Out of Doors California and Oregon
By J. A. Graves
A Motor Trip in San Diego's Back Country A Hunting Trip in the Long Ago Professor Lo, Philosopher A Great Day's Sport on Warner's Ranch Boyhood Days in Early California Last Quail Shoot of the Year 1911 An Auto Trip Through the Sierras
To the memory of my sons Selwyn Emmett Graves and Jackson A. Graves, Jr. Both of whom were nature lovers, this book is lovingly dedicated.
J. A. Graves Frontispiece Mount Pitt Cuyamaca Lake, Near Pine Hills El Cajon Valley, San Diego County, from Schumann-Heink Point, Grossmont In San Diego County San Diego Mountain Scene Fern Brake, Palomar Mountain The Margarita Ranch House San Diego and Coronado Islands from Grossmont Grade on Palomar Mountain Pelican Bay, Klamath Lake On Klamath River Klamath Lake and Link River Spring Creek Wood River, Oregon The Killican Williamson River Scorpion Harbor, Santa Cruz Island Smugglers' Cove, San Clemente Island Arch Rock, Santa Cruz Island Cueva Valdez, Santa Cruz Island Lily Rock, Idyllwild The Entrance and Mission Arches, Glenwood Mission Inn, Riverside Magnolia Avenue and Government Indian School, Riverside Hemet Valley from Foothills on the South Ferris Valley Grain Field Orange Groves Looking Southeast Across Hemet Valley, California View from Serra Memorial Cross, Huntington Drive, Rubuidoux Mountain, Riverside Some Barley Victoria Avenue, Riverside A Rocky Stream Fern Brakes Four Feet in Height at Fine Hills California White Oak Another View of Spring Creek Harvesting in San Joaquin Valley Nevada Falls from Glacier Nevada Falls, Close Range Point Upper Yosemite Yosemite Falls Cedar Creek at Fine Hills Scene Near Fine Hills Lodge
A Motor Trip in San Diego's Back Country.
Come, you men and women automobilists, get off the paved streets of Los Angeles and betake yourselves to the back country of San Diego county, where you can enjoy automobile life to the utmost during the summer. There drink in the pure air of the mountains, perfumed with the breath of pines and cedars, the wild lilacs, the sweet-pea vines, and a thousand aromatic shrubs and plants that render every hillside ever green from base to summit. Lay aside the follies of social conditions, and get back to nature, pure and unadorned, except with nature's charms and graces.
To get in touch with these conditions, take your machines as best you can over any of the miserable roads, or rather apologies for roads, until you get out into the highway recently constructed from Basset to Pomona. Run into Pomona to Gary avenue, turn to the right and follow it to the Chino ranch; follow the winding roads, circling to the Chino hills, to Rincon, then on, over fairly good roads, to Corona. Pass through that city, then down the beautiful Temescal Canyon to Elsinore. Move on through Murrietta to Temecula.
Beyond Temecula three routes are open to you. By one of them you keep to the left, over winding roads full of interest and beauty, through a great oak grove at the eastern base of Mt. Palomar. Still proceeding through a forest of scattering oaks, you presently reach Warner's ranch through a gate. Be sure and close all gates opened by you. Only vandals leave gates open when they should be closed.
Warner's ranch is a vast meadow, mostly level, but sloping from northeast to southwest, with rolling hills and sunken valleys around its eastern edge. A chain of mountains, steep and timber laden, almost encircles the ranch. For a boundary mark on the northeastern side of the ranch, are steep, rocky and forbidding looking mountains. Beyond them, the desert. The ranch comprises some 57,000 acres, nearly all valley land. It is well watered, filled with lakes, springs, meadows and running streams, all draining to its lowest point, and forming the head waters of the San Luis Rey River.
You follow the road by which you enter the ranch, to the left, and in a few miles' travel you bring up at Warner's Hot Springs, a resort famed for many years for the curative properties of its waters. The springs are now in charge of Mr. and Mrs. Stanford, and are kept in an admirable manner, considering all of the difficulties they labor under. The run from Los Angeles to the springs is about 140 miles, and can be made easily in a day. Once there, the choice of many interesting trips is open to you.
After leaving Temecula, another road much frequented by the autoists is the right hand road by the Red Mountain grade to Fallbrook, either to Del Mar, by way of Oceanside, or into the Escondido Valley by way of Bonsal, Vista and San Marcos. The third route, the center one between those I have described, leads to Pala. With a party of five in a six-cylinder Franklin car, I went over the latter route on April 20th, 1911. Every inch of the road was full of interest. We passed through Pala, with its ancient mission of that name, and its horde of Indian inhabitants. The children of the Indian school were having a recess, and they carried on just about in the same manner that so many "pale-faced" children would. Leaving Pala, we followed the main road along the left bank of the San Luis Rey River—where the San Diego Highway Commission is now doing work, which will, when finished, bring one to Warner's ranch by an easy grade—until we had gotten a few miles into the Pauma rancho. We crossed the Pauma Creek, and some distance beyond it we left the river to our right, turned sharply to the left, and ran up to the base of Smith's, or Palomar Mountain. Then came the grade up the mountain.
If you are not stout-hearted, and haven't a powerful machine, avoid this beautiful drive. If you are not driving an air-cooled car, carry extra water with you. You will need it before you reach the top. The road is a narrow zigzag, making an ascent of 4000 feet in a distance of from ten to twelve miles of switch-backing around the face of a steep rock-ribbed mountain. To add to its difficulties, the turns are so short that a long car is compelled to back up to negotiate them. About an hour and a quarter is required to make the trip up the mountain. We did all of it on low gear. When the top is finally reached, the view of the surrounding country is simply beyond description.
The mountain oaks of great size and broad of bough, were not yet fully in leaf. Pines and cedars, and to my astonishment, many large sycamores, were mingled with the oaks. A gladsome crop of luscious grasses covered the earth. Shrubs and plants were bursting into bloom. As we moved on we saw several wild pigeons in graceful flight among the trees. After traveling the backbone of the mountain for some distance we came to a dimly marked trail, leading to the left. The "Major Domo" of our party said that this road led to Doane's Valley, and that we must go down it. It was a straight up and down road, with exceedingly abrupt pitches, in places damp and slippery, and covered with fallen leaves. At the bottom of the descent, which it would have been impossible to retrace, we came to a small stream. Directly in the only place where we could have crossed it a log stuck up, which rendered passage impossible. After a deal of prodding and hauling, we dislodged it and safely made the ford.
Doane's Valley is one of those beauty spots which abound in the mountains of California. Its floor is a beautiful meadow, in which are innumerable springs. Surrounding this meadow is heavy timber, oaks, pines and giant cedars. Pauma Creek flows out of this meadow through a narrow gorge, which nature evidently intended should some day be closed with a dam to make of the valley a reservoir to conserve the winter waters. We followed a partially destroyed road through the meadow to its upper end. Then as high and dry land was within sight we attempted to cross a small, damp, but uncertain looking waterway.
The front wheels passed safely, but when the rear wheels struck it they went into the mud until springs and axles rested on the ground. Two full hours we labored before we left that mud hole. We gathered up timbers and old bridge material, then jacked up one wheel a little way, and got something under it to hold it there. The other side was treated the same way. By repeating the operation many times we got the wheels high enough to run some timbers crosswise beneath them. We put other timbers in front and pulled out.
We soon reached Bailey's Hotel, a summer resort of considerable popularity. We continued up the grade until we came onto the main road left by us when we descended into Doane's Valley. We got up many more pigeons, graceful birds, which the Legislature of our State should protect before they are exterminated. We moved on through heavily timber-covered hills, up and down grade, and finally came out on the south side of the mountain overlooking the canyon, some 5000 feet deep, at the bottom of which ran the San Luis Rey River. What would have been a most beautiful scene was marred by a fog which had drifted up the canyon. But the cloud effect was marvelous. We were above the clouds. A more perfect sky no human being ever saw. The clouds, or fog banks, were so heavy that it looked as if we could have walked off into them. I never saw similar cloud effects anywhere else except from Mt. Lowe, near Los Angeles, and Mt. Tamalpais, in Marin County.
