California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about California.

  The Author and his friends leave Sutter’s Fort
  Tents in the bottom
  A caravan in motion
  Green hills and valleys
  Indian villages
  Californian pack-Horses
  A sailor on horseback
  Lunch at noon
  A troublesome beast
  Sierra Nevada
  First view of the lower mines
  How the gold is dug and washed
  The “cradle”
  The diggers and their stock of gold
  A store in course of construction
  The tent is pitched
  The golden itch
  First attempts at gold-finding
  A hole in the saucepan
  Sound asleep.

Sunday, June 4th.—­The morning we left the Fort the scene was one of great excitement.  Down in the bottom some twenty tents were pitched, outside which big fires were smoking; and, while breakfast was being prepared, the men of each company were busily engaged in saddling their horses and arranging their baggage; several wagons and teams were already in motion, following the road along the windings of the river.  The tents were soon all struck, the smoke from the fires was dying away, and a perfect caravan was moving along in the direction of the now no longer ridiculed El Dorado.

We pushed along, as may be believed, with the utmost impatience, conjuring up the most flattering visions of our probable success as gold-hunters.  The track lay through a spacious grassy valley, with the Americanos River winding along it, on our left hand.  At first, the stream was nearly two miles distant from the track of our caravan, but as we advanced we approached its banks more nearly.  The country was pleasant, consisting of a succession of small hills and valleys, diversified here and there by groves of tall oak trees.  We passed several wretched Indian villages—­clusters of filthy smoky hovels, and now and then caught sight of the river and the line of oak trees which bordered it.  We managed tolerably well with our horses, but it requires great experience to be able to fasten securely the loads of provisions and stores which they carry on their backs.  Flour, of course, formed the principal article of our commissariat.  This was packed up in sacks, which were again enclosed in long pockets, made of hides, and called “parfleshes,” the use of which is to defend the canvas of the sacking from being torn by branches of fern and underwood.  The sacks we secured on strong pack-saddles, between which and the back of the horse were some thick soft cloths.  All our baggage-horses were furnished with trail ropes, which were allowed to drag on the ground after the horse, for the purpose of enabling us to catch him more readily.  Besides the animals we rode, we had seven horses, for the conveyance of our provisions, tents, etc.  The two we bought from Captain Sutter, though strong, were skittish, and gave us much trouble, for our newly engaged servant, whose name is James Horry, knew more about harpooning and flenching whales than about the management of horses.  He was certainly willing and did his best, but he occasioned some mirth during the day’s march by his extreme awkwardness on horseback.  However, to do him justice, he bore the numerous falls which he came in for with great philosophy, starting up again every time he was “grassed,” and laughing as loudly as the rest.

Project Gutenberg
California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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