Later from the Great Salt take—The Mor-mons—California Gold, & c.
The Pittsburg Gazette announces the arrival in that city of Mr. E. Whipple, one of the leading Mormons, from the settlement in the neighborhood of the Great Salt Lake.
Mr. Whipple left the Great Salt Lake settlement on the 13th of October, and arrived at Fort Kear-ney, on the Missouri, in 51 days. The settlement of Mormons with which he is connected is located in a beautiful valley on the borders of the Great Salt Lake, in the northeastern part of Upper California. The Great Salt Lake is about 150 miles long, by 50 broad, and contains nothing living. It is so salt that three barrels of water will make one of salt.—The shores of the Lake, in the dry season, are en-crusted with salt fit for use. It has no outlet.
Nearly south of the Salt Lake is a fresh-water lake called the Utah, which empties its waters into former. In this lake, fish—the mountain trout—are found. The river which connects the two lakes the Mormons call the Jordan. The valley in which they are situated slopes from the moun-tains to the river on both sides. These lakes, we may state, for the information of those who have not access to late maps, are situated on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, near the head waters of the River Platte, which runs into the Missouri, the Colorado, which empties into the Gulf of Cali-fornia, and the Columbia, which empties into the Pacific. The waters of the Platte and the Colo-rado almost unite by means of the Sweet Water River, which heads west of the Rocky Mountain chain, and runs into the Platte through the famous South Pass. Between these lakes and the Cali-fornia mountains, in which the Sacramento rises, is a vast valley or basin, supposed to consist princi-pally of sandy plains, about 400 miles wide from East to West, and some 600 to 700 miles long from North to South. From this immense basin no egress for water has been discovered, the rivers losing themselves in the sand.
The valley in which the Mormon settlements are is about fifty miles long, and forty broad, and is surrounded on three sides by high mountains, and on the north side by the Lake. It gradually slopes from the mountains to the River Jordan—and is formed into steppes. From various gorges in the mountains numerous fresh water streams pour their waters into the Jordan, affording fine water-power. No timber grows in the valley-hut an abundance is supplied by the valleys of the streams of the mountains. It consists of fir, pine, hemlock and sugar-maple.
In this delightful valley, about 1000 miles from Missouri, on the East, and 700 from the gold dig-gings of the Sacramento, on the West, the Rocky Mountains being a barrier on one side, and the Great Basin, and the Californian or Sierra Nevada Range on the other, the Mormons have at last found a resting place. About 7000 persons, of all ages and both sexes, are now collected in this val-ley. They commenced arriving in the valley in July, 1847, and last season they raised a fine crop of wheat, corn, and other productions, sufficient for their own consumption and those of their faith who are yearly coming in. At the next harvest, they will have provisions to dispose of. They have two grist-mills and four saw-mills in operation, and have laid out several villages and a town on an ele-vated plat which overlooks the whole valley and lake. They are building substantial houses, and surrounding themselves with many comforts.—They expect a large immigration this season from their brethren in the neighborhood of Council Bluffs, where there are some thousands congregated.
The road to California and Oregon by the north fork of the Platte River and the South Pass passes some sixty miles to the north of the settlement, but a route by the way of the Salt Lake can be taken which will not take the traveller out of his way more than 40 or 50 miles. The Mormons will be able to supply fresh mules and oxen, and after next harvest, provisions to those who are emigrat-ing to California.
Mr. Whipple says the road is very good all the way from Independence to west of the Mountains. In 1847, 1000 wagons passed over it, and last year, some 350. The trail is so well defined that no danger from loosing it need be feared. Mr. Whipple recommends oxen in preference to mules, and says they will make just as good time. Emi-grants usually make 15 miles a day. On some portions of the route there is a scarcity of grass.—For about 500 miles buffalo meat can be obtained in abundance.
Mr. Whipple represents the valley of the Salt Lake as perfectly healthy, and the journey to that region as attended with no dangers and but little fatigue. He returns again in the Spring.
The Mormons have established Ferries over the only rivers which are not fordable on account of high waters—the Platte and Greene livers—so that no hindrance to emigrants from that cause need now be feared. No gold has yet been found in the neighborhood of the Salt Lake, or anywhere east of the Sierra Nevada, as far as Mr. Whipple is informed. What has reached that region was brought there by the discharged Mormon soldiers who had returned from the placer to visit their families.
With reference to the story that the Mormons had claimed a pre-emption right to the diggings, and were demanding a per centage on the gold found, Mr. Whipple gives the following account. The first discovery of gold was made by Mormons [dis-charged soldiers] in digging a mill-race for Mr. Sut-ter. As the discovery was on his ground, he gave them the liberty of digging gold, on condition of paying him a certain percentage. This they agreed to do, but soon started off to explore for themselves, and having found some rich spot, they demanded a per centage from new-comers for digging in their ground, to which they claimed a right of discovery. This practice is general in the mines, and the Mor-mons, Mr. Whipple says, no more claim the whole of the mines than they claim the whole of Cali-fornia.
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