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those of the waters of the Salt Lake. They are, however, in materially less quantity, as they form generally in crusts of only half an inch to an inch in thickness; beneath which is a stratum of whitish sand and clay, intermingled and strown over the entire plain; and, imbedded in the salt and sand, are fragments of “white shell rock.” The climate of this region is ordinarily milder than would seem to be due to its elevation and structure. “In October, 1845, the thermometer ranged, as a mean, at 409 at sunrise, 70° at noon, and 54° at sunset, near to the Salt Lake. And farther in the interior it ranged, in November, between latitudes 38° and 40°, as a mean, at 29° at sunrise, from 40° to 60° at noon, and 49° at sunset. Near the base of the Nevada Mountains, it descended much lower in the month of December; yet, for ten consecutive days during this period, it stood at an average of 45° at noon. In October flowers were in full and fresh bloom, and a second crop of grass was coming on, while there was no snow within 2000 feet of the plain, which itself was 4 to 5000 feet above the sea.” The winter, however, appears to prevail in its severity in January and February, and, from the Mormon accounts, it exceeds in its rigor the climate of any settled portion of the United States. The air is dry and pure, owing to the fact that the western mountains precipitate the moisture of the Pacific breezes. Irrigation, therefore, becomes necessary to agricultural success; which is a serious drawback to the dense population of that country. Irrigation is laborious and expensive under favorable circumstances; but it will be peculiarly burthensome for a sparsely settled people, in a land where the spots of fertility are scattered at far intervals. The farmer must have his “season,” or the best of soil will prove unproductive. This is one serious obstacle to any extensive and profitable cultivation in Western Texas, where the soil possesses unsurpassed richness, and where the clime is healthy and fructifying. But the rains there are uncertain, and often in excess, and occasionally none fall for months together, when the crops are burnt up. A fair season produces an extraordinary yield, and past losses are thus partially compensated. Another obstacle to the progress of the Mormons is the scarcity of timber, which is confined to the mountains, and generally is very difficult of access. They may construct their cities of stone, which is abundant and convenient to them, and thus present many nobler looking streets than are to be found on the continent. But, unless coal is discovered in the vicinity, the severe winters will ere long exhaust their supplies of fuel, and alone prove sufficient to expel them from the country. Upon the whole, our people will not resort to this section of California in any considerable numbers, for ages to come, unless extensive and valuable mines of the precious metals are opened. In which case, an increased but shifting crowd of adventurers may discover whatever resources the country possesses. Yet the peculiar religion of the Mormons, which is repugnant to morality and to our social laws, would deter many who are not converts from mingling in their society permanently, and submitting to their governmental control. They must, in all likelihood, be utterly rooted out, or be outnumbered and overwhelmed. The maritime portion of California, and which properly monopolizes the appellation, and will continue to do so, is the region to which the eyes of mankind are now turned with extraordinary and increasing interest. The prospects, and some of the scenes of the 16th century, appear to be revived, and about to be renewed, on the shores of the Pacific. The wonderful accounts of its golden streams and plains and mountains, confirmed by unquestioned testimony, and the unprecedented facility with which the treasure may be gathered—sometimes by thousands of dollars' worth per day,"—have made it the focus for emigrants from all parts of the world; and, combined with a lovely climate and a bounteous soul, destine it to the most rapid growth in population and wealth of any country in the records of history. A year ago it contained but 15 or 20,000 white inhabitants—a year hence it will exhibit 200,000 of the “bone and sinew” of Eastern America; and it will thus spring into the lusty vigor of mature manhood, not only in “panoply,” like the fabled goddess, but ennobled with all the political traits, and endowed with all the moral and intellectual energies of hereditary freemen. The advent of a new golden era, for that country at least, may begin, with every hope to cheer, and with few forebodings to darken, the prospect. Cities will arise upon its
• A Mr. John Flin gathered $25,000 worth in ten days, and, with an assistant, procured as much more out of the same hole.
waters and amid its fertile valleys; commerce will expand its wings; agriculture will flourish; general prosperity will overspread the land with the rapidity of enchantment; and all will be based upon a structure too stable and too permanent to be subverted again by the reversal of the magician's wand. Free institutions will be erected and liberal laws will be enacted by the instinctive impulses of those people who are ignorant of the principles, the habits and customs of other governments and other laws. And California, without some unforeseen disaster, will, in time, experience the full fruition of all the blessings of a rational and advancing civilization. This maritime section is embraced within the 32d and 42d parallels of latitude, and between the crest of the Nevada Mountains and the Pacific Ocean; averaging 150 miles in width in its middle, and about 200 miles in its northern portions, and comprising 100,000 to 120,000 square miles. Col. Frémont takes a general view of the country in the following forcible passages. He presents a charming picture, lighted by a restrained though rich imagination, and marred by none of the shades that future experience may cast upon it. We will not impair his landscape by curtailing it:
“Looking westward from the summit of the Sierra, (Nevada,) the main feature presented is the long, low, broad valley of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers—the two valleys forming one—500 miles long and 50 broad, lying along the base of the Sierra, and bounded to the west by the low coast range of mountains, which separates it from the sea. Long dark lines of timber indicate the streams, and bright spots mark the intervening plains. Lateral ranges parallel to the Sierra Nevada and the coast, make the structure of the country, and break it into a surface of valleys and mounts—the valleys a few hundred, and the mountains two to four thousand feet above the sea. These form greater masses, and become more elevated in the north, where some peaks, as the Shastl, enter the region of perpetual snow. Stretched along the mild coast of the Pacific, with a general elevation in its plains and valleys of only a few hundred feet above the sea, and backed by the long and lofty wall of the Sierra, mildness and geniality may be assumed as the characteristic of its climate. The inhabitants of corresponding latitudes on the Atlantic side of the continent, can, with difficulty, conceive of the soft air and southern productions under the same latitudes in the maritime regions of Upper California. The singular beauty and purity of the sky in the south of this region, is characterized by Humboldt as a rare phenomenon, and all travellers realize the truth of his description.
