ARAPAHOE, Dec. 12, '59.
Mr. EDITOR:—My time has been so much occupied by matters of business the past six weeks, that I have found it impossible to fulfil the promise I made in my first letter, to write to you as often as once a month. I intend, though, to keep up the correspon-dence, by writing whenever my leisure will permit.
The exodus to the "States" has about stopped, the weather having made the jour-ney across the plains too dangerous to at-tempt, unless by the Express, which con-tinues to keep up a communication between us and civilization. Its trips are now made with great regularity, in from seven to eight days. The Express Company, (Jones, Rus-sell & Co.,) have established stations from thirty to forty miles distant from each other along the whole route, where passengers are fed and cared for, so that the journey across the plains, can now be made with compara-tive ease and comfort. The fare, including board, either way, is $100, but will be re-duced much below that when opposition is commenced, which will be, we learn, early in the Spring. The line of policy pursued by Jones, R. & Co., has created much dis-satisfaction among the miners and citizens of this Territory, and the establishment of an Express Company to compete with them, is earnestly looked for, and in fact is very necessary to the interests of the people.
A Provisional Government, as you will have already learned, has been organized over this Territory, and is in successful op-eration. Portions of Nebraska, New Mexi-co, and Utah, comprise, with Western Kan-sas, the new Territory of Jefferson. Nearly all of it is gold bearing, and there are lands within its limits that will compare favorably with any in the States for agricultural pur-poses; a fact that has established itself in opposition to the first convictions of nearly every person in the Territory.
Speaking in general terms, the county is well timbered. The bottoms of all the streams in the Valleys are overgrown with Cottonwood, box elder, and red cedar; while on the mountains is found an abundant growth of fir, pine, quaking asp, and several other varieties of forest trees. Oak and oth-er varieties of the hardwood grow in the southern part of the Territory, but not in sufficient quantity to supply the demand for them by a large population.
The plains afford excellent grazing for stock; grass grows from three to five feet high, and is very nutritous, even in the Winter cattle will fatten on the grass which is apparently withered and dried up. Hun-dreds of tons of hay have been cured during the season with no other expense than that of cutting. When a system of irrigation shall be adopted as in New Mexico, their lands will produce whatever vegetables may be planted in great abundance, and without it immense crops of wheat, barley, rye, &c., can be raised. The experiment has been tried on a small scale the present season, with perfect success. This country is well watered near the mountains, so that the ir-rigation of the plains is simply a question of time, and then not a doubt can exist but that it can and will produce every article of sustenance necessary to a population of five hundred thousand. The climate is very agreeable and salubrious, being I am inform-ed by old Californians, in most respects sim-ilar to that of California. After the rainy season, (which commences about the middle of July, and lasts six or seven weeks,) is over, the atmosphere is dry and clear with the exception of an equinoctial storm or two, until the beginning of the next rainy season. I am convinced that the climate is admirably adapted to persons with pulmona-ry complaints or of weak lungs. Whether from the elevation at which we are, or from some peculiar property of the atmosphere, every one here is of necessity compelled to inflate his lungs to their fullest extent in breathing; any extra exertion makes one pant as though he had been running a quar-ter race.
We have had several storms with snow, but it has always cleared up pleasant after a day or two, when the snow rapidly disap-pears. To-day the weather is as warm and balmy as though it was the month of June. Nevertheless I have heard that the Indians predict a severe winter for us. Very few Indians remain about the settlement at present, the tribe having gone North on their Winter hunt.
Game has been quite abundant the past few days; the last snow storm drove it out of the mountains in great numbers which was at once taken advantage of by our hunters. It consists of Elk, Deer, An-telope, and mountain sheep. The elk attains an enormous size, as do also a species of deer known as the black tailed deer. The mountain sheep is clothed with hair, similar in color to a goat; they have enormous horns on their heads, frequently weighing as much as fifty pounds, upon which, it is said, they will throw themselves from the top of a pre-cipice sixty feet high, if pursued, and sus-tain no injury. Several black bears have been killed on the mountains, and a grisly bear was shot and killed near Golden city, a few week ago. It has been generally sup-posed that there were no grislies on the east-ern side of the Rocky Mountains, but the contrary is now proven.