We now began our descent to Warner's Ranch. It was gradual enough for some distance, and the road and trees were as charming as any human being could desire. Finally we came out onto a point overlooking the ranch. The view was simply entrancing. Imagine a vast amphitheater of 57,000 acres, surrounded by hills, dotted here and there with lakes, with streams of water like threads of burnished silver glittering in the evening light, softened by the clouds hanging over the San Luis Rey River. There were no clouds on the ranch; they stopped abruptly at the southwest corner. This vast meadow was an emerald green, studded with brilliant colored flowers. Vast herds of cattle were peacefully completing their evening meal. The road down to the ranch follows a ridge, which is so steep that no machine has ever been able to ascend it. I held my breath and trusted to the good old car that has done so much for my comfort, safety and amusement. We were all glad when the bottom was reached. We forded the river and whirled away to Warner's Hot Springs, over good meadow roads, arriving there before 7 o'clock p. m.
Some day these springs are going to be appreciated. Now only hardy travelers, as a rule, go there. Their medicinal qualities will in time be realized, and the people of Southern California will find that they have a Carlsbad within a short distance of Los Angeles, in San Diego County. We slept the sleep of the tired, weary tourist that night.
The following day we passed in bathing in the hot mineral waters, sightseeing and driving around the valley.
Saturday morning at 7:30 o'clock we bade adieu to Mr. and Mrs. Stanford and left the ranch by way of the Rancho Santa Isabel. The rain god must have been particularly partial to this beautiful ranch this season. Nowhere on our trip did we see such a splendid growth of grass and flowers, such happy looking livestock, such an air of plenty and prosperity as we did here. Leaving the ranch at the Santa Isabel store, we took the Julian road, which place we reached after a few hours' riding over winding roads good to travel on, and through scenery which was a constant source of enjoyment. Julian is one of the early settlements of San Diego County. Mining has been carried on there with varying successes and disappointments these many years. Now apple raising is its great industry. The hillsides are given over to apple culture.
The trees are now laden with blossoms. As we topped a hill or crossed a divide before beginning an ascent or descent, the view backward of the apple orchards, peeping up over slight elevations in the clearings, was extremely beautiful. Leaving Julian, we whirled along over splendid roads through a rolling country, given over to fruit farming, stock raising and pasturage. We next reached Cuyamaca and visited the dam of that name, which impounds the winter rains for the San Diego Flume Company. The country around the lake showed a deficiency of rainfall.
The lake was far from full. We took our lunch at the clubhouse near the dam. After resting in the shade of the friendly oaks we then pursued our journey to Descanso. We passed through Alpine and finally entered the El Cajon Valley, famed far and wide for its muscatel grapes, which seem especially adapted to its dark red soil. The vines were in early leaf, and not as pleasing to the eye as they will be when in full bloom. Then came Bostonia, a comparatively new settlement, Rosamond, La Mesa, and finally we whirled off on a splendid road, through an unsettled country overgrown with sage and shrubs, to Del Mar.
The sky was overcast all the afternoon. A stiff ocean breeze blew inland, cool and refreshing. The entire day had been spent amid scenes of rare beauty. The wild flowers are not yet out in profusion, but enough were there to give the traveler an idea of what can be expected in floral offerings later in the season. It was early Spring wherever the elevation was 3500 feet or better. The oaks were not yet in leaf, the sycamores just out in their new spring dresses, the wild pea blossoms just beginning to open and cast their fragrance to the breezes.
Yellow buttercups adorned the warmer spots in each sunny valley. Way below us in the open country great fields of poppies greeted the gladdened eye. The freshness of spring was in the air. Each breath we inhaled was full of new life. The odor of the pines mingled its fragrance with that of the apple blossoms.
Del Mar is the Del Monte of Southern California. We arrived at Stratford Inn, at that place, which is as well furnished and as well kept as any hotel on the Coast. A small garden, an adjunct of the hotel, shows what the soil and climate of Del Mar is capable of producing. Tomato vines are never frosted. The vegetables from the garden have a fresher, crisper taste than those grown in a drier atmosphere. How good and comfortable the bed felt to us that night! Sleep came, leaving the body inert and lifeless in one position for hours at a time. The open air, the sunshine, the long ride, the ever changing scenery, brought one joyous slumber, such as a healthy, happy, tired child enjoys.
The next morning, after an ample, well-cooked and well-served breakfast, we took the road on the last leg of our journey. Over miles and miles of new-made roads we sped. Soon the long detour up the San Luis Rey Valley will be a thing of the past. The new county highway will pursue a much more direct course. We passed through miles of land being prepared for bean culture. Miles of hay and grain, miles of pasturage, in which sleek cattle grazed peacefully, or, having fed their fill, lay upon the rich grasses and enjoyed life. Near the coast the growth of grain and grass far surpasses that of the interior.
Santa Marguerita Rancho, with its boundless expanse of grass-covered pasturage lands, its thousands of head of cattle and horses, its thousands of acres of bean lands, ready for seed, is worth going miles to see.
At noon we reached San Juan Capistrano. We drove into the grounds of the hospitable Judge Egan. At a table, beneath the grateful shade of giant trees, amid the perfume of flowers, the sweet songs of happy birds, we ate our lunch. After a short rest we took up the run again. We passed El Toro and finally came onto the great San Joaquin ranch, every acre of which is now highly cultivated.
Then came the Santa Ana region, thickly settled, rich in soil and products. We passed through beautiful and enterprising Santa Ana, through miles upon miles of walnut, orange and other fruit groves, through a solid settlement extending far on each side of the road, to Anaheim. And still on through more walnut and orange groves, more wealth-producing crops.
Through the orange and lemon and walnut groves of Fullerton, extending to and forming a large part of Whittier, I could not help exclaiming to myself, "What an empire this is! Where is the country that yields the annual returns per acre that this land does?" At Whittier we got into one of the newly constructed county highways, and at 3:30 p. m. we were home again, after four days in the open, four days of pure and unadulterated happiness.
A Hunting Trip in the Long Ago
One of the disadvantages of old age, even advancing years, is the pleasure we lose in anticipating future events. Enthusiastic youth derives more pleasure in planning a journey, an outing or a social gathering than can possibly be realized from any human experience. With what pleasure the young set out, getting ready for a hunting trip, or an excursion to some remote locality never visited by them!
From the first day I arrived in Los Angeles, I had heard of the Fort Tejon and the Rancho La Liebre country as a hunting paradise, extolled by all people I met, who were given to spending an occasional week or two in the mountains in search of game. In consequence of what I had heard of this region, I made up my mind to go there the first time I got an opportunity.
Among the first acquaintances I made here was a dear old man named A. C. Chauvin, formerly of St. Louis, Mo., and of French descent. He had spent many years in the Northwest, hunting and trapping. He was an excellent shot with both rifle and shotgun. Notwithstanding the fact that he was slightly afflicted with a nervous disorder akin to palsy, which kept his left arm and hand, when not in use, constantly shaking, the moment he drew up his gun, his nerves were steady, and his aim perfect. He despised the modern breech-loading rifle, and insisted on shooting an old-fashioned, muzzle-loading, single-barrel rifle, made by a fellow townsman, Henry Slaughterbach. It was an exceedingly accurate and powerful shooting gun. Chauvin was a thorough hunter, well versed in woodcraft, up in camp equipage and the requirements of men on a two or three weeks' hunting trip.
Off in the Dust.
During the summer of 1876 I had been hard at work. The weather had been hot and trying. In the latter part of September, Mr. Chauvin proposed that I go with him on a deer hunt to the Liebre Ranch. I was practicing law, and after consulting my partners, I eagerly consented to accompany him. He made all the preparations. On the 30th of September he started a two-horse wagon, loaded with most of our outfit, on ahead, in charge of a roustabout. On October 2nd, we followed in a light one-horse wagon, taking with us our blankets, a few provisions and a shotgun. We had a hard time pulling over the grade beyond San Fernando, but finally made it. We went on past Newhall, and camped the first night on the bank of the Santa Clara River.
