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From the Clyde to California
Chapter IIl—Akron —Chicago —Ogden —Salt Lake City


OUR next journey was to the City of Akron, in the State of Ohio, a busy, thriving community of about 20,000 inhabitants. The Akronites are a go-a-head people, and don't stick at trifles; have their eyes open for all improvements, and the brains to take advantage of them. A gas company had the lighting of the city, but the Corporation and the public were not satisfied with the prices charged, so they got discontented with their gas company for charging too much, and the Corporation hung the city with oil lamps, and lamps and gas burned lovingly side by side for several nights, to the great satisfaction and enlightenment of the inhabitants. The gas company were beat, the lamps were victorious; but dull oil did not suit the tastes of the Akronites; they went in, head over heels, for the electric light, and got it too; and when all the lights are fixed up, Akron will be a city of light—not a light hid under a bushel, but a blaze of light in the midst of darkness.

The city stands on about two square miles, and two lights are already erected. One of the two is placed on an iron pillar of huge proportions; it is about two feet in diameter at the base, erected on a strong, solid foundation, and rises to the great height of 220 feet above the surface of the ground. The spire of the Mid Church in Greenock is about 16o feet or thereabouts, an estimate can thus be formed of the height of this huge iron pole. The other light is placed on a tall wooden mast fixed on the top of the College—for Akron boasts of a College also— and these two lights illuminate a large section of the city. We could read newspaper print with the greatest ease at a considerable distance—say as far as from the railway station to Cathcart Square, or about 300 yards from the light. When the eight lights are in full operation, Akron will be the best lighted of all cities. It is asserted that the electric light will be as cheap, if not cheaper, than gas, and water power not being handy, the electric machinery is driven by steam power.

Sir William Thomson recently pointed out Greenock as the most favourably situated town in regard to water power being applied for lighting by electricity. In the recent report by Mr James Wilson, C. E., of the Water Trust, the same idea is ventilated, and as deputations have become so common of late, a deputation of the Police Board might be despatched to Akron to look about them, and on their return report on what they saw! The deputation would enjoy the trip; whether the ratepayers would, is another question.

Akron is a most energetic, thriving, busy city. We visited a very large work, the Buckeye Agricultural Implement Manufactory. At the time of our visit they were manufacturing one hundred and five reaping machines daily, and sending out daily one hundred and thirty, thus reducing the stock they had accumulated during the winter months. The same company have another work equal in extent, and doing as much business, in another city. All the labour in these manufactories is done by the piece, and the workers make good wages. We also went over an extensive carriage factory, in which the average weekly out-put of "buggies" ranges about thirty. One marvels much where they all go to, and who buys them.

We left this city of light for Cleveland, from where, the same night, we took the steamer and crossed Lake Erie for Detroit. Arriving there the following morning, we went straight on to Pontiac, about thirty-five miles distant, and then proceeded to the residence of my apprentice master, who had for a considerable time carried on business in Greenock as a contractor, and though it was over thirty years since he left, we still continued to keep up a friendly correspondence, and to visit him was one of the objects I had in view when I left Scotland.

I remembered that he used to have a great antipathy to book canvassers and pedlars. When any of these entered his premises, if he was present they were very soon shown the way to the door, so I arranged with my travelling companion that he was to keep a little behind while I introduced myself to my friend as a pedlar.

He met me at the door, and asked me to enter. His features were little changed from what they were thirty years ago, with the exception that his hair was now white. Seeing him so little altered, I imagined that it was the same with myself, and that he would at once recognise me. However, in that I was mistaken. I produced a pair of spectacles, which I offered for sale, saying that he would find them a decided improvement to anything he had been in the habit of using, as they would have a tendency to renew his youth, and bring former days to his recollection. He now became as obstinate with me as he used to be with the pedlars. He would neither listen to me nor would he look at my spectacles, but began to denounce all hawked goods as trash, and took out of his pocket the pair he was using, and said he had lately bought these in Detroit for a quarter of a dollar, and he would defy me to produce as cheap and as good a pair out of my whole pack. I tried them, and said they were very good, but mine were a great deal better, and if after trying them he did not admit that it was so, I would make him a present of them. At last he put them on, and I handed him my card, saying that, as it was small print, it would be a good test. Looking at the name, he exclaimed, "What is this ?" Looking again, he says, "Greenock !" then looking at me, he said, "You are not the man named here." I assured him that I was. He said, " No, no, that cannot be." Re-asserting that I was no other, he walked out of the room, and instantly returned, and, standing at a distance, he eyed me from top to toe as if he had been taking my measure, at the same time saying, "You may have got my address from him, but one thing is certain, you are not the man whose name is on this card."

