The Prairie Traveler by Randolph Barnes Marcy, Captain, U.S.A.


XVII.--From Westport, Missouri, to the gold diggings at Pike's Peak
and "Cherry Creek," N. T., via the Arkansas River.

Illustration: Map of the Pike Peak's Gold Region.

          Westport to
  4 3/4.  Indian Creek.--The road runs over a beautiful country.
            Indian Creek is a small wooded stream, with abundance
            of grass and water.
  8 3/4.  Cedar Creek.--The road passes over a fine country, and
            there is a good camping-place at Cedar Creek.
  8 1/2.  Bull Creek.--The road is smooth and level, with less
            wood than before. Camping good.
  9 1/2.  Willow Springs.--At nine miles the road passes "Black
            Jack Creek," where there is a good camping-place. The
            road has but little wood upon it at first, but it
            increases toward the end of the march. The road is
            level for some distance, but becomes more rolling,
            and the country is covered with the finest grass.
            Good camp at one mile from the main road.
 20 1/4.  110-Mile Creek.--The road traverses the same character
            of country as yesterday, but with less woodland, is
            very smooth, and at 9 and 12 miles passes "Rock
            Creeks," which have no running water in a dry season.
            Good camp.
 22 1/2.  Prairie Chicken Creek.--At eight miles the road crosses
            Dwissler Creek, which is a fine little stream; four
            miles farther First Dragoon Creek, and at one mile
            farther the Second-Dragoon Creek, both fine streams,
            well wooded, and good camping-places. Good camp.   
 20.      "Big Rock Creek."--At one mile the road crosses a small
            wooded branch. Three miles beyond it crosses "Elm
            Creek," where a good camping-place may be found. At 7
            miles it crosses 142-Mile Creek, and at 13 miles it
            crosses Bluff Creek, where there is a good camping-
            place. Good camp.
 20.      "Council Grove," on "Elm Creek.--Road passes "Big John
            Spring" at 13 miles, and is smooth and good. A fine
            camp is found three fourths of a mile beyond the
            "Grove," on Elm Creek, with abundance of wood, water,
            and grass.
 16.      Diamond Spring.--At eight miles the road crosses Elm
            Creek, and passes over a section similar to that cast
            of Council Grove. It is fine in dry weather, but
            muddy after heavy rains. Good camp at Diamond Spring.
 16.      Lost Spring.--One mile from camp the road passes a
            wooded creek. From thence there is no more wood or
            permanent water until arriving at camp. Take sight
            from Lost Spring. The country becomes more level,
            with grass every where. The road is muddy in wet
 15 3/4.  Cottonwood Creek.--Road continues over a prairie
            country, sensibly rising and improving. Wood, water,
            and grass at camp.
 22.      Turkey Creek.--The road is good, and at 18 miles passes
            Little Turkey Creek. No wood, and the water poor at
            camp; grass good.
 23.      Little Arkansas River.--The road runs over a level
            prairie, and at 3 1/2 miles passes "Big Turkey
            Creek," with the Arkansas River Valley in sight all
            day. After rains there are frequent pools of water
            along the road. Good camp.
 20.      "Big Cow" Creek.--The road passes for ten miles over a
            level prairie to Charez Creek, which is a bushy
            gully; thence six miles to Little Cow Creek, which is
            a brushy stream, with here and there a tree. Good
            camp here to the left of the road, near a clump of
            trees. "Prairie-dog towns" commence to be seen. Road
            very level. Buffalo-grass here.
 20.      Big Bend of the Arkansas.--The road at 12 miles strikes
            the sand-hills of the Arkansas River. They are soon
            passed, however, and the level river bottom is
            reached. The river has a rapid current flowing over a
            quicksand bed. The road is generally good from the
            last camp. Wood, water, and grass at camp.
  7.      Walnut Creek.--The road is good. Cool springs at this
            camp; good grass and wood.
 21.      Head of Coon Creek.--At five miles the road forks, one
            following the river, the other a "short cut" "dry
            route" to Fort Atkinson, where they unite on the
            river. The country rises for ten miles on the dry
            route, then descends to the river, and is covered
            with the short buffalo-grass. No wood at camp.
 18.      Arkansas River.--The road passes over an undulating and
            uninteresting prairie, with but little vegetation.
            The water in dry weather is in pools.
 19.      Arkansas River, at Fort Atkinson.--The road runs over a
            similar country to that of yesterday, with no wood
            near; pleanty of buffalo-chips for cooking, and good
 18 3/4.  Arkansas River.--At 4 1/2 miles the road ascends a
            bluff covered with thick buffalo-grass. At 17 miles
            pass a ford. Grass good at camp.
 19 1/4.  Arkansas River.--The road is sandy for 14 miles, but
            not deep except in places; thence to camp it is good.
            Good camp.
 22.      Arkansas River.--Country prairie, covered with short
            buffalo-grass. Good camp.
 22.      Arkansas River.--The road is fine, crossing several dry
            beds of creeks, along which are seen a few scattering
            trees. Good camp on a dry creek near the river.
 24.      Arkansas River.--The road runs over a barren plain at
            the foot of the main plateau, and crosses two dry
            creeks near the camp, on which are cottonwood-trees.
            Plenty of wood at camp.
 21.      Arkansas River.--The road follows the base of the hills
            at from one to three miles from the river. Good camp.
 20.      Arkansas River.--At seven miles the road strikes the
            "Big Timbers," where there is a large body of
            cottonwood; thence for three miles the road is heavy
            sand. Good camps along here.
 13.      Arkansas River.--At one mile the road passes some old
            houses formerly used as a trading-post. Here
            terminates the "Big Timbers." Coarse grass at the
 15.      Arkansas River.--At three miles the road passes the
            mouth of Purgatoire Creek. Camp is below Bent's Fort.
            Good grass here.
 24.      Arkansas River.--Pass Bent's Fort. The grass is
            excellent in the vicinity of the fort, but after this
            it is not so good. The road runs over a high and
            considerably broken country. Good camp.
 11.      Arkansas River.--Opposite the mouth of the Apishpa
            Creek; good camp. The Huerfano Mountains and Spanish
            Peaks are in sight from the camp. The "Cherokee
            Trail" comes in from Arkansas near Bent's Fort, and
            leads to the gold diggings at Cherry Creek.
  9.      Arkansas River.--Opposite the mouth of the Huerfano
            Creek. Good camp, and a ford opposite Charles
            Audebee's house.
 12.      Arkansas River.--At this point the Cherokee trail bears
            to the right and leaves the river. The left-hand, or
            river road, runs up to the old pueblo at the mouth of
            the Fontaine qui Bouille Creek. The right-hand road
            leads to the gold diggings.
 15 3/4.  Fontaine qui Bouille.--The road strikes in a northwest
            course over the rolling country, and comes upon the
            creek at a most beautiful camp, where there is a
            great abundance of good wood, water, and grass. The
            wood, water, and grass are good at all points on the
            Fontaine qui Bouille, and travelers can camp any
            where upon this stream.
 17 1/2.  Fontaine qui Bouille.--Here the road forks, one running
            up the river, and the other striking directly across
            to the divide of the Arkansas and Platte. I prefer
            the left-hand road, as it has more water and better
            grass upon it.
Illustration: Sangre de Cristo Pass.

