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of the creek on which we had encamped, in a broken country, where, however, the dividing ridges always afforded a good road. Plants were few; and with the short swards of the buffalo grass, which now prevailed everywhere, giving to the prairies a smooth and mossy appearance, were mingled frequent patches of a beautiful red grass (aristida pallens), which has made its appearance only within the last few days. We halted to noon at a solitary cottonwood in a hollow, near which was killed the first buffalo, a fine bull.

"At noon, on the 23d, we descended into the valley of a principal fork of the Republican, a beautiful stream, with a dense border of wood, consisting principally of varieties of ash, forty feet wide and four feet deep. It was musical with the notes of many birds, which from the vast expanse of silent prairie around seemed all to have collected here. We continued, during the afternoon, our route along the river, which was populous with prairie-dogs (the bottoms being entirely occupied with their villages), and late in the evening encamped on its banks. The prevailing timber is a blue-foliaged ash (fraxinus, near F. Americana) and ash-leaved maple. With these were Fraxinus Americana, cotton-wood, and long-leaved willow.

"A few miles further we entered the valley of a large stream, afterwards known to be the Republican Fork of the Kanzas, whose shallow waters, with a depth of only a few inches, were spread out over a bed of yellowish-white sand



six hundred yards wide. With the exception of one or two distant and detached groves, no timber of any kind was to be seen. Our encampment this evening was three thousand five hundred feet above the sea. We travelled now for several days through a broken and dry sandy region, about four thousand feet above the sea, where there were no running streams, and water only to be found in small lakes that occurred occasionally among the hills."

By this expedition Mr. Fremont arrived at St. Vrain's Fort. Soon afterwards he travelled south.

Along the eastern spurs of the mountains, as we have already said, a trail passes through the country southward to the upper waters of the Arkansas. These streams water the southern part of the territory. Mr. Parkman describes this journey, singularly varied by mountain spurs, fertile "bottoms" watered by small streams, and by sandy "divides."

Mr. Fremont, by a trail of his own, had passed through the same region. In this journey he followed up the south fork of the Nebraska.

"July 8. On the easternmost branch, up which we took our way, we first came among the pines, growing on the top of a very high bank; and where we halted on it to noon, quaking asp (populus tremuloides) was mixed with the cotton-wood, and there were excellent grass and rushes for the animals.

"July 9. We turned to the eastward along the upper waters of the stream on which we had encamped, entering


a country of picturesque and varied scenery; broken into rocky hills of singular shapes; little valleys, with pure crystal water, here leaping swiftly along, and there losing itself in the sands; green spots of luxuriant grass; flowers of all colors, and timber of different kinds: everything to give it a varied beauty, except game. To one of these remarkably shaped hills, having on the summit a circular flat rock two or three hundred yards in circumference, some one gave the name of Pound-cake, which it has been permitted to retain, as our hungry people seemed to think it a very agreeable companion."

The next day, "leaving the encampment at six o'clock, we continued our easterly course over a rolling country near to the high ridges, which are generally rough and rocky, with a coarse conglomerate displayed in masses, and covered with pines. This rock is very friable; and it is undoubtedly from its decomposition that the prairies derive their sandy and gravelly formation. During the morning, our route led over a dark vegetable mould, mixed with sand and gravel, the characteristic plant being esparcette (onobrychis sativa), a species of clover, which is much used in certain parts of Germany for pasturage of stock, principally hogs. It is sown on rocky waste ground, which would otherwise be useless, and grows very luxuriously, requiring only a renewal of the seed about once in fifteen years. Its abundance here greatly adds to the pastural value of this region. A species of artemisia, in flower, was very com




mon along the line of road, and the creeks were timbered with willow and pine.

"July 11. I turned this morning to the southward, up the valley of Bijou. Esparcette occurred universally ; and among the plants on the river I noticed a few small bushes of the absinthe of the voyageurs, which is commonly used for firewood (the artemisia tridentata spoken of above).

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Yesterday and to-day the road has been ornamented with the showy bloom of a mountain lupinus, a character-. istic in many parts of the mountain region, on which were generally great numbers of an insect with very bright colors.

"We followed the stream to its head in a broken ridge, which, according to the barometer, was about seven thousand five hundred feet above the sea. This is a piny elevation, into which the prairies are gathered, and from which the waters flow, in almost every direction, to the Arkansas, Platte (or Nebraska), and Kanzas rivers; the latter stream having here its remotest sources. Although somewhat rocky and broken, and covered with pines, in comparison with the neighboring mountains it scarcely forms an interruption to the great prairie plains which sweep up to their bases.

"These plains sweep almost directly to the bases of the mountain barrier, an immense and comparatively smooth and grassy prairie, in very strong contrast with the black

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masses of timber and the glittering snow above them. With occasional exceptions, comparatively so small as not to require mention, these prairies are everywhere covered with a close and vigorous growth of a great variety of grasses, among which the most abundant is the buffalo grass (seeleria dactyloides). Between the Nebraska and Arkansas rivers, that part of this region which forms the basin drained by the waters of the Kanzas, with which our operations made us more particularly acquainted, is based upon a formation of calcareous rocks. The soil of all this country is excellent, admirably adapted to agricultural purposes, and would support a large agricultural and pastoral population. A glance at the map shows that this plain is watered by many streams. Throughout the western half of the plain these are shallow, with sandy beds, becoming deeper as they reach the richer lands approaching the Missouri river. They generally have bottom-lands, bordered by bluffs varying from fifty to five hundred feet in height. In all this region the timber is entirely confined to the streams. the eastern half, where the soil is a deep, rich vegetable mould, retentive of rain and moisture, it is of vigorous growth, and of many different kinds; and throughout the western half it consists entirely of various species of cottonwood, which deserves to be called the tree of the desert, growing in sandy soils where no other tree will grow; pointing out the existence of water, and furnishing to the traveller fuel and food for his animals.·


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