I then related to him several incidents of our former days, all of which he remembered and admitted to be perfectly correct, but still he had doubts as to my identity. While this was going on, I could not help saying to myself—May not the Claimant have been the right man after all? All this time we were standing; my friend now asked me to be seated, and brought in my companion and introduced us to his good lady and granddaughter, and made all haste to get his horse and buggy ready to go for our baggage.

The knowledge I had of his personal affairs in former times enabled me to dispel all doubt as to my identity, and the greater portion of the next few days was spent in answering questions, and relating the many changes and important events that had taken place in Greenock during the past thirty years, which appeared to be much appreciated by my old friend. He occupied a nice cottage about a mile distant from the town of Pontiac. The plot on which it is built is bounded at the back by a mill pond, in which there is a plentiful supply of fish and small turtle, which we frequently saw basking in the sun on a little eminence in the centre of the pond. Beyond this pond was a marsh, from which came a variety of sounds—some as if from a wild bull, while others were hoarse and short, as if you had struck a coarse table bell and instantly put your hand on it and stopped the sound. We were told that it was the cry of the bull-frogs. We went down several times, but could never see them. We were anxious to see the little animal that could send forth such a volume of sound. Pontiac, which is in the State of Michigan, is a busy market town where farmers come to make purchases and dispose of their produce. In the main streets there is a row of stakes from six to eight feet apart, and about five feet high, extending along the kerb on both sides of the street. These are common to any one to tie up his horse while he attends either church or market. My companion often gave free expression to his feelings on the cruelty of the people in leaving their horses so long exposed under a scorching sun.

Our friend was much delighted in pointing out to us everything in which he knew they were ahead of us in the old country. A day was set apart for visiting places of interest, among which was the Michigan State Asylum for the Insane, which is a very imposing structure situated about three miles distant from Pontiac. In the portion of the building that is completed there are over three hundred patients, so that the Americans, along with all the good things they enjoy, have a pretty fair share of lunatics amongst them.

Our friend having considerable experience of the delay, expense and annoyance connected with purchasing or transferring a piece of land at home, was anxious that we should accompany him to the Government Land Agent's Office and to the Registration Office, where we would see the expeditious, simple and economical method of transacting business as practised by the Yankees.

On a previous occasion, while in 'Toronto, I had an opportunity of witnessing how expeditiously a land transaction there can be completed. I accompanied Mr Smith, who went to take off a new township (which, if I remember right, is ten miles square) of forest land, to clear it of the growing timber. The object of our visit was stated. The agent produced the map, pointed out the limits, stated the terms, and the transaction was completed with as little delay or ceremony as we would have here in purchasing a barrel of flour.

At the Register Office the books were produced, and we were shown the various stages through which several plots of ground had passed from the original purchase through a number of transfers, with mortgages and searches, some of which had been done without the assistance of an agent.

The following is what was given to us as the items of expense :-

The whole amount for title deed, mortgage and registration is seven dollars twenty-four cents, being under thirty shillings of our money—a mere fraction of what it would cost for similar documents at home.

It was during our stay here that the attack was made on the life of the President; the sad event caused great excitement, people driving in from the country to get the latest particulars. The morning following the dastardly attempt we were awoke about one o'clock by loud knocking at the door: this was one of the neighbours with the latest news, to the effect that there was still hope of the President's life.

Much to our regret, we had to make our stay short, and, parting with our old friend, we returned to Detroit and purchased railway coupons right on to San Francisco, taking the first train to Chicago, where we spent only two hours, as we intended spending a few days there on our return.

