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established along its borders. In the dry season, however, it is sometimes reduced to a mere string of pools, and as the terminus is approached, the water becomes acrid, and finally unfit for use. On the western side of the basin are several fine rivers and many beautiful lakes. Among the latter is one designated as the pyramid lake, from a rocky island of precisely this figure in its centre. These are all filled with salmon trout and other excellent varieties of fish, and in the proper season the Indians derive from them an abundant subsistence. The Great Salt Lake, at the eastern rim of the basin, is a curious feature. It is 70 miles long and 20 to 50 miles wide, of considerable depth, studded with islands, and 4200 feet above the sea. Its waters are a saturated solution of common salt, and the constant flow into it of fresh water rivers does not appear to affect in the least its saline proportion. “Every evaporation of the water leaves salt behind. The rocky shores of the islands are whitened by the spray, which leaves salt on every thing it touches, and a covering like ice forms over the water, which the waves throw upon the rocks. The shores of the lake in the dry season, when the waters recede, and especially on the south side, are whitened with incrustatations of fine white salt; the shallow arms of the lake, at the same time, under a slight covering of briny water, present beds of salt for miles, resembling softened ice, into which the horses’ feet sink to the fetlock. Plants and bushes blown by the winds upon the fields are entirely encrusted with crystallized salt more than an inch in thickness. No fish or animal life of any kind is found in it.” This lake would afford, at little expense or labor, an immense supply of salt, and, without other resources, would probably be ample for all Western America for an indefinite period. And of course it will be necessary to some extent; yet its remoteness from the peopled portions of the country, and the difficulty of transportation to any considerable distance, will prevent the early establishment of large or very valuable salt works. It may therefore be preserved for ages upon ages, as one of the peculiar curiosities of the Western World. The Utaht lake, 25 miles long, 6 miles wide, and 100
* Frémont's Memoir, f Query—Eutaw 1
feet above the Salt Lake, connects with it by a bold stream of fresh water, some 35 miles long. It receives numerous tributaries of fresh water likewise from the neighboring mountains. In the valley of this lake and river, both having the same name, the Mormons have made quite a large settlement. Their numbers are increasing by accessions from their brethren in Missouri and elsewhere, and as they count at this time over 5000 souls, their colony may become permanent. On the 1st of April, 1S48, “they had 3000 acres in wheat, 7 saw and grist mills, 700 houses in a fortified enclosure of 60 acres, stock, &c.” Accounts received from them recently indicate that they have enlarged their fields, one of them containing 8000 acres, and that they have innumerable flocks and herds, and are in a prosperous condition. A post office has been established among them by the government, and the mail is to be conveyed there every two months. A topographical party, under Captain Stansbury, U. S. A., has been ordered out by the department to survey the region about them, which will exhibit its geological character and its agricultural and other advantages. The last winter was extremely severe, the thermometer descending in February as low as 30° below zero, and their supply of provisions was barely sufficient to sustain its rigors. They were somewhat discouraged, and it was supposed that a succession of such seasons would force them to abandon their improvements and repair to the more genial clime of the Pacific coast. But it appears that their energies are re-invigorated, for they are now clamorous for a territorial government, and seem inclined to form a Mormon State. Their position being intermediate between the States and Oregon and California proper, and nearly on the direct line of travel, gives them at present some importance. But, for the mass of the emigrants, the route will be changed after a while, and this advantage will be lost to them. If there were no other reason, the time required to cross the prairies would prove an insuperable obstacle to this route for our active and impatient people.f
* Frémont’s Memoir.