Without the slightest trouble we killed, within a very few minutes, enough quail for supper and breakfast. After we had finished our evening meal, quite a shower came up very suddenly. Just enough rain fell to make things sticky and disagreeable. The clouds vanished and left as beautiful a starlit sky as any human being ever enjoyed. Our wagon had a piece of canvas over it, which shed the rain, and left the ground beneath the wagon dry. Upon this spot we spread our blankets and went to sleep. Next morning the sun got up, hot, red and ugly looking. We breakfasted, hitched up and started up San Francisquito Canyon. Chauvin remarked we were in for a hot day, and he proved a good prophet. There wasn't a breath of wind stirring as the day progressed. The heat fairly sizzled. A goodly part of the road was well shaded. We were loath to leave the shady spots when we came to the open places. To lighten our load we walked most of the way. We stopped for lunch, fed and rested our weary animal, and just at dark after a weary afternoon's work we reached Elizabeth Lake, where we overtook the other wagon. We had been two full days on the road. I have made the same trip in an automobile two summers in succession, in less than four hours.
In Antelope Country.
On leaving Elizabeth Lake next morning we transferred everything of any weight from our wagon to the larger one, which made the going much easier for our animal. We descended the hill beyond the lake, went up the valley a few miles, and then cut straight across to a point near where Fairmont is now situated. Chauvin said he wanted to get an antelope before going after the deer. We crossed the valley into some low, rolling hills and camped on a small stream called Rock Creek. Chauvin said this was a great place for antelope. The horses were picketed out on a grassy cienega, which offered them pretty good feed. We got our supper, made camp and went to bed.
During the night a wind began to blow from the northwest, and in a few hours it had become a hurricane. Small stones were carried by it like grains of sand. They would pelt us on the head as we lay in our blankets. We could hear the stones clicking against the spokes of the wagon wheels. Great clouds, of dust would obscure the sky. By morning the velocity of the wind was terrific. Our horses, driven frantic, had broken loose and disappeared. We could not make a fire, nor if we had had one could we have cooked anything, for the dirt that filled the air. For breakfast we ate such things as we had prepared. The roustabout started off trailing the horses. Chauvin and I sat around under a bank, blue and disconsolate.
About 11 o'clock we saw a great band of antelope going to water. They were coming up against the wind, straight to us. When fully half a mile away they scented us and started off in a circle to strike the creek above us. We put off after them, following up the creek bed. They beat us to it, watered and started back to their feeding ground, passing us in easy range. We shot at them, but without effect. The wind blew so hard that accurate shooting was an impossibility. We went back to camp. Not far from it we found quite a hole under the bank, which the winter waters had burrowed out. It afforded shelter enough from the wind, which was still blowing, to allow us to build a fire of dry sage brush. We then prepared a good, warm meal, which we at with great relish. By 1 o'clock in the afternoon the wind began to abate, and it died away almost as suddenly as it came up. It left the atmosphere dry and full of dust.
We heard nothing from the man who had gone after the horses. About 3 o'clock Chauvin said he was going to get an antelope or know why. He argued that they would be coming to water soon. He told me to remain near the camp. He went up the stream, intending to get above the point at which the animals usually watered. He had been gone about an hour, when I saw the dust rise toward the east—such a dust as a drove of sheep in motion makes. Pretty soon the advance guard of the largest band of antelope I ever saw, or ever hope to see again, appeared in sight. As they scented our camp, what a sight they made! There they stood, out of range, looking to the point where their keen noses notified them that danger lurked. Then they would wheel and run, stop and look again. The white spots on their rumps shone in the sunlight like burnished silver.
They would stop, look awhile and again wheel and run. Suspicious and anxious they stood, heads up and nostrils dilated, sides heaving. They made a beautiful picture of excited and alarmed curiosity. Several times they advanced, and then fell back. Finally they whirled away and headed up stream. In a few minutes I heard the report of Chauvin's rifle, followed a little later by another shot. Then the whole band appeared in wild disorder, running as only frightened antelopes can run, in the direction from which they came. Shortly afterwards I saw Chauvin on a little knoll. I waved my arms. He saw me, took off his hat and beckoned for me to join him. Off I put, as fast as my legs could carry me. When I got to him, I found he had killed two antelope bucks. They lay within 400 yards of each other. He had already cut their throats. Maybe you think we were not happy! We drew the animals. Chauvin was an old man, compactly built, but very strong. He helped me shoulder the smaller of the bucks, and then he, with the greatest ease, picked up the other one, and we trudged to camp. We hung our game up on a couple of stunted stumps and skinned them. Then we prepared supper. We cooked potatoes and rice, made coffee, and cornbread, and fried the antelope livers with bacon. Just as our meal was ready, our roustabout came into camp, riding one of the horses barebacked, with only a halter and leading the other two. He had had his hat blown away and was bareheaded. He was nearly frozen, having started off in the morning without his coat.
He trailed the horses, which were traveling before the wind, for twelve miles. Fortunately at a point on the south side of the valley, they entered a ravine, in which there was plenty of bunch grass. Here, sheltered from the wind, they fed up the ravine a mile or so, where he found them lying down in a sheltered spot near a water hole. He had had nothing to eat since leaving us. Coming back he faced the wind until it died away. Riding a horse bareback, with a halter for a bridle, and leading two other horses, you can well imagine was no picnic. We tied the animals to some willow stumps, so there was no danger of their getting loose, and gave them a feed of barley. By this time the roustabout was thawed out by our fire, and we had supper.
As we had all the antelope we wanted, we made our plans for the next day. Chauvin knew the country thoroughly. He proposed that the next morning we go to where the horses had been found, and proceed up that canyon onto the Liebre ranch to a camping spot he knew of. He was certain we would find deer there. At peace with the world, we went to bed that night well fed and contented. Next morning we had antelope steak, right out of the loin, for breakfast. I never tasted better meat but once, and that was a moose steak served us one morning at the Hotel Frontenac in Quebec a few years ago.
We broke camp early. About noon time we had crossed the valley and gained our new camp, which was an ideal one. There was a spring of hot and a spring of cold iron and sulphur water within ten feet of each other, each near a stream of cold, clear mountain water. The first thing we did was to take a bath in the hot sulphur water. There was quite a hole in which it boiled up. It was almost too hot for comfort, but how cleansing it was! It took all of the sand out of our hair and beard and eyes, and left the skin as soft as satin. After our hot bath, we cooled off in the stream and got into our clothes. Refreshed and encouraged, we were extremely happy.
Deer tracks were very plentiful. We fixed up our camp, cut up our antelope, put a lot of it out to dry or "jerk," as the common expression is, and then about an hour before sunset, Chauvin and I set out to look the country over. There was plenty of timber, pinons and other pines, and oaks, scrub and large, all full of acorns, upon which the deer were feeding. Returning from camp, not 100 yards from it, we jumped two bucks. We killed both of them, each getting one. Just about then, we began to think things were coming our way. We drew the deer, and in hanging them upon a small oak tree, I pressed a yellow-jacket with the middle finger of my right hand. Before I got the stinger out, my upper lip swelled up to enormous proportions, and both my eyes were swollen shut. Chauvin looked at me with open-eyed and open-mouthed astonishment. In a characteristic tone, native to him, he remarked, "If I hadn't seen it, I couldn't believe it," He had to lead me to camp.
I have been very susceptible to bee stings all my life. Several years before this a bumble bee had stung me on my upper lip, and my whole face was swollen out of shape for many days. I suppose that fact had something to do with the peculiar action of this sting. At any rate, I was in great misery, and lay in camp with my eyes swollen shut for three days before the swelling began to abate. I drank great quantities of the sulphur water, and bathed my face in it continuously.
The morning after the yellow-jacket incident, Chauvin and the roustabout, the latter taking my gun, left me in bed and went out after deer. They left without breakfast, about daylight. Shortly afterwards, two of the horses broke loose and ran through camp terror stricken. The third horse strained at his stake rope, but did not break it. He snorted and stamped at a great rate. The loose horses did not leave camp, but kept up a constant running and snorting for some time. When Chauvin came back, he found that a bear had come down from the mountains near by, torn down and partially devoured one of the deer we had killed the night before, not one hundred yards from where I lay in bed.
Don Elogio de Celis, a well known citizen of Los Angeles, was camped in a canyon about a mile west of us. That afternoon he killed a grizzly bear of pretty good proportions, and we all supposed that he was the marauder who had visited our camp that morning.
While I was laid up Chauvin got two more bucks, several tree squirrels and some mountain quail. We made plenty of jerky, while living off the fat of the land.