For many miles after leaving Chicago the fields are covered with various kinds of crops, but as we proceeded on our journey the principal crop grown is Indian corn. Orchards are plentiful, and occasionally vineyards were visible.

We arrived at Omaha, thus completing a third of our long journey in comfort and safety, and having stopped to change carriages, we travelled onwards. In a short time we gradually got into the midst of immense fields where cattle were seen grazing in thousands. The herdsmen are all mounted, and in several instances they had the cattle gathered in large groups, but for what object we could not learn. As seen in the distance the group of cattle reminded one of a fox-cover in Renfrewshire, the mounted herdsmen, the sportsmen round the cover and the stray dogs outside, kept up the resemblance. In some cases, where the cattle were not so closely tended by the herdsmen, and a stream or pool of water near, the cattle were to be seen standing in the water, nothing visible of them but their backs and heads, and seeming to enjoy their cold bath.

Along the railroad were to be seen great numbers of prairie chickens and huge butterflies, some of them of most beautiful colours. We were now running along the level prairie lands, where there was nothing to break the monotony of the view save a solitary tree now and then, or perhaps a farm hut away in the distance, reminding one of the ocean with a ship appearing occasionally on the horizon.

There are many villages along the line where the trains stop, some of which are kept up by the railway company, and at most of them there is a refreshment room or dining saloon, which is generally attended by black waiters. In some instances the blacks had given place to Chinese waiters, and everything in the shape of refreshment is served expeditiously, and on the shortest notice. At some of the stations there were to be seen Indians with their families—a wretched, dirty lot, quite different from the "noble red Indian" of the novelist. They did not beg, but merely sat in their dignity and dirt, and looked on. Some of their children, who had bows and arrows, were kept very busy by the passengers placing a coin on a peg, when the boy who struck it off with his arrow claimed it. At this work, the boys, who were from eight to ten years old, were remarkably clever, and the certainty of their shooting quite astonished the onlookers, The Indian dwellings were situated outside of the villages. They are called "dug-outs." The roofs of them were very like the potato pits on a Scotch farm.

At Larmie city we came across what was to us a singular spectacle. It was a train decked out in mourning. Some of the carriages had three huge black and white rosettes placed on each side of them, and black and white pennants and festoons hung from the roof on each side of the rosettes. This strange mourning display was said to be on the occasion of the death of one of the "conductors" of the line.

We were now far beyond the bounds of civilisation, save what was clustered in the villages along the line. The bones, white and bleached, of numerous cattle that had died, lay on each side of the rails. They lay in clusters here and there—some fresh looking, as if the animals had died but this season, and others as if they had lain for years.

We had traversed a great distance of level and undulating prairie land. Each little village along the line seemed the outposts of civilized life; and in the future this vast expanse will probably be a cattle-rearing, grain-growing country, whose surplus products will be carried by railway to the seaboard for shipment to other countries.

This Union Pacific Railroad is a great undertaking—a mighty agent in colonising and developing the vast resources of the lands through which it runs, and every year adds to the population, wealth, and trade of this portion of the United States.

Having been now two days on the train after leaving Omaha, and running a distance of about 940 miles, and 7,500 feet above the sea level, we passed from the territory of Wyoming into Utah. About twenty miles further on we arrived at Evanston, where the train stopped half-an-hour. This is. a thriving village, with about 2,000 inhabitants, where there are extensive sawmills and coal mines. The Railway Company own some of the mines, and also extensive engineering workshops, which employ a number of inhabitants all the year round. This station was very much admired by the passengers, most of whom dined at the Mountain Trout Hotel, where they were very expeditiously served by Chinese waiters, who were all dressed in their native costume, and wore their "ques." They all spoke good English, were very polite, attentive, and anxious to give information to all who asked it. The Chinese have a settlement here, with their Joss-house and other native attractions. On leaving the dining-room, our curiosity was excited by a number of Indians who had come upon the scene, with their children, some of them very gaudily dressed with shining trinkets, furs, and feathers, and their faces daubed over with red paint. They did not beg, but there was a vacant stare in their countenances which told its own tale; when anything was offered them, they took it as if with reluctance, and turned their faces away, putting one very much in mind of the look of a dog to which you had offered a large piece of bread.

