Sunday, February 22, 2009

W.S. Mills, Colorado River 1881

Letter signed by W.S. Mills (business man possibly of Oakland California Area).

Steamer Gila Colorado River January 31, 1881

My Dear Daughter Lyra; We expect to reach Ehrenberg this evening where I can mail this letter. Ehrenberg is 125 miles from Yuma --- 125 miles in 9 days is slow traveling. We have made most of the distance in the last three days, and we hope to make the next 175 miles to Ft. Mohave in 6 days. The scenery on the colorado is varied and at places very fine. The most noted things we have passed are Castle Dome, Chimney Peaks, Light House Rock, The Barriers, and Red Rock Gate. Castle Dome is a high mountain, the top of which looks like the Capitol Building at Washington. The Dome looks exactly lilke the Capitol Dome. It was in sight for seven days and from each location it presented the same appearance. The Chimnney Peaks look like immense monuments with perpendicular sides, tapering very little more than the Washington monument at Washington, but seeminly ten times its height. They have been in sight ever since before we reached Yuma on the railroad. Day before yesterday we passed near them. When in a certain position as we came up the river the top of the tallest peak looked like an immense human head with two distinct human faces, one looking south the other looking north. It is said there is another profile to be seen on this peak from some other position--where upon we named it Trinity Peak. Light House Rock is in the river and looks quite like a Light House structure. The Barriers is a place in the river where at a little distance it seems to come to an end-- to be barred by rocks. Red Rock Gate is a point in the river where it is quite narrow--drawn in by the red rock bluffs on each side. We are now in a wide valley with the mountains in the distance on both sides. Occasionally there are groves of cottonwood trees in the valley. My fellow passengers are Mr. Macfarlane, Major Walton of Oakland Cal. A Mr. Morez a machinist, and Mr Sanders of San Francisco who is engaged in gathering mining statistice forthe Government census. All are intelligent men and good company. Through the day we read and talk and comment on the scenery. The boat ties up to the bank at evening. In the evening we generally have a game of whist. We pass the time very pleasantly. The steamship crew is of a remarkable cosmopolitan character. The Captain is a New Yorker, of German descent. The Clerk is from North Carolina and was in the rebel navy. The Engineer is a Yankee, the Mate is a Spaniard, the Wheelman is a Greek, the steward and cook are Chinamen, the men are Mexicans and Indians-- the Indians being from four different tribes Yumas, Cocopaks, Mohaves, and Deegans. The variety of language is amusing and interesting. Mr. Sanders is a German and speaks the German language. Mr. Welton is a college graduate and speaks French. The Indians seem to know more Spanish than English, so their orders are given them in spanish. Mr Macfarlane tells me he left school at 17 and I was surprised to hear him talk German, French and Spanish. Sinche we left Yuma he has read a book in German, some in Spanish and is now studing Latin, remarking that he read Latin a little is School. All else he has learned sincer he left school-- as well as the science of chemistry which gives him his particular profession, and enables him to command a high salary. All this learning has been picked up as he passed along through life. He is now 47 years old-- he has a wife and nice children and is as industriouis a student as you would find anywhere. My cold is somewhat better though I cough considerable yet. Otherwise I am in good health. Love to your Mother and Leof and you. This letter must answer for all of you. I hope you are getting strong daily. W.S. Mills.

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