About four or five days after I was stung, the swelling went down sufficiently for me to see again, but I had lost my appetite for further hunting, especially as Chauvin had had several long tramps without any luck. We stayed in camp a couple of days longer, then, as signs of a rainstorm were prevalent, we packed up and left camp very early one morning, and the first day got back to Newhall. The next morning, when we reached San Fernando, as I was not feeling any too well, I took the train for Los Angeles, so as to avoid the hot, dusty ride in by wagon.
For many months Chauvin repeated to our friends the extraordinary circumstances of my lip and eyes swelling up from a yellow jacket's sting on the finger. He had hunted and trapped all his life, but could not get over that one incident.
What we had expected to be a pleasant outing proved to be rather a hard experience, but we were too old at the game not to have enjoyed it, and do you realize that after we got rested up, we felt better for our experience? Life in the open, the change of air, the excitement of hunting, all united in sweeping the cobwebs from our brains and left us better prepared for the battle of life than we were before we started.
Professor "Lo," Philosopher
My Interview with an Educated Indian in the Wilds of Oregon:
In the summer of 1902 I was camping, in company with the late Judge Sterry of Los Angeles, on Spring Creek in the Klamath Indian Reservation in Southeast Oregon. Spring Creek rises out, of lava rocks and flows in a southeasterly direction, carrying over 200,000 inches of the clearest, coldest water I ever saw. In fact, its waters are so clear that the best anglers can only catch trout, with which the stream abounds, in riffles, that is where the stream runs over rocks of such size as to keep the surface in constant commotion, thus obscuring the vision of the fish.
Two miles, or thereabouts, from its source, Spring Creek empties into the Williamson River. The Williamson rises miles away in a tule swamp, and its waters are as black as black coffee. Where the two streams come together, the dark waters of the Williamson stay on the left hand side of the stream, going down, and the clear waters of Spring Creek on the right hand side, for half a mile or more. Here some rapids, formed by a swift declivity of the stream, over sunken boulders, cause a mixup of the light and dark waters, and from there on they flow intermingled and indistinguishable.
Nine miles down stream, the Sprague River comes in from the left. It is as large as the Williamson, and its waters are the color of milk, or nearly so. The stream flows for miles over chalk beds and through chalk cliffs, which gives its waters their weird coloring. The union of the waters of the Williamson and the Sprague Rivers results in the dirty, gray coloring of the waters of Klamath Lake, into which they empty, and of the Klamath River, which discharges the lake into the Pacific Ocean.
The place where the Williamson is joined by the Sprague is known as the "Killican." The stream here flows over a lava bottom and is quite wide, in places very deep and in places quite shallow. There seemed to be quite an area of this shallow water. The shallow places suddenly dropped off into pools of great depth, and it was something of a stunt to wander around on the shallow bed rock and cast off into the pools below. I tried it and found the lava as smooth and slippery as polished glass.
After sitting down a couple of times in water two feet deep, I concluded to stay on shore and cast out into the pool. Following this exhilarating exercise with indifferent success, I noticed approaching a little, old Indian. He was bareheaded and barefooted. His shirt was open, exposing his throat and breast. His eyes were deep set, his hair and beard a grizzly gray. He had a willow fishing pole in one hand and a short bush with green leaves on it, with which he was whacking grasshoppers, in the other. He circled around on the bank near me, now and again catching a hopper. I noticed that he ate about two out of every five that he caught. The others he kept for bait.
Finally he approached the stream. He paid no attention whatever to me. He selected a spot almost under me, squatted down upon a flat rock, put two grasshoppers on his hook, threw it into the stream, and in a very short time drew out a good six-pound trout. Filled with admiration for the feat, while he was tying a string through the fish's gills I said to him, "Muy mahe," which another Indian had told me meant "big trout." Without looking up or turning his head, he said to me in perfect English, "What sort of lingo are you giving me, young man? The true pronunciation of those words is," and then he repeated "Muy mahe," with just a little twist to his words that I had not given them. Resuming the conversation he remarked, "Why not speak English? When both parties understand it, it is much more comfortable. I intended to catch but one fish, but as you have admired this one, allow me to present it to you with my compliments." He had turned around now, and held out the struggling trout, a pleasant smile upon his worn features.
Embarrassed beyond measure, I apologized for attempting to talk to him in his own language, and accepted the trout. He baited his hook, cast it into the stream, and in a short time landed a still larger trout. Without removing it from the hook, he came up the bank to where I was seated. He laid his fish and rod on the grass, wiped his forehead with his hand and sat down.
"I never catch more fish, or kill more game than I need for my present wants," he remarked. "That trout will be ample for my wife and myself for supper and breakfast, and in fact for all day tomorrow. When he is gone, I will catch another one."
Then, turning to me, he asked, "From what section of civilization do you hail?" I told him I was from Los Angeles.
"Ah, Los Angeles," he murmured. "The Queen City of the West and Angel City of the South. I have read much of your beautiful city, and I have often thought I would like to visit it and confirm with my own eyes all I read about it. What a paradise that country must have been for the Indian before you white men came! I can hardly imagine a land of perpetual sunshine, a land where the flowers bloom constantly, where snows never fall. Yes, I would like to go there, but I imagine I never shall." Then, with an inquiring glance, "What may be your calling?" he asked.
I told him I was an attorney-at-law.
"A noble profession," he remarked. "Next to medicine I regard it as the noblest profession known to our limited capabilities. Do you ever think," he asked me, "that the medical profession is devoted to relieving physical ills? To warding off death? The law, on the other hand, takes care of your property rights. It is supposed to be the guardian of the weak. How often, however, do we see its mission perverted, and how often it becomes an oppressor of the unfortunate. How many times do we see it aiding in the accumulation of those large fortunes with which our modern civilization is fast becoming burdened and brutalized."
While I had never contracted the filthy habit of smoking, I had in my pocket several good cigars. I extended the case to my newfound friend. He took one, thanked me, bit off the end, lit it and puffed away with evident enjoyment. I took the liberty of asking him his business. "I am a professor of belles lettres and philosophy in the Indian College on the Klamath reservation. I am here on my vacation. I was born and reared to early manhood in these mountains. They still have a charm for me. While I love my books and my labors, there is a freedom in my life here which appeals to me. Here I go back to natural life, and study again the book of nature. Each day I take a lesson from the wild animals of the forest, from the surging streams and twittering birds. Here I can better realize how small is man in the general plan of creation."
He hesitated, and I took advantage of his silence and asked him about the religion of his race. Whether the modern red man adhered to the teachings of his tribe, or leaned toward the white man's God. Replying, he delivered to me a discourse of considerable length, which, as near as I can recollect it now, ran as follows:
A Red Agnostic.
"My people have been too busy these many years filling their stomachs to pay much attention to saving their souls. We teach a religion that inculcates good behavior, and promises as a reward for a well-spent life an eternity of bliss in the happy hunting ground. Our future is depicted by our priests as a materialistic future, where we follow the chase, defeat our enemies and enjoy to our full those things which render us happy in this world. Personally, I have long since discarded the teachings of my people, and I am in a state of doubt which seriously perplexes me. I have read much and widely on this subject. I find that you white men have not one religion, but many. You are divided into sects, torn by factions. From the teachings of history I would think that the multitude of denominations you support was your greatest safeguard. You know from times past, when a religion becomes too powerful it becomes also intolerant, and persecutions follow. I am loath to accept the Christian theory of the origin of man or his probable destiny. Science teaches us that the human being has existed for millions of years longer than the churches admit we have existed. The idolatry practiced by the Catholic church repulses me, and yet its stability has strongly appealed to me. You will remember what Macaulay, in reviewing Ranke's History of the Popes, said of this church. After reviewing its history, its defeats and its triumphs, he added: 'And she may still exist in undiminished vigor when some traveler from New Zealand shall in the midst of a vast solitude take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul.' And yet, neither the age of the church nor its stability is conclusive to my mind of its divine origin. I am rather convinced from these facts that it has been governed by a skillful set of men, who were able politicians and financiers, as well as religious enthusiasts. Certainly no protestant church can lay claim to divine origin. We know too well that the Episcopal church was founded by an English King, because the Pope of Rome refused him a divorce. Luther quarreled with his church and broke away from its restraints. Wesley founded the Methodist church, Calvin the Presbyterian church. The more I study the religious history of the world, the more I am convinced that religion is founded on fear. The immortal bard, from whom nothing seems to have been hidden, lays down the foundation of all religion in those words from 'Hamlet,' where he makes the melancholy Dane exclaim:
"To die:—to sleep,—To sleep! perchance to dream:—ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have, shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause."
