in Casper again, and are camped by the river among trees. It is blowing and raining.

Monday, 6th October 1890

We thought last night we would wake up to find a fall of snow, or at least a wet morning, but instead, it was calm, bright and warm.

Our ride was pleasant down the Platte Valley. Stopped an hour in Glen-Rock to buy some things. We all got weighed. David gained 5 lbs, Miss Cooper 12, Maggie 7, Sarah 4, Sissy 5 and myself 3. Mr. Barnes lost a lb.

We are camped tonight beside a beautiful ranch. Another of Carey's on Box Elder Creek. 2 of the men from this ranch have come down to the camp. It is a nice evening and warm, and to save time in the morning, we didn't set up the tent. The old cows are coming near us in search of hay and I am wondering if they won't walk over us during the night.

Tuesday, 7th October 1890

Well, the old cows didn't harm us. Slept sound and rose refreshed. Were wakened by the boys of the S O Ranch whistling, singing and running in some horses.

Mr. Barnes brought us a near way home and by making a big day's drive, we got to his place a little after sunset. We ate dinner on La Prele Creek beside a grove of thorn bushes. These grow from 8 to 10 feet high and have a thorn about half a finger length long. The fruit is called black haws. It has a peculiar, nice flavor and very sweet. It is shaped like the red haw at home, but is much larger. We ate all we could and brought some home.

I was surprised to see so many large thriving ranches on this creek. When we got up on the divide and looked down in the valley, we counted 6 ranches and good buildings on all of them.

There are 2 fine school houses on the Creek. We saw one of them. Miss Cooper taught a term here. She says it is well finished inside, has a new style of bought desks, an organ and a library. The other one further down the creek is a larger building and is equally as well furnished.

Came through Poison Lake Valley. It is about 5 miles long and half a mile wide, with abrupt hills at each side. Owing to the immense cattle that were poisoned by the lake, the cattlemen have fenced it. Miss Cooper passed the lake in June and it was dry then. Now it is full of water and still there has been no rain to speak of except a few showers.

Mr. Howe and family, who have been living with Mr. Barnes the last year, have rented the Horse Shoe place from David and we expected they would be moved down to Horse Shoe. But we were very glad to find them still at Mr. Barnes' place. They were all ready to go to a dance but didn't go when we came. We entertained them with an account of our travels.

Wednesday, 8th October 1890

Every night we expect to find it storming when we wake. But morning comes brighter than the day before and this is our last day.

We left Mr. Barnes' place at 10 o'clock and got to Mr. Cooper's for dinner. They were very glad to see us all home again, safe and well and all improved. Mrs. Cooper was commencing to prepare for us, but we saved her the bother, coming home two days sooner than she expected.

Got home a little before sunset and found little David well and everything all right. George having gone to Horse Shoe to help Bobby, Mr. Martin was staying with David and was well pleased to find he had just baked a pan of bread and had some vegetables boiled.

Mrs. Cooper gave me a piece of butter to do till I would get some made, so this made our homecoming more cheerful, when we had something ready to eat.


On looking back on our journey, we have every reason to be thankful. It was quite a long trip and a risky one, too, but we had no accidents. Everything went in harmony and seemed to favor us. Everybody we came in contact with was particularly obliging and kind.

The weather: It was all that could be desired and was exceptionally good for the time of year. What rough weather did come we were just a little ahead of it. The day we started for the springs was damp, dull and wet, but it soon cleared up. And the night after we crossed the Big Horn mountains it snowed 2 or 3 inches. Then the night after crossing over them coming home we heard it had snowed 6 inches. And the night after we got home there was quite a fall of snow. Nor did it clear up till the afternoon of the next day.

The vast desert that I have spoken of that we traveled through on our way, which appeared to us utterly worthless. On our return home we found by making inquiries that it will probably be one of the wealthiest parts of Wyoming. It is immensely rich in minerals and oil. There has been gold, silver, tin and coal discovered in this region. But the most valuable discovery is that of the oil. We filled a big jar of the oil as it was oozing out of the earth and brought it home with us. In its rude or raw state it is not fit to burn. But it makes excellent oil for machinery. It looks something like tar, but not so thick.

Then there are soda lakes some 20 miles from the F L Ranch where soda can be got almost pure. Bread can be baked with it. Uncle Mac uses this soda to soften the water for washing clothes, dishes, &c.

The main object of our trip was for the benefit of our health and it did far more for us in this way than we expected. Our time was too short at the springs. If we had stayed 3 months instead of 3 weeks, we would have been well paid by the results.

We would have stayed longer had it not been so late in the season, but were afraid of being snowed in. On the range of mountains we had to cross, the snow falls early and lies all winter.

There are many things I might have written that I have omitted, but this may be of some interest to those who have never visited the Far West.

Mary Ferguson 

Douglas, Wyoming 

U. S. 


In reading this over I find I have forgotten to tell you a good many things I would have wished.

Our only misfortune was we expected to see lots of Indians. But although so long on their own lands, we didn't see one. In fact, I have never seen an Indian yet.

I have omitted to tell you of the different samples of sulphur, alum, soda, and acids of different kinds &c, we brought home with us. We filled several tomato cans with these. The alum is so pure you wouldn't know to taste it but that it had been bought in a drug store. The sulphur was so pure it burned when lighted with a match. The soda was also pure. Some of the acids tasted like citric acid and would make a nice drink.

The funniest part of it was when David went to fill some cans. He thought it would be easier to sit while filling them and so when he came to camp, the acids had eaten the seat out of his pants.

M. F.

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

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