WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
Farming in the Platte Valley—How New Towns Spring Up—Crossing the Rocky Mountains—The Plains of Laramie—Na-ture's Architecture—Salt Lake City—A Desert Changed to a Garden—The Good Order Maintained Under Theocratic Rule —The "Peculiar Institution"—Mormon-ism Disintegrating Etc., Etc.
Correspondence of the Boston Post.
SALT LAKE CITY, JULY, 1875.
The wheat fields, cattle ranches and grasshopper pest of Nebraska were left behind as your corre-spondent closed his last letter. On a special train from North Platte to Ogden our party crossed the Rocky Mountains by day, and under the most favorable circumstances. As we passed over the last of the rich lands of the Platte Valley, and be-gan to reflect upon their extent and productive-ness, we wondered less than ever that our New England fields have been deserted; indeed, we are quite ready to recommend the still further aban-donment of all the rural districts of New England where the soil has been exhausted, though those hills and valleys should again grow up to forests and become the homes of wild beasts. We write thus knowing that we may be condemned for recommending to such disposition the homes of so much historic worth and industry. Nevertheless, the tendencies are manifest and the results inevitable. Young men who in-tend to follow agricultural pursuits will not long remain to till these wasted and rocky farms of the East, when the resources of the West are more fully understood, and when transportation shall be cheapened. The more this Western coun-try is opened up by competing lines of railway, and developed by enterprising labor, the more will the Western fever rage, and the more will all the mechanical industries flourish on this soil. The farmer will be followed by the mechanic, man-ufacturer, and members of the different professions, for whenever it can be done the tendency is to re-duce the distance between the producer and con-sumer to the minimum. The past and present rapid growth of towns and cities is too well known to justify lengthy comment. The adobe house (built of turf), gives place to a boarded shanty, and that to a handsome residence, with astonishing rapidity; clumps of rude huts disappear and a city arises in less than a half score years which the East would not be ashamed to own. The site of the town of Creston, Nebraska, for instance, was a wild prairie without a habitation of any kind six years ago, but at present there is a per-manent population of about 3000, representing every kind of business and industry. Lincoln is another of these rapid growths, where land is held at 60 cents per foot and everybody bears a title, and where Western hospitality is shown without stint.
CROSSING THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.
The rise from North Platte to Sherman (8235 feet above sea level), the highest point yet reached by any railway in the world, is so gradual that it is almost imperceptible, the heavy exhaust of two locomotives being the chief evidence. The tour-ist is disappointed while rising to the summit in not seeing Alpine peaks and huge canons; one is at the summit while still looking for it, and is apprised of his high elevation as he alights chiefly by the rarity of the atmosphere, which forbids much exertion, though one feels like leaping to the stars; also, by the change of the temperature, which renders overcoats, and fires in the one or two houses entered, decidedly comfortable. The eastern slope, composed chiefly of the diffent vari-eties of limestone, presents to the eye scarcely anything more impressive than do the Berkshire hills along the line of the Boston and Albany Railroad. There is a growth of scattered pines reaching to the very summit. In-deed, nothing seen before reaching Sherman is worthy of note. I mean in the way of mountain scenery. Thus far the Rocky Mountains are not rocky. But from that point down the western slope the scene changes. While the average tourist may continue to suffer disappointment from unrealized expectations, yet as he emerges from one point of the range after another and is at length greeted by the grand and beautiful plains of Laramie he will find himself thoroughly delighted with the scene presented. Reed's Rock, Dale Creek Bridge and to the west, twenty miles away, though seeming but five, the rocky range that skirts the sky with its perpetual snow-line and hems in Laramie, and the gloomy Black Hills in the distance, will unite in ap-proaching one's previous dreams of what the Rocky Mountains ought to be. Gladly would we linger on these plains of Laramie, but cannot. They have an elevation of 7123 feet. They are thirty miles wide from mountain to moun-tain, and are marvellously productive, affording some of the best grazing in the West. From this point to Ogden the tourist will see the strangest yet most attractive architectural freaks of Nature imaginable; huge embankments, massive fortifi-cations, half-formed pyramids, ruins resembling those of European castles and cathedrals, appro-priately called " monuments of the gods," greet the traveller with constant surprises. Those in the vicinity of Black, Pilot and Church Buttes are among the most noted. When travelling in Eu-rope three years ago we were constantly reminded by Europeans that our American scenery lacks historic associations and interest. Our reply to-day would be that these castles, fortifications, ab-beys and cathedrals of Nature are grander than Europe can present, and have an unwritten history no less romantic and thrilling. Here battles have been fought with displays of heroism as great as earth has elsewhere witnessed, and prayers have been offered as full of devotion as heaven has ever heard. The rugged ravines, the perpen-dicular walls piled up a thousand feet as seen in Echo and Weber Canons are among the grandest sights of the Pacific route and fully harmonize with our preconceived notions of the Rocky Mountains. We reached Ogden convinced that though we had not seen during the day Lucerne, with its Pilatus and Rhigi looking down upon us, nor the Valley of Chamouni, with its dazzling snow-capped peaks overhanging us, that we had nevertheless beheld some of the most unique, mar-vellous and impressive masonry of the Almighty to be found anywhere on the globe.