"Do you realize that Ingersoll, by his teachings and his denunciations of what he termed the 'absurdities of orthodox religious beliefs,' has done more toward shaking faith in many church doctrines than any man of this age'? And, after all, is not his doctrine a sane one? He says, in effect: 'I can not believe these things. My reason revolts at them. They are repugnant to my intellect. I can not believe that a just God will punish one of His creatures for an honest opinion.' He denies that there is such a God as the churches hold out to us. He denies that the world was created in six days; that man was created in the manner described in the Bible, and that woman was created from man's rib. He denies that miracles were ever performed, or that there was any evidence, reliable or authoritative, that they were ever performed. And yet he does not deny the existence of a future life. His doctrine on this point is, 'I know only the history of the past and the happenings of the present. I do not know, nor does any man know, anything of the future. Let us hope there is a life beyond the grave.'
"The old poet, Omar, argues against a future life. You will recall these lines:
"'Strange, is it not, that of the multitudes who Before us pass'd the door of Darkness through, Not one returns to tell us of the Road, Which to discover we must travel, too.'"
"The churches tell us we must have faith to be saved, but the great minds of the present age are not satisfied, any more than many of the great minds of the past were satisfied, to admit as a matter of faith the whole foundation of the Christian religion."
"People want to be shown. They are not willing to rely upon poorly authenticated stories of what occurred several thousand years ago. The question presents itself to us: Is the world better, for its present beliefs than it formerly was, when religion was a matter of statute People may not be as religious as they once were, but they are certainly more humane. Women are no longer slaves, chattels, with unfeeling husbands. Slavery itself no longer exists in any civilized nation. Polygamy is not practiced to the extent that it was in Biblical days. The world progressed as fear ceased to rule the human mind."
"But, pardon me," he added with infinite grace and a charming wave of. his hand, "you see your question has aroused in me the failing of the pedagogue. I have said more than I had intended."
"How do your people," I asked, "look upon the material progress of the age?" "They are astounded," he answered. "Since the Modoc War many of my people have prospered. You have seen their farms, their houses, and noted their occupations. They are rich in lands and stock, and even in money. They have many comforts and even many luxuries in their homes. Some of them have traveled extensively, and they come back filled with awe and admiration with what the white man has done and is doing. I read the modern press, and many scientific works, and I am satisfied that man will fly in a few years more. Already the automobile is displacing the domestic animals. The telephone was a great triumph of science, next in importance to steam locomotion. But, are your people as happy with your modern methods, your crowded cities, your strenuous existence, as your forefathers were, who led the simple life? And where is this mad scramble, not for wealth alone, not for power but for mere existence, nothing more, that the human race is engaged in, going to end? Can you tell me? Take America, one of the newest civilized lands of the earth, how long will it be before her coal measures are exhausted? Her iron ores exhausted? Her forests will soon be a thing of the past. Already you hear complaints that her fertile lands are not yielding as they once did, and your population is constantly increasing. With coal gone, with iron gone, with the land poverty stricken to a point where profitable production of cereals can no longer be had, what is to become of your teeming millions?"
I assured him I could not answer these questions. That I had asked myself the same things a thousand times, and no answer came to me. I handed the professor another cigar. He lit it. Just then an old Indian woman clad in a calico wrapper, but bareheaded and barefooted, came down the road towards us. She stopped some fifty feet away, and in a shy, low voice, but in good English, she called him. "Papa, did you catch me a fish for dinner?" The professor turned his head, and seeing her, said to me, "Ah, here is my guardian angel, my wife," and then to her, holding up his trout, he said, "Yes, I have it. I am coming now."
He arose, held out a dirty hand for me to shake, and in parting, said, "My dear sir, you can not imagine how much I have enjoyed our chance meeting, resulting from your poor pronunciation of two Indian words. When you return to your civilized surroundings, ask yourself, 'Are any of this mad throng as happy as the Indian I met at the Killican'."
He joined his wife, and the aged pair passed into a brush hut beneath some stately pines. I, too, turned toward the wagon which was to carry me back to camp, meditating long and deeply on the remarks of this strolling compound of savagery and education. Environment is largely responsible for man's condition. Here was a man who had acquired considerable knowledge of the world and books, he was still a savage in his manner of life and in his habits.
His manner of talking was forceful and natural, and his command of language remarkable. The ease and abandon with which he wielded the arguments of those who rail against the existence of a Divine Being would lead one, listening to him, to imagine himself in the lecture-room of some modern university.
A Great Day's Sport on Warner's Ranch.
Think of three days in the open! Three glorious days in the sunshine! "Far from the madding crowd!" Far from the rush and stir and whirl and hum of business! Far from the McNamara horror, and its sickening aftermath of jury bribing!
A short time ago, whirling over good roads and bad roads, through orange groves with their loads of fruit, rapidly assuming golden hues; through miles and miles of vineyards, now 'reft of all leaves, vineyards in which the pruners were already busily at work; past acres and acres of ground being prepared for grain; through wooded canyons and pine-screened vales; ascending from almost sea level to upwards of 3000 feet—a party of us went to Warner's Ranch after the famous canvasback ducks.
We left my home at 7:30 o'clock a. m., some of us in my machine, and two of the party in a runabout. Filled with the ambition of youth, the driver of the latter car reached Mr. William Newport's place in the Perris Valley, a run of seventy-six miles, in two hours and twenty minutes. We jogged along, reaching Newport's in three hours, and found the exultant, speed-crazed fiend waiting for us. He was loud in the praise of his speedy run. Of all of this take note a little later in the story.
We lunched with Mr. Newport, and then took him with us. What a day it was! A radiant, dry, winter day! The whole earth was flooded with sunshine. Not a cloud was in the sky. The air was full of snap and electric energy. The atmosphere absolutely clear. We wound in and out of the canyons, over dry and running streams, always ascending, climbing the eastern shoulder of Mt. Palomar, not to the top, but to a pass by which the ranch is reached.
Before 4 o'clock we were on Warner's Ranch. This property could well be described as the "Pamir" of Southern California. True, its elevation is but slight compared with the 16,000 feet of that great Asiatic country, bearing the name of "Pamir," where roams in all his freedom the true "Ovis Poli" or "Big Horn."
The ranch comprises about 57,000 acres of land, and is the largest body of comparatively level land at even an elevation of 3500 feet in Southern California. It is an immense circular valley, rock ribbed and mountain bound. Out of it, through a narrow gorge to the southwest, flows the San Luis Rey River. The ranch is well watered. Much of it during the winter season is semi-bog or swamp land, and at all times affords wonderful grazing for stock. There are circling hills and level mesas and broad valleys here and there. Nestled between the hills are a number of mountain lakes, fed by innumerable springs around their edges. These lakes furnish food for the canvasback duck in the various grasses and other growths, of which they are extremely fond.
Contrary to good judgment, we drove to one of these lakes, and had half an hour's shooting that evening. We got about twenty birds. We proceeded to the hotel, and after drawing our birds, hung them up where they would freeze that night and not be in the sun while we were shooting next day.
A cold north wind was blowing, which whistled mournfully through the cottonwoods, and suggested a night where plenty of blankets would be more than acceptable.
The hotel is situated at the Warner's Hot Springs, celebrated throughout all of Southern California for their wonderful curative properties. The proprietor, Mr. Stanford, and his good wife, made us comfortable, and were as accommodating as we have always found them. After a good supper we proceeded to our rooms and got ready for the next day's slaughter. Well into the night the wind whistled and blew. It finally went down. Then the temperature began to fall. The thermometer went to 29 degrees before morning. Wherever there was a thin surface of water, there was ice.
We did not get out very early. It is not necessary at Warner's. The ducks fly from lake to lake when disturbed. If too heavily bombarded they leave the valley. We breakfasted about 7 o'clock. Taking our guns and ammunition, we started out over the frosty roads for the lakes. As we reached the lower ground the frost was heavier. I found the surface of one small lake solidly frozen. At the larger lakes there was just a little ice on the edges. We distributed our men to the various lakes, and the shooting began.
