He was very fond of whiskey and generally full of it, particularly while remaining in the settlements, and would have his fun if he had to make it for himself. In the early ’30’s, Peg Leg Smith came down from his mountain home, sold his season’s trapping, then put up at the Nolan House at Independence, Missouri, for a general good time. In a very few hours he was drunk, and remained in that condition for some time. After he had been at the hotel a week, the clerk put his bill under the door of his room, simply to let him know the amount of his account. When Smith saw it he determined to have some fun out of it. He went down to the office apparently in a perfect rage, and holding the account up to the clerk, said he was grossly insulted; “here’s this paper stuck under my door, and it’s one of the greatest insults that I have ever received.” Smith kept on talking in this wild strain for a few moments, until he arrested the attention of every one in the bar-room. The poor clerk tried to pacify him, but, failing completely, sent for Mr. Nolan, the proprietor, who, coming in, tried to reason with Smith, but all in vain. Finally, Smith in great indignation called for his horse. It was a fine animal, as he always rode the best that could be procured. Upon this demand the landlord told him to pay his bill and he could have his horse. He went back to his room, procured his gun, and started for the stable, which was about fifty yards from the house. The hostler had already been ordered not to let him have the animal and to lock the stable door. Peg Leg on reaching the stable demanded his horse, but he was refused. He raised his gun and shot the lock all to pieces. The fellows who were looking on screamed with laughter and made fun, greatly to the mortification of Nolan. Smith then told the hostler to take good care of his horse, and, his apparent indignation changing to a smile, he walked back to the house. Then he invited every one up to the bar and spent twenty or thirty dollars before he left for his room.
In this story of the Salt Lake Trail, our account would not be complete without including the history of the great “Iron Trail” that now practically, for a long distance, follows the grassy path of the lumbering stage-coach, the slowly moving freight caravans drawn by patient oxen, or the dangerous route of the relatively rapid Pony Express.
No better story of the construction of the Great Union
Pacific Railroad can be found than the address of
its chief engineer, General G. M. Dodge, before the
Society of the Army of the Tennessee, at Toledo, Ohio,
on the 15th of September, 1888. He had been over
the whole region which extends from the Missouri River
to Salt Lake in the early ’50’s, and,
as has been said of him by a distinguished jurist,
He was an enthusiast who communicated enthusiasm to his