  6 1/2.  Forks of the "Fontaine qui Bouille."--The road to
            Cherry Creek here leaves the "Fontaine qui Bouille"
            and bears to the right. There is a large Indian trail
            which crosses the main creek, and takes a northwest
            course toward "Pike's Peak." By going up this trail
            about two miles a mineral spring will be found, which
            gives the stream its name of "The Fountain that
            Boils." This spring, or rather, these springs, as
            there are two, both of which boil up out of solid
            rock are among the greatest natural curiosities that
            I have ever seen. The water is strongly impregnated
            with salts, but is delightful to the taste, and
            somewhat similar to the Congress-water. It will well
            compensate any one for the trouble of visiting it.   
 17 1/2.  Black Squirrel Creek.--This creek is near the crest of
            the high divide between the Arkansas and Platte
            Rivers. It is a small running branch, but always
            affords good water. There is pine timber here, and
            the grass is good on the prairies to the east. This
            is a locality which is very subject to severe storms,
            and it was here that I encountered the most severe
            snow-storm that I have ever known, on the first day
            of May, 1858. I would advise travelers to hasten past
            this spot  as rapidly as possible during the winter
            and spring months, as a storm might prove very
            serious here.
 14.      Near the head of Cherry Creek.--The road crosses one
            small branch at four miles from Black Squirrel Creek;
            it then takes up to an elevated plateau, which in a
            rainy season is very muddy. The camp is at the first
            timber that is found, near the road, to the left.
            There is plenty of wood, water, and grass here. There
            is also a good camping-place at the small branch that
            is mentioned.
 10.      On Cherry Creek.--There is good grass, wood, and water
            throughout the valley of Cherry Creek. The mountains
            are from five to ten miles distant, on the left or
            west of the road, and when I passed there was a great
            abundance of elk, deer, antelope, bear, and turkeys
            throughout this section.
  7.      On Cherry Creek.--Good camp.
 11.      On Cherry Creek.--Good camp.
 17.      Mouth of Cherry Creek, at the South Platte.--Good camp,
            and a town built up since I passed, called "Denver
 Total distance from Westport to the gold diggings, 685 1/4

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