SALT LAKE CITY.
From Ogden to this city over the Utah Central Railway, during the sunset hours, is afforded a delightful trip. We are still at an elevation of 4000 feet above sea level. The mountains along the route and about the lake are Alpine in struc-ture though not in size ; they remind one strongly of the peaks surrounding the Scottish Lochs Lo-mond and Katrine. But we have never seen in Scotland those soft purple and bluish tints which were spread over the lake, hills and sky as we en-tered the valley of Salt Lake City. This was the coloring which is the artist's delight, an inde-scribable blush of Nature. The coloring and gen-eral effect were more like a sunset once witnessed on Lake Thun in Switzerland than we have ever seen elsewhere among the Alps or in America. Salt Lake City is about three miles square, hand-somely laid out, the streets wide and well shaded, having on either side what no other city of the world can boast, rippling streams, supplied from the snow-capped peaks about the city, as clear, sweet and fit to drink as the mountain brooks of New England. These verdant fields, the shade and fruit trees and pleasant city presented a most agree-able contrast to the desolate plains passed just be-fore reaching Ogden. No greater evidence of patience and industry can be asked than what is here seen. Nothing but religious enthu-siasm, or fanaticism, seemingly, could have in-duced these pioneers to have selected this, at that time, desolate waste for their habitation. Their industry, their plan of co-operative labor, and their remarkable system of irrigation, perhaps the most perfect in the world, have made these plains to blossom as the rose; from a purely agricultural point of view they are appropriately named the "Garden of the Lord." The salts, soda and al-kalies of the soil, which could produce nothing but a coarse grass and the wild sage-bush, have been dissolved by artificial irrigation, and ren-dered productive beyond belief. The climate is hot during the day ; we found the thermometer nearly 100 degrees in the shade, but noticed here for the first time the singular fact that, owing to the extreme dryness and rarity of the atmosphere, the perspiration is almost en-tirely insensible. A degree of heat which would drench one's clothes in New England, leaves them here quite free from moisture.
MORMON INDUSTRY AND INSTITUTIONS.
To do justice to this city of Latter Day Saints, and to fully represent their peculiar institutions, would require several letters, but at present I will merely say that this peculiar people can live independent of the rest of the world, and would be glad to have every obstinate Gentile banished and all political connections with the outer world severed. All kinds of productions, mineral, agricultural and mechanical, are such as to match any section of territory that can be named. The gardens of Mr Jennings, one of the leading Mormons and the probable successor of Brigham Young, are among the finest on the continent. When for five con-secutive years the fields in all save a few coun-ties were devastated by grasshoppers to no less extent than were the fields of Kansas and Nebras-ka last year, these people received no aid from the outside world and asked none. When, in their earlier history, their supplies failed and their crops were cut off by the black cricket, they suffered greatly, yet patiently subsisted on roots dug from the shores of the lake. Externally the good order resulting from the Mormon Civil Govern-ment will match that of any other city in Amer-ica. I have seen no one who disputes the claim that, in some respects, Salt Lake City is the best governed city on the continent. The people are industrious and seemingly given to hospitality. They show respect for the Christian Sabbath, after a Puritan sort, not allowing the opening of a store, saloon or barber shop. Our hotel proprie-tor told me that he had been twice fined for violating the city Sabbath ordinance by permitting a guest to be shaved Sunday morning. On the other hand we are convinced that the peculiar institution of this people—we mean polygamy—is the greatest curse they bear. It is the occasion of untold wretchedness and unhappiness, and is rendered endurable by the women only through religious fanaticism and a hope of future reward. It is ex-ceedingly revolting to a person of refinement, even when put in its best light by its ablest expounders. Mormon theology represents heaven as a place where a man who has a large family is a patriarch ruling his own children, and where he continues to beget children, world without end. God is represented as a perfected man, but who com-mitted adultery when Jesus Christ was begotten. So long as this religious enthusiasm continues, so long this people will be kept together in indis-soluble bonds; but intercourse with the outer world, the faithful preaching of Christ by Evan-gelical ministers already in the Territory, and the hoped-for interference of the General Government in henceforth forbidding the rites of "polygamous marriage," will increase the disintegrating pro-cess already commenced, and Mormonism will become one of those curious religious growths which have arisen, flourished for a time and then have disappeared. ELKO.
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