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Humboldt river, only reaching stratified rocks at the Humboldt mountains, towards the source of the river, in the evening ; and the next morning found ourselves near Ogden, where I changed for the Denver and Rio Grande Railway, in order to see a different portion of the mountains, two hundred miles further south, and to visit Colorado Springs and the celebrated Garden of the Gods.
I left Ogden at 10 a.m. July 14, passing Salt Lake City, about fifty miles beyond which, near Provo, we entered a fine gorge of the Wasatch Mountains, leading to an upland valley with abundant vegetation. The cliffs were of a red conglomerate with pebbles, and among the flowers I noticed Cleome integrifolia, yellow cenotheras, handsome thistles, a fine golden-rod, and red castillejas. When the train stopped at small stations, for water or other causes, I would jump out and gather any flowers I saw near me, keeping a sharp watch for the conductor's cry of “All aboard !” Having with me Coulter's "Flora of the Rocky Mountains," I was able to make out many of the species. Climbing up a high, open valley, we reached Soldier Summit, where there was half a mile of snow-sheds. This was the divide between the Salt Lake and the Colorado basins, and we then entered Pleasant Valley, and winding about came to the picturesque Castle Gate, where a mass of rock like the ruins of a mediæval castle rises close to the line. Passing this, we entered an almost desert region, with great bare flats of mud and clay, with occasional low ridges of gravel. During the night in this district we were stopped by a "wash out;" a few hours' deluge of rain having fallen, turned dry channels into roaring torrents, and destroyed the track for some yards in several places. These were rapidly repaired by building up the line with sleepers laid across and across to the required level, and at eight o'clock we went on again; but were again stopped early in the afternoon. Here I strolled about, but it was a miserable desert, with only a few stunted, ugly spiny bushes. Some of the cliffs around were splendid, in strata of red, yellow, bluish, and green. This district is between the Green and the Gunnison rivers, the latter a very turbid stream,
Here were a few patches of cultivated land and little rude cabins.
Entering Clear Creek valley, the country becomes smoother, the hills more rounded and more clothed with vegetation, like parts of Wales or Scotland, with some pines and cedars. The occasional bare slopes show a covering of earth and boulders, washed from above by the melting of the winter snows. Here we wound in and out among the mountains up to the heads of all the lateral valleys, then returning on the other side so as to see the line we had come by many hundreds of feet below us. Several short snowsheds were passed through before reaching the summit between two branches of the Gunnison river, just short of eight thousand feet above the sea. On the east side we again wound about, in and out of valleys, sometimes round such sharp curves that the train made almost a semicircle, till in the evening we reached Cimarron, where we stopped the night, as there is a fine gorge of the Upper Gunnison river through which the line passes.
Starting at 9 a.m. on July 16, we at once entered the gorge, and for fifteen miles had a succession of very fine scenery, the gneissic rocks forming grand precipices, sometimes overhanging, or in picturesque forms with towers and pinnacles, at others widening into little basins with fine peeps of mountain summits. Pines and firs clung to the rocks, increasing the beauty of the scene. On emerging from the gorge, the valley became wider with moderate slopes and table-topped mountains. We reached Gunnison (7580 feet) at 11.10 a.m., situated in a rather bare open plain, with rounded hills; then entering an open upland valley with fine-looking meadows full of flowers—a perfect garden speckled with pale and dark yellow, pink, blue, and white flowers—the most flowery valley I have seen during my American tour, and the only one that equalled the finest of the European Alps. I could distinguish great patches of dodecatheon, masses of lupins, and white and pink gilias. Then we came to patches of pines and firs, and reached Sargent, 8400 feet above the sea, and I should think a fine station for a botanist at this time of the year. VOL. II.
From here we entered a series of high branching valleys, up and round which we wound to ascend to Marshall Pass, the summit level of the main range of the Rocky Mountains, at an elevation of 10,850 feet. Stopping a few minutes on the summit, I saw many fine flowers, among which was a pentstemon with blossoms of a very dark vinous purple. The descent into the Upper Arkansas valley was very interesting from the way we entered and wound round the head of every lateral valley to gain distance for the descent at a practicable slope, so that in one place we could see three lines of the railway, one below the other, which we had just passed along. Salida, where we stayed to dine, is in a flat valley near the sources of the Arkansas river, and on leaving it we soon entered upon a very fine narrow valley with lofty mountains of conical or pyramidal forms, either smooth or jagged. Then we came to a granite district, with tors of strange and fantastic forms, with huge blocks, peaks, and balanced rocks, like hundreds of Dartmoor tors crowded together. Then more open rocky valleys before we reached the “ Royal Gorge,” where we beheld towering rocks of fantastic form and colouring closing in upon the river and hardly leaving room for the railway. In places there were vertical precipices about a thousand feet high, side cañons like narrow slits, or winding majestic ravines, often with vertical walls, or with quartz dykes running up the precipitous valley sides, and always the river roaring and raging in a tumultuous flood close alongside of us. It was a fine example of the cañons of the Rocky Mountains, and of the skill and enterprise required to build a railway through such a country. But there are many other lines which penetrate still wilder gorges, and which have overcome much greater difficulties, and I greatly regret I could not afford the time and cost of visiting these. As compared with Switzerland, the Rocky Mountains are very poor in snow-clad peaks and high alpine scenery, but are quite equal, and perhaps even superior, in the number, extent, and grandeur of its cañons or deep valley-gorges.
On leaving this gorge the country became flat and