Say, neighbor, did you ever hunt those big mountain canvasback? If you have, you know the story. If you have not, I am afraid I can not give you a correct impression of it. Sitting in a frozen blind, all at once you hear the whirring of wings, far off in the sky. Before you can locate the source of it, "Swish!" an old Can goes by. You look at the streak of light he leaves in the atmosphere. Then you hear another far-off alarm. You seize your gun as the gray mark passes overhead at about 125 miles an hour. You shoot at it and realize that you have shot just fifty feet behind it. Another one comes by. Bang! again goes the gun. You have done a little better this time, but you are yet not less than thirty feet in the rear. Again you try it. Just a few feathers fly. You are alarmed now, and there comes to you the admonition of an old duck hunter, who laid down the following three rules for duck shooting, viz:
"First, lead them considerably.
"Second, lead them a little more than last time.
"Third, still lead them further yet."
The next time you get your bird, a great big, magnificent Can. Kerplunk! he falls into the water, or with a dull thud, he strikes the ground with force enough to kill a horse if hit squarely by it. What a bird he was! How beautifully marked! How bright his wing! How deep his breast, compared with any other duck in the land! How magnificent the dark brown, velvet coloring of his head! How soft and satiny the white streaked back!
All over the valley the guns were booming. Out of the sky, a mile away, you would see ducks flying rapidly, suddenly crumple up and plunge to the earth or water.
Ducks Go Skating.
In a lull in the shooting I left my blind and went a quarter of a mile away to the little lake mentioned before as frozen over. I crept up to the top of a hill and looked down upon it. Although the sun was high in the sky, the lake was still frozen. It was surrounded by ducks. I don't want to say that they were skating on the ice. I saw one old canvasback drake, however, peck at another duck. The latter squawked and waddled out of the way, going where the water should have been. When he struck the ice, he slid for quite a little distance, balancing with his wings in a most ludicrous fashion. While cautiously watching them, I saw this performance repeated several times.
There was no hope of my approaching them within shooting distance, so I stood up to arouse the ducks, hoping to send them to my companions. They filled the air with a great clatter of wings, and circled off to various portions of the valley. I heard a great bombardment as they crossed the other lakes, and I knew that someone had taken toll from them.
It was a beautiful day, with cloudless sky. The sun's warm summer like rays were in marked contrast to the icy breath of winter, encountered at sunrise. What a grand sunrise it was! From behind the mountains of the East, up out of the depths of the Salton Sea, Old Sol first illuminated the sky, the mountain tops and wooded ridges to the southwest and north, and then with a rich show of crimson coloring, he suddenly vaulted into the sky, touching with his golden wand each frosted leaf and frozen bush and tree, and hill and vale and mountain top.
We shot with varying success during the morning hours.
Many of the ducks, especially the larger ones, circled high in the air like miniature aeroplanes, almost beyond human vision. How they sped on frightened wings, gradually going higher and higher, and finally darting off over the eastern rim of the valley in the direction of Salton Sea. Just before noon time my companion at one of the lakes, and myself, gathered up our ducks and hung them high in a tree at the water's edge. We then went to another lake by which the autos stood, where we had agreed to muster for lunch. The entire party were in high spirits, and pronounced the sport the best they had ever had.
After lunch two of the party in the runabout drove out of the valley to some place familiar to them. They returned later with the limit of jacksnipe—big, fat, thick-breasted, meaty looking birds.
My companion and myself returned to our blinds. The duck flight during the fore part of the afternoon was exceedingly light. I managed to land, among others, a beautiful canvasback drake. Shortly afterwards I stopped as fine a Mallard drake as I ever saw. This was the only Mallard killed on the trip.
In the gathering shadows of the coming night we drove back to the Springs. Seven guns had killed 118 ducks, fifty of them canvasback. There was a fine sprinkling of sprig, redhead, widgeon, plenty of teal, bluebills and some spoonbills, all fine, fat birds. Then there were the jacksnipe.
Tired and happy we dined. Until retiring time, we lived again the sport of the day. When we sought our beds, sleep came quickly, and I do not think any of us turned over until it was time to get up. We had packed our belongings, taken on gasoline and breakfasted, and started homeward a little after 7 o'clock.
We visited another section of the country known to one of our party, and fell in with some mountain pigeons, and in a couple of hours managed to kill sixty-eight of them. Talk about shooting! Oh, Mama! How those pigeons could fly! And pack away lead! No bird I ever saw could equal them in that particular.
Even at close range, a well-centered bird would, when hard hit, pull himself together as his feathers flew in the breeze, and sail away out into some mountain side, quite out of reach of the hunter, undoubtedly to die and furnish food for the buzzards or coyotes. We had to take awful chances as to distance in order to kill any of them.
While looking for a dead pigeon that fell off towards the bottom of a wooded bluff in some thick bunches of chapparal, I heard the quick boof! boof! of the hoofs of a bounding deer. I did not see that animal. An instant later, in rounding a heavy growth of bushes, I saw a magnificent buck grazing on the tender growth. He stood just the fraction of a second with the young twig of the bush in his mouth, looking at me with his great luminous eyes, and then he made a jump or two out of sight. Strange that these two animals had not fled at the sound of our guns.
A game warden hailed us and insisted on seeing all our hunting licenses and on counting our ducks. This privilege, under the law, we could have denied him, but we were a little proud of the birds we had, and as we were well within the number we could have killed, we made no objection to his doing so.
As a result of its speedy run the day before, the runabout had for some little time been running on a rim. We left its occupants, who disdained our help, putting on a new tire. After a beautiful run we again reached the Newport place, where we lunched. The car did not appear. We hated to go away and leave them, as we thought they might be in difficulty. We telephoned to Temecula and found they had passed that point. About two hours after our arrival they came whirling in. They had had more tire trouble. They took a hasty lunch, and we all started together.
We made the home run without incident. Spread out in one body our game made a most imposing appearance. Besides the 118 ducks there were 50 jacksnipe and 68 fine large wild pigeons.
Such days make us regret that we are growing old. They rejuvenate us —make us boys again.
Boyhood Days in Early California
My boyhood days, from the time I was five until I was fifteen years of age, were spent on a ranch in Yuba County, California. We were located on the east side of Feather River, about five miles above Marysville. The ranch consisted of several hundred acres of high land, which, at its western terminus, fell away about one hundred feet to the river bottom. There were a couple of hundred acres of this river bottom land which was arable. It was exceedingly rich and productive. Still west of this land was a well-wooded pasture, separated from the cultivated lands by a good board fence. The river bounded this pasture on the north and west.
In the pasture were swales of damp land, literally overgrown with wild blackberry bushes. They bore prolific crops of long, black, juicy berries, far superior to the tame berries, and they were almost entirely free from seeds. Many a time have I temporarily bankrupted my stomach on hot blackberry roll, with good, rich sauce.
The country fairly teemed with game. Quail and rabbit were with us all the time. Doves came by the thousands in the early summer and departed in the fall. In winter the wild ducks and geese were more than abundant. In the spring wild pigeons visited us in great numbers. There was one old oak tree which was a favorite resting-place with them. Sheltered by some live oak bushes, I was always enabled to sneak up and kill many of them out of this tree.
I began to wander with the gun when I was but a little over eight years old. The gun was a long, double-barrel, muzzle-loading derelict. Wads were not a commercial commodity in those days. I would put in some powder, guessing at the amount, then a wad of newspaper, and thoroughly ram it home, upon top of this the shot, quantity also guessed at, and more paper. But it was barely shoved to the shot, never rammed. Sad experience taught me that ramming the shot added to the kicking qualities of the firearm. How that old gun could kick! Many times it bowled me over. St. George Littledale, a noted English sportsman, in describing a peculiarly heavy express rifle, said, "It was absolutely without recoil. Every time I discharged it, it simply pushed me over." That described my gun exactly, except that it had "the recoil." I deemed myself especially fortunate if I could get up against a fence post or an oak tree when I shot at something. By this means I retained an upright position. Armed with this gun, an antiquated powder flask, a shot pouch whose measurer was missing, and a dilapidated game bag, I spent hours in the woods and fields, shooting such game as I needed, learning to love life in the open, the trees, the flowers, the birds and the wild animals I met. I was as proud of my outfit as the modern hunter is of his $500 gun and expensive accompaniments. When I went after the cows, I carried my gun, and often got a dozen or more quail at a pot shot out of some friendly covey. If I went to plow corn, or work in the vegetable garden, the gun accompanied me, and it was sure to do deadly execution every day.