# Camels from Arabia have been suggested for the purpose of travel across these immense plains. It would seen that they can be procured as cheaply as horses, and most probably would bear the climate. And if they
could be obtained in sufficient numbers, we see not only no forcible reason against their use, but every consideration of economy and convenience in +
With regard to a territorial government for the Mormons, there can arise no objection to granting it, when the people become numerous enough to warrant it, and when there are interests to be protected by local jurisdiction, and the immediate exercise of power becomes necessary to insure the speedy execution of justice. The process by which our embryo bodies politic are nurtured, grown and ushered into independent existence, is one of the most beautiful features of our political system, and in this connection is worthy of a passing remark. It is entirely original with our constitution, and we believe not only without precedent, but even without a hint at the theory in all the past history of colonial governments. The territory of the Union is owned jointly by all the States. The citizens of any of them may, under the constitution, settle themselves in any portion of it. When a respectable number thus assemble together within convenient limits, and grow too prosperous to remain contented under the mere regulations adapted to the “squatter’s” life, they apply to Congress for a territorial government. In granting one, the laws of the country are tangibly extended over them, and they are as amply protected in their interests as if they resided in the most advanced of the States. When, again, their population has expanded to the number required by law for admission into the sisterhood of States, and the accumulated wealth of the community enables it to sustain the expensive burthen of a separate government, they prepare their constitution, present it to Congress, which ascertains only that it conforms to republican institutions, and elevates them from their colonial condition into a sovereignty. Under the constitution of the Union, they become co-equal with the other States in rights and privileges. If necessary, they may even secede from the confederacy and maintain a separate national existence. And this, without the dangers, certainly without that right of coercion on the part of Congress, which was possessed and could have been exercised while they were yet a territory. The system resembles very much the natural progress of man from childhood to maturity. In the early period of infancy he is guarded and nourished with ample provision; in youth he is protected and instructed; and at the assumption of the toga virilis he is presented with the insignia of matured and independent manhood. Not only is it beautifully simple and natural—-as Junius says of governments, that they flourish best when most naturally produced—but profoundly rational. It instils into men the undying germs of self-reliance and independence; for the destiny awaiting them is known, and it expands in them the principles of political liberty, while it insures, like an instinctive attachment, their unconquerable adherence to free institutions. The Mormons may never have a population to justify their formation into a State, nor become competent to bear its incidental expenses. The arable land around their present location will not support a great number. The fertile soil is confined to the valleys of the Utah lake and river, and their affluents, including a bench at the foot of the mountains, which is many miles long but quite narrow. The area drained by both the lakes and their tributaries is estimated by Frémont at only 12,000 square miles. The productive portions of this, containing much mountain land, must naturally be in small proportion. And were their limits extended south to Nicollet river, and inclosed by the high grounds on either side of the lakes, it would be only a strip of territory 25 miles wide and some 100 miles long, and but a small portion even of this would be susceptible of cultivation. It is probable that 50,000 persons could not be maintained upon it, and possibly one half would exceed the number who could procure a comfortable subsistence. Besides, the seasons there are uncertain. Irrigation is absolutely required to secure even a tolerable crop. The Mormons planted largely in 1848; yet they sent word to their friends inclined to join them, that they must carry out provisions, as they were more needed than money. It may be urged that they can occupy the entire basin, and, as to mere territory, erect the largest State in the confederacy. But there are few other spots upon which any respectable number could subsist. These few are small and situated at wide intervals; and, all united, from present, knowledge, would not probably amount to half the quantity of arable land around the lakes, and with similar advantages. These people discovered gold a year ago in the adjacent mountains, but, with great wisdom and the most praiseworthy restraint, refrained from opening mines. Had they deserted their fields for the metal, they would probably have perished. More recent explorations have developed the precious ore in very great abundance. Indeed, it is said that a few persons gathered gold enough in a short time last year to answer all the purposes of a currency in their colony. Other emigrants have now joined them, and the temptation, together with their example, may become irresistible. In that event, their crops will be neglected. There will be more mouths to feed, by the emigration of the past summer, and, with no resources existing beyond themselves, it will not be difficult to predict what their condition will be next winter. Let us hope, however, that the prudence of the heads of families, at least, will not forsake them, and that they will not sacrifice everything, including themselves ultimately, to the insanity of avarice. Another feature in the Great Basin, worthy of a passing notice, is the Salt Plain. It lies at no great distance west of the Great Salt Lake. Its extent is estimated by Bryant at 40 miles by 150. The saline matter is “of a snowy white surface,” and is so firm and hard that a horse trotting over portions of it leaves upon it no impression. The ingredients which constitute it have not been critically examined; but it is supposed that they are very similar to
facilitating the movements of a large class of emigrants. Their great strength enabling them to carry from 1000 to 1200 pounds weight, at the rate of 30 te 35 iniles a day, has, added to their appearance, gained them the name of “ships of the desert.” Their endurance of thirst for seven or eight days together, and hunger for four or five days, and the toughness of their feet, remaining uninjured amid burning sands and in traversing rocky regions, while they need but the coarsest food, as thistles and wormwood, would permit travellers to take the shortest practicable route, without regard to grass or water. Their docility would render them particularly useful and safe in transporting families. Carrying almost as much, eac of them, as a four horse wagon, and travelling more than twice the distance, it is obvious how greatly they would economize in the outfit and insure the certainty of arrival, by excluding all the accidents of wagon transportation. And the incomparable cheapness over every other domestic work animal is proved by the fact that they are matured for work at five years old and live to the age of forty years. If some emigrants drive their wagons for ultimate purposes, and their oxen also, as cheaper because owned already, and as fast enough to keep company with their flocks and herds, which they may wish to carry with them; yet those who move with other views than to pursue a pastoral or agricultural life, (which at present are the great majority) would be benefited by substituting the camel for the ox, or the horse, or the mule. And, for government expresses, the camel, moving lightly from 80 to 90 miles a day, continuously, would convey them to the Pacific in 25 days, about half the time required for passage by the Isthmus, or by any other route, and would do so until the o of the two oceans are connected by a rail-road over our own soil.