Mining is nearly suspended on account of the weather. Some quartz leads are being worked in the mountains to supply the crush-ers which have been set up. Most of the quartz in these leads is found to be very rich; worth $300 per cord of 128 cubic feet. Gulch diggings are about closed up till next Spring, some of them are being worked a few hours each day when the weather is fine. Preparations are being made and are near-ly completed, for commencing to mine the "placer diggings" at this place, which it is expected will pay from three to five dollars a day to the hand. Two ditches having an aggregate length of over five miles are being constructed by two different companies to supply water to the mines; each of the ditch-es is three feet wide on the bottom, and five at top, with a depth of two feet; yet it is estimated that they will be unequal to sup-ply the demand for water, and a third ditch is in contemplation.
The diggings here are on a bank elevated sixty feet above Clear Creek, and extend from the base of Table Mountain, (an out-post of the main range) about eight miles into the Valley. The "bed rock" is from thirty to fifty feet below the surface, and gold can be obtained from the surface down to it. This town is situated on the bank just hack from the claims on the creek. The surface of this bank or bar is very even, and as well adapted for a town site as any I have ever seen.
One of the acts of our Provisional Govern-ment was to divide the Territory into coun-ties, of which there are twelve. This city (Arapahoe,) was made the county seat of Jefferson county. By the by the name of Jefferson seems to be a favorite one here; not only has our Territory been dubbed Jef-ferson, but we have one county, two towns, and a mining precinct by that venerated name.
People generally have removed from the tents in which they have lived during the Summer, into comfortable log cabins, and the country begins to wear a more settled appearance. Houses have been built on ranche claims along the streams, and people live in them, but the population is mostly confined to the towns. I do not suppose there are over five thousand white men in the Territory, notwithstanding the imposing names the settlements have adorned them-selves with, and notwithstanding the elec-tion returns which go to the States. By all accounts there will be a tremendous emigra-tion next Spring. Everybody is laying back for speculation when the rush comes, and green ones had best beware of "salted claims" if they are in a purchasing mood of mind.
It is evident that the main scene of min-ing operations next year will be on the western slope of the mountains, in what is now Utah Territory. Very rich diggings are known to exist on the Blue river and the Colorado. They were discovered too late in the season to be of much avail this year.—Those who went there did very well, but they were unable to remain long, being in unsafe proximity to the Ute Indians, and in numbers too small to contend with them.—The Utes are very warlike, and have declar-ed that the whites shall not enter their coun-try, being, it is thought, instigated thereto by the Mormons, who are apprehensive that their "peculiar institution" will suffer if the Pike's Peakers approach any nearer them. I find a deeply seated prejudice against the Mormons in the minds of the people here, which will some day be likely to break out into open hostility.
It was my intention to have written you some information as to the means of getting to this country, but on reflection I have con-cluded not to; facilities for traveling across the plains will be much increased next year, and all the information I could give would be that derived from my own experience, which it is to be hoped will be out of date then; I will however volunteer the advice to such as design coming, to avoid the trip with oxen; they are too slow for this fast age. Mules or horses are very good, but they require watching to prevent them from being stolen by the Indians or professional horse thieves. The stage will be the best means to come by when the fare is reduced, as it undoubtedly will be. Provisions and goods are plenty here and I do not think any speculation can be made by any stranger bringing out goods. Most of those who went to the States this Fall design to return with goods next Spring.
Denver city is progressing rapidly, a brick yard has been established, and several brick buildings have been built, framed buildings have generally taken the place of the log houses which were first constructed, and I noticed lately that many of them are being painted. Two theatres, together with con-certs and balls, furnish the amusements for the Denverites, varied with an occasional duel, of which several have occurred lately. Gold dust which has heretofore been taken for $18 per ounce, has been reduced to $16, causing great dissatisfaction, and a loud de-mand for the establishment by Congress of an Assay office, at Denver, or some other point within the Territory. There is but little coin the country, and no paper money, so that all business transactions are carried on with gold dust. W. W. S.
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