While the train was stopped at one of the stations, a gaudily-dressed, tall, masculine-looking female Indian took up a position on the platform of our car. In her hand she carried a fine little tomahawk, very highly polished, and the handle decorated with rings and round- headed brass tacks. One was driven into the end of the handle, fixing a rosette of various coloured ribbons. The weapon seemed more ornamental than useful. When spoken to she did not answer. She was handed a coin, and asked if she could speak English, but she gave no symptoms of hearing, when one remarked that she was perhaps a dummy. The engine-driver, who had been looking on, said if we gave her two or three glasses of whisky we would very soon hear her speak English like a politician. He said the greater number of the Indians who frequented the stations pretended they had no English until they get drunk, and then they could speak English very well.

The Railway Company on this line allow the Indians to travel free upon all freight trains, so that it is quite common to see Indians and their families perched on the top of a truck of goods or in cattle trucks. Some of them travelled short distances by our train, but did not mix with the passengers. They kept on the platform outside. It is said that the Railway Company have got the Indians under the impression that they only have the right to ride free, because the railway belongs to them. Under this impression, they do their utmost to protect the line from being injured. It is well for the safety of the trains that the Indians should remain in that belief —were they to take up a position antagonistic to the railway, the consequences might be serious for both the Railway Company and the passengers.

From this point on to Ogden is about eighty miles, the line having a gradual fall of over 3,200 feet. This is the grandest, though the wildest and most dangerous, part of the journey. It is difficult to say whether there is most danger from the treacherous-looking narrow ledges, deep chasms, and sudden turns that the train has to follow along the margin of the Weber River, or from the shattered overhanging mountains which you imagine the vibration of the train would set in motion at any point. The close proximity of the mountains above and the rapid flowing of the river beneath give an apparent velocity to the train that is terrific. This feeling is intensified by the rushing sound of the train and the steam whistle, the echo of which is heard overhead reverberating from cliff to cliff as if you were in the midst of a thunder storm. Here the curves of the line are so sharp that the passengers in the front carriage are for a moment just within speaking- distance of those in the last carriage, when all of a sudden the front carriages turn in the opposite direction, and the train, which is over seven hundred feet long, assumes the form of the letter S. This exciting scene continues for more than thirty miles, until we pass the Devil's Gate and Slide, where we emerge into the open country where cultivation is carried to great perfection by the Mormon settlers. In a short time we arrive at Ogden City, where all have to change carriages, this being the western terminus of the Union Pacific and the eastern terminus of the Central Pacific Railway.

After an hour's delay, we take the train on the Utah Central Railroad to Salt Lake City—distance, thirty-two miles. The fare is about threepence per mile, and it is one of the best paying lines in the States. This railroad was one of the enterprises of Brigham Young. When the Union and Central Pacific Railroads were completed they met near Ogden, their combined length being 1,914 miles. Necessarily a great deal of material was left over, which was purchased and used in the construction of this line, which is thirty-two miles in length from Ogden to Salt Lake City, it being completed within nine months from the time the ground was broken. There was little cutting or filling up required, as it passed through a level track of country from five to six miles broad, having the Salt Lake within a mile and a-half on the right and a mountain range about four miles to the left.

There are several stations and villages along the line, the inhabitants of which are chiefly employed in agricultural pursuits. Arriving at Salt Lake City, and taking a run over it, we came to the conclusion that, with one exception, it was the finest city that we had yet visited, the streets being 130 feet wide, all set off at right angles and at such a distance from each other as to give ten acres to each building block. Some of these blocks are again sub-divided into four building plots, and those in the workmen's district are again sub-divided into eight building plots, giving one and a quarter acres to each plot. The ground is generally used as an orchard, and the houses are all placed back at a uniform distance from the line of the street, so that there are invariably fruit trees between the streets and the houses. Four of these blocks, containing over forty acres, are walled in and set apart for religious institutions. On one of these plots stands the Tabernacle, a large, rough-looking building, about two hundred and sixty feet long by one hundred and fifty feet wide and eighty feet high, with semi-circular ends, and covered with a dome roof, supported on a succession of stone abutments, each about ten feet broad and three feet thick.

