WHILE at the Knoxville, Iowa, Camp meeting, my parents decided to go to California, there to rest and regain their health, which had been rapidly failing for some time. They wished me to go with them, which I was glad to do, although I had intended to return to Battle Creek, and go to school. 

I was then with Elder Littlejohn, who is almost totally deprived of eyesight, leading him, and reading to him, as he attended the western camp meetings. Had we gone directly to San Francisco, Cal., without delay, as we intended at first, it would have taken only six days. But we took the Southern Branch of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific R. R., connecting with the Kansas Pacific, to Denver, Colorado, because we wished to visit friends living on that route.

Through Southern Iowa and Northern Missouri, the spring crops, especially the corn, were late and poor, on account of the heavy rains and the cold weather. After passing through the eastern part of Kansas where the crops are quite late, we enter the Kansas Valley, which contains the finest farming lands we have ever seen. Here the crops look better, the fields well fenced, and the houses comfortably built. But, alas! How soon we leave this fertile valley, and enter the barren plains of Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado. As we advance, the villages are smaller and farther apart, farmhouses and cultivated fields are seldom to be seen, and trees are only found near streams of water, which, in this region, are few and far between.

The greater part of these plains is too dry and barren to produce grain, but affords pasture for great numbers of cattle. Near the villages we have often seen small herds of from fifty to one hundred cattle, each kept by a boy, who, mounted on an Indian pony, watches, or, as it is called, herds them by day, and drives them home at night. But here are large herds, kept by men who live in their covered wagons, and move about from place to place where the grass is best and water is most abundant. 

As we near a small stream, here are quite a number of covered wagons, and at a little distance the plain seems literally alive with cattle. It is estimated by gentlemen on the train that there are five thousand in this herd.

The last town we passed was composed of a water tank, a coal bin, and four or five dugouts, or turf houses. In the town we are just entering, there seem to be eight or ten dugouts, and a five-acre lot, fenced with turf, and planted to vegetables. While the train is waiting, let us look into one of these dugouts, which, like nearly all the rest, is occupied by men who work on the railroad. We pass down six or eight steps cut in the ground, and from the inside can see that the house was built by first digging a cellar-like hole four or five feet deep. Upon the edges of the bank, logs were placed, and upon these, poles were laid for the roof. Then the whole thing was covered with turf, except the doorway, and a small window cut through the logs, which support the roof. This house is furnished with a rough board bedstead, a cross-legged table, two chairs, a large box, and a stove, over which a large piece of buffalo meat hangs drying.  Today, we have seen buffalo bones all along the road, but here are great numbers of dead buffaloes scattered over the plain. In one place, forty carcasses were counted on less than ten acres. Most of these were killed in the winter by the settlers, and by people who sometimes come from a distance for the sport of hunting, and to obtain the buffalo meat, which is considered as good as beef. The parts of the buffalo most used for food are the loins and hindquarters, which are taken off with the skin on, to preserve the meat longer. Little use is made of the remaining parts. This accounts for there being so many carcasses along the track. A few buffaloes are killed in the summer for their hides, which are shipped to St. Louis, where they are tanned into leather.  We have watched all day for live buffaloes; but, although trains sometimes come upon large herds crossing the track, and are compelled to wait till they get out of the way, we have seen but one small herd. 

Most of them have gone north, where there is more water. It is growing dark, and tired of looking out on the dreary plains, we retire to our berths in the sleeping car, expecting to wake in the morning in Denver City, Colorado.



BY a slight shaking and considerable noise from the car's steward, we were awakened the morning of July 18th, and on looking out of the window toward the west, we saw a dark line crossing the plains from north to south, which looked like mountains. 

We were about forty miles from Denver, and as the train rushed on nearer and nearer, the mountains were more distinctly seen rising one above another, and on the highest peaks great banks of snow. Soon the whistle shrieked, and the brakeman cried, "Denver. Change cars for Cheyenne, Colorado Central," &c. 

Denver, the capital of Colorado Territory, has a population of 12,000 inhabitants, although it is but fourteen years since the first house was built.  It is situated on Cherry Creek, is laid out in a square, contains many fine buildings, and truly deserves its name, 

"The Queen City of the Plains."

We had intended to spend a day or two in Denver with my cousin, Mrs. Walling, who resides there, before continuing our journey to California. But my parents were much wearied, and we were so heartily welcomed at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Walling that we staid with them two weeks, and then at his request accompanied Mr. Walling to their home in the mountains where his saw-mills are located, and where it was thought the pure air and mountain scenery were just what my parents needed to rest their minds and improve their health.

Before leaving, let us take one more look at Denver. At this season we often see large numbers of Ute Indians in the streets, who have come down from the mountains to trade. They go straggling through the streets, some on ponies, some on foot, and sometimes two on a pony, some with their faces painted, and all of them ragged and dirty.

The markets offer all kinds of fruits and vegetables, but he who buys must pay well for all he gets, especially for fruits, which are all brought from California. One of Denver's curiosities is its "dry river." For years after the Pike's Peak country, which is now called Colorado, began to be settled, Cherry Creek, which has a broad, sandy bed, was but a shallow stream in the winter, and almost entirely dry in the summer. So spiles were driven, and the business part of the town built over the bed of the creek. 

But at last there was a change, a wet season, and a terrible storm, when the stream rose, and the water came down from the mountain in a flood, and finding Denver in its way, took the larger part of the city with it, city buildings, city records and all. 

In rebuilding the city, they have kept on the banks and do not encroach on the bed of the stream.

From Denver to Golden, a small city at the foot of the mountains, a distance of fifteen miles, we had a chance to learn the agricultural products of the territory. Wheat and barley are the principal crops. Corn does well in some places, and vegetables yield abundant crops if properly irrigated. Stock raising is a profitable business, and the plain was dotted with fine herds of cattle.

A mile or two beyond Golden, our road left the plains, and entering a narrow canyon between the foothills, began to ascend. 

Here was hard work for the horses. For miles we drove along by the bed of a little creek, the mountains rising abruptly on each side, sometimes smooth and grassy, sometimes covered with pine and spruce trees, sometimes solid rock rising almost perpendicularly to the height of two or three hundred feet, but oftener covered with loose rocks and a few stunted pines. At last we left the creek and began to climb in earnest, up, up, up, for two or three miles, to the top of a foot-range, only to descend by a zigzag course to the bottom of another canyon, and then to climb again. Thus we rode up and down for twenty-five miles, and when we reached Wailing's Mills, the end of our journey, we were glad to stop and rest.