When it was too wet to plow, no matter how hard it was raining, it was just right to hunt. Clad in a gum coat, I would take my gun and brave the elements, when a seat by the fireside would have been much more comfortable. I loved to be out in a storm, to watch the rain, to hear the wind toss and tear the branches of the trees, to hear at first hand the fury of the storm, and watch the birds hovering in the underbrush, and the wild waterfowl seek the protection of the willows. In such a storm great flocks of geese would scurry across the country within a few feet of the ground. They usually went in the teeth of the gale. At such times they constantly uttered shrill cries and appeared utterly demoralized.
If there were game laws in those days, I never knew it. It was always open season with me. Often my mother would tell me to shoot something besides quail, that she was tired of them.
There was a slough on the place which was full of beaver and beaver dams. How I tried to get one of them, always without success! They were very crafty, very alert, and at the slightest indication of danger dived under water to the doors of their houses, long before one was in gunshot of them. Full many a weary hour have I spent, hidden in the brush, watching a nearby beaver dam in the hope of getting a shot, but always without avail. They would appear at other dams, too far away, but never show themselves close enough to be injured.
In the winter the slough fairly swarmed with ducks of every variety. They were disturbed but little, and they used these waters as a resting place, flying far out into the grain fields and into the open plain at night for their food. The beautiful wood duck, now almost extinct in California, was very plentiful. They went in flocks as widgeon do. They would go into the tops of the oak trees and feed upon the acorns. I killed many of them as they came out of these trees. In flying they had a way of massing together like blackbirds, and one shot often brought down a goodly bag of them.
The slough I mentioned above was not a stagnant one. It was fed by water from Feather River. After winding around an island, it emptied its waters back into the river farther down stream, so that fresh water was continually entering and flowing from it. Along its banks grew a fringe of tall cottonwood trees. Many of them were completely enveloped with wild grapevines, which bore abundantly. The slough was full of two or three varieties of perch, or, as we called them, sun-fish; also a white fish called chub. These fish were all very palatable, and I caught loads of them. In the fall, when the wild grapes were ripe, they would fall off into the water and were fed upon by the fish. Beneath the vine-clad cottonwoods the fishing was always good.
One afternoon I was following a path just outside of the pasture fence, through heavy wheat stubble, left after cutting time. I saw a pair of pink ears ahead of me, which I knew belonged to a rabbit. I blazed away at the ears. The gun, as usual, did execution at both ends. I went over on my back. When I regained my feet I saw a great commotion on the firing line. Rabbits' legs and feathers were alternately in the air. Investigating, I found two cottontail, one jackrabbit and three quail in the last stages of dissolution, all the result of one shot at two rabbit's ears. I felt bigger than Napoleon ever did as I gathered up my kill and started for home.
On one of my wanderings I came across; the barrel of a rifle on an Indian mound, which had been plowed up when we were preparing the land for planting. It was so coated with rust that the metal was no longer visible. Floods had covered the ground many times. Not knowing how long it had been buried there, I dug the rust and dirt out of the barrel as best I could and took it home. On my first trip to Marysville I took it to a blacksmith named Allison, who did all of our work, and asked him to cut it off about a foot from the breech end, so that I could use it as a cannon. He put it in his forge, and pulled away upon his bellows with his left hand. He held the muzzle end of the rifle barrel in his right hand, and poked at the coals with it so as to get it properly covered. He intended to heat it and then cut it off. All at once, Bang! and that horrid old thing went off. The bullet went through Allison's clothing and slightly cut the skin on his side. He was the worst scared man in all California. When he felt the sting of the bullet he threw up his hands and fell on his back, yelling lustily. I was almost as badly panic-stricken, thinking surely he was killed. I began to see visions of the gallows and the hangman's rope. He recovered his self-possession, and when he found he was not hurt, his fear turned to anger. He threw the rifle barrel out into the street, and then drove me out of the shop. When I got outside and my fear had left me, I sat down on an old wagon tongue and laughed until I was entirely out of breath. Allison came out, and my laughter must have been contagious. He leaned up against a post and laughed until he cried. His anger had left him, and we were soon fast friends again. At the proper time I ventured the opinion that the rifle could not go off again, and that it would be well enough to finish the cutting process. He consented and soon had the barrel cut off. I took the breech end home with me, and endangered my life with it many years. I generally loaded it with blasting powder, for the reason that it was usually on hand and cost me nothing, and so loaded, the cannon made more noise than had I used gunpowder.
During the campaign in which Gen. George B. McClellan ran for the Presidency against Abraham Lincoln, the Democrats of Northern California had a great celebration which lasted two or three days. Among other things was a barbecue at the race track, two or three miles out of town. Great pits were dug which were filled with oak stumps and logs, and burned for about twenty-four hours before the cooking began. These logs were reduced to a perfect bed of live coals. Over these, old-fashioned Southern negroes, of whom there were many in the neighborhood, cooked quarters of beef, whole sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. There were at least five thousand people on the ground. My blacksmith friend, Allison, was firing a salute with an old cannon. He fired the cannon after it was loaded, with an iron rod, one end of which was kept heated in a small fire. I attended to the fire for him. After the discharge the gun was wiped out with a wet swab. The powder was done up in red flannel cartridges. Allison, with heavy, buckskin gloves on his hands, would hold his thumb over the vent or tube of the cannon. Two men, first slitting the lower end of the cartridge, would ram it into the gun. During each loading process I straddled the gun, looking towards Allison. After a number of discharges, the heat burned a hole through the glove that Allison was using, and his thumb, coming in contact with the hot metal, was withdrawn for an instant, while the assistants were sending home a charge. There was an immediate premature explosion. I was sitting astride the gun, and felt it rise up and buck like a horse. Allison's eyes were nearly ruined, and his face filled with powder, the marks of which stayed with him the rest of his life. The two assistants were horribly mutilated, but neither of them was killed. For a time I thought I never would hear again. My ears simply shut up and refused to open for some time.
It would seem that this disaster should have been sufficient for one day, but it was not. That night there was to have been public speaking in front of the Western Hotel, by many prominent politicians. Opposite the hotel was a two-story brick building, with a veranda built around it. All of the offices on the second floor opened on this veranda. It was crowded with people. The weight became excessive. The iron posts next to the sidewalk, which sustained the veranda, slid out, and the platform swung down like a table leaf, spilling everybody onto the sidewalk. Eight or nine people were killed outright, and many more very severely injured.
When about twelve years of age I got hold of two greyhounds, sisters, named "Flora" and "Queen." During the winter time I spent much time chasing jackrabbits. In summer time the ground got so hard that the dogs would not run. The ground hurt their feet. But in the winter we had great sport. There was an immense open plain east of our property, miles long and miles wide, and level as a floor. There was a dry weed, without leaves and of a reddish color, which grew in patches all over this plain. These weed patches were the hiding places of the jackrabbits. The game was exciting and stirred one's sporting blood. I found a great difference in the speed of jackrabbits—as much in fact as in the speed of blooded horses. Occasionally I would get up one that would actually run away from the dogs, which were a fast pair. I followed the sport so persistently, and paid so little attention to fences when they interfered with my going, that I got the appellation in the neighborhood of "that d d Graves boy."
When we got up a hare, away we went after the dogs, just as fast as our horses would carry us. The sport was hard on horseflesh, so much so that my father finally forbade me running any of our horses after the hounds. There lived in our neighborhood a man who owned, and who had put upon the track some of the fastest horses in the State. At this time he had retired and raised horses for the fun of it. He also had some good hounds. He enjoyed the sport as much as I did. Having plenty of good horses, he furnished me with as many as I needed. We spent many days in trying to determine which of us had the best dogs. Incidentally, we wrecked some promising thoroughbreds. The question of the superiority of our dogs was never settled. We always left the door open for one more race.