The thickness of these abutments and the spaces between them, all of which are doors, form the exterior of the building. The breadth of the abutments runs in towards the centre of the building and forms the support for the back of the gallery, which is carried round the two sides and one end. At the other end is a platform, whereon the grand organ is placed, on each side of which are the seats for the choir, which numbers about four hundred voices—the one side being occupied by females and the other by males.

In a line right in front of the organ there are three pulpits, each being at a lower elevation as they recede from it. Elevated a little above the area beneath the third pulpit is the elders' bench. On each side of the pulpits are seats for those who take an active part in Church matters, and who occasionally address the audience. In the area there is a passage all round next to the external walls. Other three passages run the whole length of the area. In the middle passage, and right in the centre of the building, there is a grand ornamental fountain, from which, during service in summer months, there is a flow of iced water. In the roof there are several cupolas, and the ceiling is a complete network of festoons, formed of evergreens and flowers. Each panel on the front of the gallery has a shield or ornamental design, in the centre of which a letter is placed. These letters give the motto, "God Bless our Mountain Home."

Though there is accommodation in this building for thirteen thousand people, yet there is never any crushing or inconvenience on entering or leaving; those on each side of the centre passage walk along towards the exterior, and a door faces them at whatever point they reach. Three minutes are sufficient at any time to evacuate the whole building. The Tabernacle is used for worship during the summer season only, it being too large for artificial heating.

In the winter season the meetings are held in the assembly hall, which is a beautiful granite building erected on the temple block alongside of the Tabernacle. It has a centre tower, two spires and a great many minerets, is heated by steam, lighted with gas, and has a grand organ, and is seated to hold about three thousand people. On the east of the same block a temple on a grand scale is at present in course of erection. The mason work is about forty feet above the surface. Judging from what is already done, this promises to be the most substantial and picturesque building in the city.

On the occasion of our visit, had we not known that we were in the Mormon Tabernacle, we could not have observed the difference from a Presbyterian Church by either the rendering of the service or the matter of the discourses, which, after the usual prayer and praise, were delivered by an occasional layman, who left his pew and ascended one of the pulpits. At the close of the service the President stated that since his last intimation eighty- one thousand dollars had been subscribed towards the erection of the new temple, and there were now only five thousand more required for its completion. There was no money collected at either of the diets.

There is a general impression that Salt Lake City is inhabited by Mormons only. Such is not the case now, though it was so at first. It is said that there are twenty-one thousand Mormons and about seven thousand Gentiles, who are of various religious denominations. The Methodists, Episcopalians, and the Presbyterians have each their places of worship in the city.

After dinner, we resolved to have a view of the city and its surroundings from Ensign Peak, that being the mountain at the base of which the city is situated. Shortly after starting, we had a friendly chat with one of the settlers, to whom we made known our intention. He asked how long we expected it would take. On telling him, he advised us to go no further, assuring us that the distance was three times what we anticipated, and it would probably be dark before we reached the peak. We took the hint and postponed our trip till the following day, when we set out a-new, and long before arriving at the summit, we found we were much indebted to our adviser of the previous evening, and were forced to the belief that our vision as to distance was much more deceptive than usual, which defect we attributed to the rarified atmosphere and elevated position of the country.

Ascending towards the peak, the ground was literally teeming with animal life, of which every step gave an indication, by the efforts of numerous insects springing to the side as if to make way for us, conspicuous amongst them being the grasshopper, but very different from those we are accustomed to at home. Some of them were larger than the humming bird, their flight seldom exceeding more than from thirty to forty yards. We made several unsuccessful attempts to capture one, but, whenever we came within reach, it took a spring and repeated its flight with as much vigour as before, so we gave UI) the chase. There were indications of an old cart road a long way up the steep incline. This somewhat puzzled us, until we observed at various places little artificial mounds, one of them within a few yards of the summit. These had been thrown up by the original settlers when exploring the mountains for gold. The cart track referred to was that along which the workmen conveyed their implements as far up hill as that mode of conveyance would permit. No mineral having been found of sufficient value to remunerate the miner, Ensign Peak has been spared the indignity of being subjected to disfiguring operations, and is now likely to be left alone in its natural beauty.