“The present condition of the country affords but slight data for forming correct opinions of the agricultural capacity and fertility of the soil. Vancouver found at the mission of San Buena Ventura, in 1792, latitude 34° 16', apples, pears, plums, figs, oranges, grapes, peaches, pomegranates, growing together with the plantain, banana, cocoa-nut, sugar cane, and indigo, all yielding fruit in abundance, and of excellent quality. Humboldt mentions the olive of California as equal to that of Andalusia, and the wine like that of the Canary Islands. At present, but little remains of the high and various cultivation which had been attained at the missions. Under the mild and paternal administration of the Fathers, the docile character of the Indians was made available for labor, and thousands were employed in the fields, the orchards, and the vineyards. At present, but little of this former culture is seen. The fertile valleys are overgrown with wild mustard; vineyards and olive orchards, decayed and neglected, are among the remaining vestiges. Only in some places do we see the evidences of what the country is capable. At San Buena Ventura we found the olive trees, in January, bending under the weight of neglected fruit; and the mission of San Louis Obispo (latitude 35°) is still distinguished for the excellence of its olives, considered finer and larger than those of the Mediterranean.
“The productions of the south differ from those of the north and of the middle. Grapes, oranges, Indian corn have been its staples, with many assimilated fruits and grains. Tobacco has been recently introduced, and the uniform summer heat which follows the wet season, and is uninterrupted by rain, would make the southern country well adapted to cotton. Wheat is the first product of the north, where it always constituted the principal cultivation of the missions. This promises to be the grain-growing region of California. The moisture of the coast seems particularly suited to the potato and to the vegetables common to the United States, which grow to an extraordinary size.
“Few parts of the world can produce in such perfection so great a variety of fruits and grains as the large and various region enclosing the Bay of San Francisco and drained by its waters.” Memoir, pp. 14, 15.
The California or Nevada mountains rise very gradually from the great valley. At first, they are gentle hills, which soon become more abrupt, until they reach the average height of about 8000 feet. They are accessible to the point of perpetual snow. The distance from the plains to their summit is from 40 to 70 miles. “The ascent gives rise to a variety of climates. Each belt has its variety of flowers and vegetation: on the undulating hills groves of oaks, next above cedars, and last, pines or coniferae.”
* Capt. Wilkes.
The pines grow, from 2000 feet above the plain, upwards, to the summit of the ridge. There is a white oak that yields very large acorns, which are the principal food of the Indians, who collect and preserve them in cribs, as we do corn. All the hills are, more or less, covered with these oaks, and thus offer a fine winter range for hogs. They grow to the height of 60 and 70 feet, and Frémont measured one that was 11 feet in diameter. A species of cypress, however, which grows among all the mountains of this region, is the “king of the forest.” It is of gigantic size, and in no part of the world, but Oregon, can it be matched;—200 feet is its common height, and from 8 to 10 feet through the trunk. One near Santa Clara, in the Coast mountains, was 275 feet high, (and it was not the tallest,) and 15 feet through, three feet above the base.
This broad slope of the Nevada mountains extends the entire length of the great valley, and contains within itself “timber, pasturage, some arable land, quarries, mill seats, factory sites,” excellent water in abundance, and is now ascertained to possess large, if not inexhaustible deposits of gold and other metals. With the advantage of a delightful climate, and more certain seasons than in other parts of the country generally, the “foot hills” and valleys, especially, lying adjacent to the San Joaquim river and valley, afford admirable places for settlement. If the mania for riches could be sacrificed to the comforts and the pleasures of pastoral and farming life, it would seem that no land and no clime would furnish so many of the elements of health and happiness. The temperature there is that of perpetual spring, blending into summer on the plains stretching to the river, and into progressive degrees of fall and winter, on the other hand, by successive ascents up the mountains. The flowers bloom freshly the year round in repeated crops; the grass is not killed by frost in winter nor parched by drought in summer; the valleys are handsome and fertile, and produce all the bread stuffs used by man, and many of the luscious fruits of the tropics; the game and wild fowl, are abundant and various; the air and water are pure and healthful, and the scenery is picturesque and ever varying. . In fine, all that rational man could desire of mother earth are spread before him there in lavish profusion.
The Coast mountains are successions of broken and
9 vol. xvi.-No. 31.