Wednesday . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 30, 1884
FROM EASTERN NEVADA.
Reese River Valley, Topographically, Agriculturally and Hydropathically Considered -- A Very Peculiar River -- Nevada's Isolated Mining Points -- Reese River Architecture -- Immense Deposits of Roofing Material -- Political Ruminations -- Health Problems -- A Pump from the Comstock -- A Bloody Tongue Episode -- A Gagged Official -- Gone to Lake Tahoe -- 601 -- Circus – Moon.
Correspondence of the Enterprise.
AUSTIN, Nev. , July 26, 1884
In my last letter I did not record quite all the notes and observations taken on my recent trip through the principal agricultural and cattle cultural range of this section, so here we have a little more on the subject:
REESE RIVER VALLEY
Is about 150 miles long, its mouth intersecting Humboldt river and the Central Pacific Railroad at Battle Mountain, some ninety miles from Austin. Like most Valleys it is widest at the lower end, but at this point, and for forty miles above, it averages about six or eight miles in width. It is a treeless expanse of territory, monotonous, with gently indulating sagebrush wastes and occasional alkali patches, yet embracing vast ranges of excellent pasturage and broad wire--fenced tracts of good haying and agricultural ground, especially bordering along the river. White sage, the best Winter feed for cattle and sheep in the country, is abundant in many places along the borders of the valley on either side. Some of the creeks or mountain canyons, which open into the valley, also contain good pasture ranges and agricultural lands, where excellent potatoes and other vegetables are raised, also sundry fine fields of alfalfa. One would naturally suppose that in this fertile valley, supplied with pure, soft river water, trees should line the banks of the stream, yet not even shrubbery is to be seen. Various parties have made attempts to establish shady groves and orchards, but their trees all died, owing probably to an overplus of alkali or other detrimental element in the soil. This total absence of trees makes the valley look much more barren than it really is.
It seems like a burlesque to call such an insignificant, uncertain stream a river. Where not obstructed by dams, it is, generally speaking, but a few yards or feet in width, and its volume of water is decidedly an indefinite, unknown quantity. Only about once in ten years, for instance during a season of extraordinary wetness like the past Winter and Spring, this stream becomes of sufficient magnitude to flow from its source continuously through to its intersection with the Humboldt -- 150 miles. During ordinary seasons it is not to be seen flowing one-third of that distance. Opposite here is a section of it which holds good from Jones' ranch, where it rises to the surface through large springs, to Wiggin's ranch, a distance of twelve miles, to where it abruptly sinks. The old emigrant and stage road across the continent at this point crosses the valley, and here the weary pioneer emigrant found good water and good feed for his suffering cattle and horses. Above Jones' is a section of ten miles where the river flows under ground. It is a fine, fertile section, and water is naturally found in abundance by sinking a few feet most anywhere -- soft, pure and cool. Above this ten-mile section to its mountain source, a distance of about forty miles, the stream is continuous and flows in the light of day. Trout, suckers and catfish are found in it, the latter being planted there some years ago.
Viewed from the valley, the mines of Austin, or Lander Hill, look like an isolated strike, so to speak. They were found through being on the old overland emigrant line of travel, and from the distance show no marked, natural configuration, or prominent mineral formation or outcrop to distinguish them from the general characteristics of numerous similar localities to be seen all along the Toiyabe range. A large amount of prospecting work is observable at various equally eligible points, but with no satisfactory result. Perhaps, however, equally as good or better mines may be eventually discovered at various neighboring points. The rich mines of the Comstock, Eureka, White Pine and Pioche are similarly and unreasonably isolated. The mines of Como are also remarkably isolated, but they never paid the tenth part of any per cent on the money and labor invested.
The houses of the numerous ranchers along Reese River Valley are not of the Grecian or Doric order of architecture, but rather of the Greaseran or Adobic style, being composed of adobes or sundried mud bricks, like the old houses of native Californians and Mexicans. These Reese River adobes are made about eight inches wide, a foot long and four inches thick, from the best of alkali mud, and form the walls and partitions. The roofs are rather flat, and made of willow poles covered with sagebrush, and good, stiff mud slapped on top three or four inches thick. It is immensely cheaper than shingles, is this mud, for it is proof against water, snow, fire or frost. Should the roof happen to leak a little at any point, some time, a shovelful of mud will stop it perfectly and effectually in no time at all. These houses need no painting, but are of a delicate light slate-color all over -- it would be like painting the lily. The doors, floors and windows form the only expense in building Reese River residences, but they are tastefully fitted up inside, and are among the most comfortable houses in the world. This alkali mud roofing is found in natural deposits a mile wide and a thousand feet deep all over the valley. There is enough of it to roof all the cities in the world. What a fine chance for an enterprising speculation.
