It is well carefully to observe these singular lava puddingstone masses, for, according to the theory of John Le Conte, the eminent physicist, recounted in another chapter, these were the restraining masses that made the Lake at one time eighty or a hundred feet higher than it is to-day.
Four miles from the Tavern we pass Engineer Von Schmidt’s old dam, for the history of which see the chapter on “The Truckee River.”
Near Deer Park Station is another spring on the right. In the old stage days “Pap.” Church always stopped here and gave his passengers the opportunity to drink of the water, while he made discourse as to its remarkable coldness. Five years ago a land slide completely buried it, and the road had to be cut through again. Ever since the spring has been partially clogged and does not flow freely, but it is cold enough to make one’s teeth ache.
In the winter of 1881-2 a land-and-snow-slide occurred a little beyond Deer Park Station. Watson was carrying the mail on snow-shoes at the time and saw it. There had been a five foot fall of snow in early March, and a week or two later came a second fall of seven feet. Something started the mass, and down it came, rushing completely across the river and damming it up, high on the other side, and the course of the slide can clearly be seen to-day. It is now, however, almost covered with recent growth of chaparral, and thus contributed to one of the most beautiful effects of light and shade I ever saw. The mountain slope on one side was completely covered with a growth of perfect trees. Through these came pencillings of light from the rising sun, casting alternate rulings of light and shadow in parallel lines on the glossy surface of the chaparral beyond. The effect was enhanced by the fleecy and sunshiny clouds floating in the cobalt blue above.
Near the mouth of Bear Creek the river makes a slight curve and also a drop at the same time, and the road, making a slight rise, presents the view of a beautiful stretch of roaring and foaming cascades. Here the canyon walls are of bare, rocky ridges, of white and red barrenness, with occasional patches of timber, but very different from the tree-clad slopes that we have enjoyed hitherto all the way down from the Tavern.
Beyond is a little grove of quaking aspens. Their leaves, quivering in the morning breeze, attract the eye. Crossing the railway, the road makes a climb up a hill that at one time may have formed a natural dam across the river. Here is a scarred tree on the left where Handsome Jack ran his stage off the bank in 1875, breaking his leg and seriously injuring his passengers.
Crossing the next bridge to the left at the mouth of Squaw Creek, six miles from the Tavern, on a small flat by the side of the river is the site of the town of Claraville, one of the reminders of the Squaw Valley mining excitement.
Just below this bridge is an old log chute, and a dam in the river. This dam backed up the water and made a “cushion” into which the logs came dashing and splashing, down from the mountain heights above. They were then floated down the river to the sawmill at Truckee.