Fatigued and out of wind, we arrived at the summit, and were amply rewarded for our labour in the magnificent and impressive scenery that lay stretched out before us. A little to the left, and apparently at our feet, stood the city, which is about three miles square, the ponderous Tabernacle and the half-built temple forming prominent features in the foreground. At the base of the mountain, and just in front of us, is the plain through which we had passed on arrival, beyond which is the green marsh land receding in the distance till it merges into the Salt Lake, whose water is seen reflecting, like a vast mirror, the different objects on its shores. To the left, and beyond the city, is the rich valley of the Jordan, covered with crops and studded with farm-houses, which seem like specks in the distance, and ultimately are lost to view before reaching the base of the mountains which enclose the valley on each side.

Some of the deep gorges and fissures on these bleak mountain sides are covered with snow, giving them a pleasant variegated appearance, in beautiful contrast to the alternately green and yellow fields in the plains beneath. The dissolving snow forming little streamlets, trickles down the slopes which, in former times, found their way through the barren plain into the Jordan, leaving little streaks of verdure along their course. What a contrast is the present scene with the past!

Thirty-four years ago, the evicted Mormons came upon the scene, claimed this desert as their home, and with firm resolution and willing hands turned Nature's stores to their own purposes. Having fixed on a pite for their city, they set to work to form ponds in the creeks, and to cut a canal along the sides of the mountains, intercepting the streamlets a little way above the plain, and leading the water to such points as were most advantageous for the irrigation of the plain. Descending from the peak, we stood for a little on the bank of the canal right over the city, and contrasted the barren sage- covered land above with the gardens and orchards of the city beneath and the rich, fertile fields beyond, and had to confess that whatever may have been the faults or failings of the Mormon settlers, the scene before us showed an amount of industry and perseverance that it is doubtful if it can be equalled anywhere else. They have, in very truth, made the "wilderness to bud and blossom as the rose."

From this point we descended into the city, and had a pleasant stroll through the streets, where we found much to engage our attention. From the canal we had just left there was a stream of water flowing down on both sides of each Street. The channel-ways for this water were about eighteen inches wide, nine inches deep, and formed of wood, with little sluices at points suitable for diverting part of the water into the gardens; its chief use being for irrigation and flushing of gutters, the domestic supply being brought in iron pipes from the water works at City Creek Canon, which is at such an elevation as gives sufficient pressure for extinguishing fires, and for that purpose there are stand-up hydrants placed at short distances along the sideways.

To these hydrants are attached the hose for watering the carriage-ways, which, during the summer months, is done every day except Sunday, this being part of the duty of the men of the fire brigade. Outside of each footpath, between the water course and carriage-way, there is a fine row of shade trees, while on the other side of the footpaths the trees of the orchards overhang the pathway, forming a pleasant, cool, shaded grove to walk under—the pleasure being much enhanced by an abundance of flowers, and all kinds of fruit overhead, quite within arm's-reach, and in many cases considerable quantities lying on the footpaths. None of the citizens are tempted to pull them, as everyone has an orchard of his own, in which there are apples, pears, cherries, peaches, apricots, grapes, &c. Every kind of fruit seems to grow to perfection, except the gooseberry, which is very small, hard, and covered with small thorns.

Tramway cars are run in every direction from the centre of the city to nearly three miles distant, the driver acting the part of guard. The cars are drawn by mules, each of which is branded with the letter Y, the latter being at one time the property of Brigham Young.

Not having observed any policemen in our rambles, we inquired how it was—if they were dressed in plain clothes? We were informed that there was no such official required; that the city was divided into wards, and each ward had a surveyor or master who attended to its interests, and intimated to the inhabitants when their labour was required to carry out any public improvement. There was no evading this intimation; each had to turn out or send a substitute, and had at all times to take the responsibility of protecting his own property. Our informant stated that formerly they had neither lawyers nor publicans, but now that a great many Gentiles had settled amongst them, both these occupations had got a footing.


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