Politics begins to convulse this section considerably, and quite frequently three or four or five citizens, responsible or otherwise, are to be seen at a time earnestly discussing the various merits, demerits, availability and chances of the respective aspirants for nomination by either of the contesting political parties. Jones seems to have the inside track as his own successor to the United States Senate, and Stephens, Woodburn, Powning and Foley are favorably mentioned for Congressional Representative. Congressman Cassidy has made a good record for himself, not being backward in expressing his views on any of the political questions affecting this State or the nation generally. Austin, at the last State election, gave a majority of 22 for Governor, but 3 Republican majority for Lieutenant Governor, 2 Republican for Congressman and 33 Republican for Supreme Judge, therefore can be counted Republic an by a small majority. Lander county, however, went Democratic for all the State officers except Treasurer, Uncle George Tufly coming out 26 ahead. On this subject of political points, our mutual friend Spykens says the new Democratic platform reminds him of the 2nd Chapter of 2nd Peter, in the New Testament, the 19th and 22nd verses of which read as follows:
"While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption, for of whom a man is overcome" of the same is he brought in bondage. "
"The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
Thus far the Summer heat in this section has not been oppressive, in fact not quite up to the usual standard by half a dozen degrees, to-day being the hottest of the season -- ninety degrees. It would seem like healthy weather, yet there is considerable sickness prevailing in the form of sore throat, influenza, etc., with a few fatal cases resulting. This is evidently a sympathetic community, so to speak; when one person gets sick the whole town follows suit. Three or four months ago everybody had the measles, and now it is the influenza; cholera morbus or something of the sort may be expected next.
THE BIG PUMP.
The big Cornish plunger pump of the Manhattan Company got started a little on Monday afternoon for the first time, and next day went into active service, working just as smoothly and regularly as though it had been successfully running for six months, and it continues doing so. With a ten-inch pump column it raises the water at two lifts 570 feet, draining all the mines to the depth of 200 feet below the present general workings. It took over fifteen tons of counter-weight ballast in the balance bob to stand off the wiight of the pump rod. The engine is of the horizontal style, seventy--five--horse power capacity, with Putnam valve gearing, and three feet stroke. Its foundations, including the pit for the bob, are of the most massive and substantial character possible. The pump has an eight-foot stroke, and can raise 15,000 gallons an hour, although it is now running at about half that rate, nothing more being required at present. A commodious building is now being erected over the whole plant, and when all the carpentering is completed the works will be the best of the company, and compare favorably with the best in the State. The credit of adopting, procuring and placing this effective pumping proposition is due to Superintendent Curtis, and his views and plans have been most faithfully and well carried out by Chief Engineer John Frost. It gives all needed facilities for draining the mines and working hundreds of feet below the present lowest plane of operations more economically than ever, adding much to the prosperity of the company and the resultant benefit of the community generally.
TONGUE AND PEN.
Day before yesterday a well known and popular gentleman, who evidently has not got wholly weaned from his schoolboy habits, while writing in the discharge of regular official duty, inadvertently drew his pen across his mouth or tongue, spitting out the ink, as usual. It was a steel pen, and one side of it was defectively sharp. He hardly knows himself how it was done, but a deep gash was made into his tongue, which bled profusely, a blood vessel having evidently been cut. He had to calI on a surgeon, who applied powerful styptics and a big wad of lint. Never was a poor fellow in such a queer fix. There were times when he was obliged to speak, but his mouth was too full for utterance, and the moment the impediment was removed his tongue bled more copiously than ever. He has scarcely eaten anything for two days, and could only drink a glass of beer occasionally by sucking it through a reed pipe-stem. The last two nights he has been compelled to sleep with his mouth jammed full of lint and a bandage tied across to keep it in place. Today the bleeding has ceased, and the wound is evidently healing, but he is still apprehensive, and swears that never, never again will be use his tongue for a pen-wiper.
Superintendent Curtis, of the Manhattan, has gone with his wife and two or three lady and gentleman friends for a two weeks' vacation at Lake Tahoe. They proposed stopping at John McKinney's place, on the other side of the lake, and are doubtless having a good time at that most enjoyable of all Summer resorts.
Private picnic parties are frequent, though there are no shady groves to go to, yet the shade of a buggy, by the side of a stream of water, with green grass or pig weeds to sit on, is better than nothing, and then there's the ride there and back. The grand picnic excursion of the Miners' Union down the valley to Vaughn's ranch, next Saturday, promises to be a very successful and enjoyable affair. The cars run directly to the grounds, and there are some willows and grass and a clear, running brook. Even grass widows are popular at an Austin picnic.
A day or two ago two suspicious characters, called "Wild Bill" and the "Broadcloth Gambler," were notified to leave town, because they were thought to be connected with a recent attempt at burglary. They left.
Cole's Circus is the best billed of any ever appearing here, and the Piutes are in a maze of wonder and delight, contemplating the gorgeous galleries of magnificent pictures, covering whole sides of buildings. Every Piute, little and big, will be present when the show opens.
Again comes up the popular dispute as to whether the present new moon is a dry or a wet one. The established rule is that when it tips up so that the old Indian hunter can't hang his powder horn on to the lower point, it is a dry -- or a wet one -- or both -- I forget which. Anyhow it is a correct and reliable rule.