Tuesday……….August 21, 1883.
FROM EASTERN NEVADA.
Early Austin—The Mecca of Fortune Hunting Pilgrims—The Camels—Architectural and Statistical—Family Additions—Austin Comstockers—Autographic Album Atrocities—Choice Brook Trout—Old Sports—A Rich Strike and Waterbury Wind-up—Suggestive Statistics—Patience.
[Correspondence of the Enterprise.]
AUSTIN, Nev., August 17, 1883.
Like a properly constituted and well wound-up Waterbury watch, Austin continues to tick, roll and wag along with the rest of the world, and recent immigrant, especially those who [do] not believe in the historical cloudburst and flood of ’78 can hardly realize that twenty years ago Austin was the grand Mecca of the Pacific Coast, toward which fortune hunters rushed pell mell from all directions. Main street was blockaded with teams day and night, and there was hardly room for anybody to turn around. And among the features of the rushing pilgrimage, giving it a decidedly Mecca-ish appearance, is this recorded in M. J. Farrell’s address, delivered before the Society of Reese River Pioneers:
"I recollect the advent of the train of camels, and the crowds they attracted. They were hideously ugly, carried immense loads, and were engineered by a red-headed Oriental from county Cork. They were not impeded in their progress by blockades, as their presence as a terror to all the horse kind."
Of course the numerous pack trains of mules and donkeys took to the sagebrush in demoralized dismay when these awful looking beasts came stalking along with rod strides, humping their huge loads high in the air and assuming a proscriptive right to the road through their unrivaled ugliness. It is not recorded that they made many trips across the deserts to this Mecca, for the other pilgrims were naturally inclined to "mecca" row about it. We all remember how these imported camels and dromedaries were ranched and cultivated by some French Arabs on Carson river, and were used to pack salt and fuel to Virginia City in the early days, and how an ordinance had to be passed against their coming into the city in the day time on account of the disastrous fright they gave to teams on the roads, and in fact all other living animals. It is a comfort to know that these ungainly, unprofitable beasts have permanent evacuated this section, and are now roasting their humps beneath the red hot skies of Arizona. They would scare anything but a street locomotive.
When Mr. Farrell arrived here, in April, 1863, there was but one house—unfinished—and a few brush shanties, but in five months, he says, 366 houses were erected, not counting tents and shanties. Professor Silliman enthusiastically predicted that Austin would have a population of 50,000 in ten years, and during the Summer of ’63 Mr. Farrell estimates the population at 10,000, which was as far as Silliman’s prediction ever reached toward fulfillment. It has dwindled since to less than 3,000. When the excitement died out and the reaction took place, some of the retiring multitude took away their houses with them, especially those who resided in tents. But they could not take away any of the original stone, brick or adobe buildings, or those made of mud and brush, nor the solid little stockades and dug-outs. Thus it is that Austin today contains more queer little antiquated dwellings than any other town of its size and permanency on the Pacific Coast. Many of the little stockades, made of poles or small logs stood on end and the chinks mudded up, still remain, with their roofs of brush and mud, old tin cans, shakes, etc., although many of them have been done away with in the way of firewood, or utilized in the construction of more pretentious yet not more comfortable structures. There are some very neat granite and brick buildings in Austin for business and public purposes, and for real comfortable dwellings there are numerous ones of the brick and adobe order of architecture which cannot be beat. No new ones have been built for some time, as the old ones are good and sufficient. But a very appreciable feature consists in the numerous additions to the original was of mud, adobe or brick, but later, additions have been made, to accommodate additions to the family—one after the other extending the roof and spreading out until many a dwelling or family encampment resembles an old hen spreading herself, trying to set on an unusual number of eggs.
As a large portion of the first population of Eastern Nevada came from the Comstock, so now Austin contains many an old Comstocker, and frequent additions come from that quarter. George Laity, a long time well known resident of Gold Hill arrived a day or two ago, and has gone to work in the mines. He sees plenty of far richer and prettier ore than he ever saw in his mining experience on the Comstock, but infinitely less of it. He has been down in Arizona, and other barbarous localities, but is willing to swear that Gold Hill, and the rest of the Comstock, is God’s country, and its people the best in the world. But he has not been in Austin long. Comstockers very naturally assimilate and affiliate with Austin above or below ground.
The autographic album ruction has not died out yet. Every young lady of from fourteen to forty-five Summers has her album, and industriously tries to get it filled with the autographic emanations of her personal friends, and people of note about town. Among the most recent coming under my observation are the following specimens:
"Be kind to thy mother; she Loves the best
Of all other friends on this earth;
They father's the next best friend that thou has,
And Austin’s the place of thy birth."
"When I am dead and in my grave,
And all my bones are rotten,
This little book will tell my name
When I am quiet forgotten."
"Remember me when this you see,
And bare me in your
minde—that a friend in
need is few indeed, and
Seldom that you find."
Oh, dear! Such dreadful taffy; such overweening vanity. The next Legislature should take this thing in hand. The last one was not capable.
On both sides of this, the Toiyabe range, are several good creeks or mountain streams of water, flowing into Smoky and Reese River valleys, which are well stocked with the natural brook trout of the county. These desirable fish are from six to ten inches in length, streaked with a blush of red on their sides, and taste just as delicious as the Eastern brook trout. The other day two of our local fishing sports, J. A. Wright and D. B. Starrett, rode out to Big creek, some eight or ten miles, fished awhile, and then crossed the summit to Kingston canyon, where they struck a good lead of trout. Wright himself, who is the boss expert in that line, caught fifty-two trout in half an hour. They brought home part of a wagon load and treated their friends.
Our mutual friend Spykens has struck a two-inch bonanza of $20,000 ore out at Yankee Blade, and is prosperous. He buys his whisky by the gallon now, instead of smuggling it home by the pocket flask, as formerly. His nose is assuming an aristocratic crushed huckleberry color, and he has treated himself to a Waterbury watch. Yet he is not happy. According to regular requirements it takes just two minutes in each twenty-four hours to wind up a Waterbury watch; one that will run. That amounts to twelve hours in the course of a year, or one day of his life every two years. He feels miserable as he contemplates how much time he is thus winding and wasting away in keeping that Waterbury time piece agoing, and actually shortening the number of his days. That watch cost him only about $3, right straight from the factory. It is the best time-keeper in the world, yet he sees that it is costing him a serious portion of his life. Every night, as he winds it up before going to bed, he gets nervous, and feels that he is simply and literally Patience on a picket fence winding up a Waterbury watch. ALF DOTEN.