Our place was the haven of all the boys of my acquaintance. When I was attending school at Marysville some boy came home with me nearly every Friday night. We would work at whatever was being done on the place Saturday forenoon, but the afternoon was ours. With the old gun we took to the pasture, hunted for game, for birds' nests and even turtles' nests. The mud turtle, common to all California waters, laid an astounding number of very hard shelled, oblong, white eggs, considerably larger than a pigeon's egg. They deposited them in the sand on the shores of the slough, covering them up, leaving them for the sun to hatch. They always left some tell-tale marks by which we discovered the nest. Often we got several hundred eggs in an afternoon. They were very rich, and of good flavor.
There were many coons and a few wildcats in the pasture woods. With the aid of a dog we had great sport with them. Hard pressed, they would take to the trees, from which we would shoot them. On one occasion we found four little spitfire, baby lynx, which we carried home and later traded to the proprietor of a menagerie. We got some money and two pair of fan-tail pigeons in exchange for them. When quite small they were the most vicious, untamable little varmints imaginable, and as long as we had them our hands were badly scratched by them.
On the bottom land, each year, we had a large and well assorted vegetable garden. It produced much more than we could possibly use. We boys would sell things from the garden for amusement and pin money. During one summer vacation, a boy, one Johnnie Gray, a brother of L. D. C. Gray of this city, was visiting me. We took a load of vegetables to Marysville. After selling it, getting our lunch, paying for the shoeing of our horse (which in those days cost four dollars), and buying some ammunition for the gun, we had $1.50 left. We quarreled as to how we should spend this remnant. Not being able to agree, we started home without buying anything. On the outskirts of Marysville was a brewery. The price of a five-gallon keg of beer was $1.50. We concluded to take a keg home with us. It was an awfully hot summer day, and the brewer was afraid to tap the keg, thinking that the faucet would blow out under the influence of the heat before we got home. He gave us a wooden faucet, and told us how to use it. "Hold it so," he said, showing us, "hit it with a heavy hammer, watch the bung, and when you have driven it in pretty well, then send it home with a hard blow." We were sure we could do it. We drove home, put the beer in the shade by the well, spread a wet cloth over it, and then put our horse away. My parents chided us for throwing our money away on beer. In the cool of the evening we concluded to tap the keg. One of us held the faucet and the other did the driving, but we did not have the success predicted for us by the brewer.
At the critical moment we drove in the bung, but not with sufficient momentum to fasten the faucet. It flew out of our hands into the air, followed by the beer. In about a minute the keg was entirely empty. We were overwhelmingly drenched and drowned by the escaping beer, but never got a single drop of it to drink.
On another occasion some of us children were coming home from Marysville. We were driving an old white horse, named "Jake," who knew us and loved us as only a good horse can. He submitted to our abuses, shared in our pleasure and would not willingly have hurt any of us. We were in a small, one-seated spring wagon. While driving through a lane, moved on by the spirit of deviltry, one of us whipped Jake into a run, and the other one threw the reins over a fence post. The result was as could have been expected by any sane-minded individual. The horse stopped so suddenly that he sat down on the singletree, and broke both the shafts of the wagon. We were hurled out with great force, and got sundry bruises and abrasions. We wired up the shafts and got home as best we could, and, I am sorry to say, we lied right manfully as to the cause of the accident. We told a story of a drunken Mexican on horseback who chased us a considerable distance, and finally lassoed the horse, bringing him to so sudden a stop as to cause the damage. Instead of being punished, as we should have been, we were lauded as heroes of an attempted kidnapping.
One of my uncles made for us a four-wheeled wagon, the hub, spokes and axles being made out of California oak—such a wagon as you can buy in any store today, only a little larger. We made a kite of large dimensions, and covered the frame with cotton from a couple of flour sacks. At certain times of the year, the wind across the Marysville plains blew with great velocity. This kite, in a strong wind, had great pulling capacity. We would go out into the plain, put up the kite, and fasten the string to the tongue of the wagon, three or four of us pile on, and let her go. The speed that we would travel before the wind by this means was marvelous, but we tried the kite trick once too often. We got to going so fast we could not slow down nor successfully guide the wagon. It ran over an old stump, spilled us all out, and kite and wagon sailed away clear across Feather River into Sutter County and we never saw either of them again.
The boys of the present age have no such opportunities for out-of-door sports as we did in the olden days. Now it is baseball, automobile exhibitions and moving picture shows. Increased population, high-power guns, cultivation of the soil, the breaking up of large ranches into smaller holdings, have resulted in the disappearance of much of the game with which the land then abounded.
Fifty years ago in California, conditions of rural life were necessarily hard. Our habitations were but little more than shelter from the elements. We had none of the conveniences of modern life. At our house we always made our own tallow candles. We hardened the candles by mixing beeswax with the tallow. We made the beeswax from comb of the honey taken from bee trees. We corned our own beef and made sauerkraut by the barrel for winter use. We canned our own fruit, made jelly and jam from wild berries and wild grapes. We selected perfect ears of corn, shelled it at home, ran it through a fanning machine, and then had the corn ground into meal for our own consumption. We raised our own poultry and made our own butter and cheese, with plenty to sell; put up our own lard, shoulders, ham and bacon and made our own hominy. The larder was always well filled. The mother of a family was its doctor. A huge dose of blue mass, followed by castor oil and quinine, was supposed to cure everything, and it generally did. In the cities luxuries were few. To own a piano was the privilege of the very wealthy.
Speaking of pianos, in the flood of 1863, before Marysville was protected by its levee, which is now twenty-five feet high, the family cow swam into the parlor of one of the best mansions of the town, through the window. When the flood waters had subsided, she was found drowned on top of the piano.
Life under the conditions here given was necessarily hard. Our amusements were few. We, who lived in the country, had plenty of good air and sound sleep-two things often denied the city resident. Our sports were few and simple, but of such a nature that they toughened the fiber and strengthened the muscles of our bodies, thus fitting us to withstand the heavy drafts on our vitality that the hurly-burly of modern life entails upon the race.
Last Quail Shoot of the Year 1911
Were I musically inclined, I could very appropriately sing, "Darling, I Am Growing Old." The realization of this fact, as unwelcome as it is, is from time to time forced upon me.
On Friday, November 10, 1911, I went to the Westminster Gun Club, in an open machine, through wind and storm. Got up the next morning at 5 o'clock, had a duck shoot, drove back thirty miles to Los Angeles, arriving there at 11:30 a. m. At 1 o'clock I drove to my home, and at 2 o'clock was off for Ferris Valley on a quail shoot. Had a good outing, with much hard labor. The next day I got home at half past five, completely done up.
As I went to retire, I had a good, stiff, nervous chill. So you can well see that I can no longer stand punishment, and am "growing old." As I lay there and shook, I said to myself, "Old fellow, you will soon be a 'has-been.' Your gun and fishing rod will soon decorate your shooting case as ornaments, rather than as things of utility." Ah, well, let it be so! The memory of pleasant days when youth and strength were mine; days when the creel was full, and game limits came my way, will be with me still. I would not exchange the experience I have had with rod and gun for all the money any millionaire in the world possesses.
On my trip to the grounds of the Quail Valley Land Company, some thirty miles below Riverside, two members of the club and my wife accompanied me. We were in one of my good, old reliable Franklin cars, and from Ontario to Riverside we bucked a strong head wind that was cold and pitiless. It necessarily impeded our progress, as we had on a glass front, and the top was up, and yet we made the run of seventy-six miles in three hours and a quarter without ever touching the machine. In fact, none of the party got out of the machine, from start to finish.
The big, open fireplace at Newport's home, and the bountiful, well-cooked supper with which we were greeted, were well calculated to make us happy and contented. The long drive in the wind rendered all of us sleepy, and by 9 o'clock we had retired. I never woke up until 6 o'clock next morning.
After breakfast we proceeded in our machine to the shooting ground. The sky was heavily overcast with watery, wicked looking clouds. Rifts in the sky, here and there, let some frozen looking sunbeams through, but there was no warmth in their rays. We had our first shoot on the edge of a grain field, but the birds quickly flew to some high hills to the west.
Rounding the pass through these hills, I never saw the Perris Valley more weirdly beautiful. The clouds were high. On the north Mt. San Bernardino loomed up, grim, snow-capped and forbidding. To the east old Tahquitz, guardian of the passes to the desert, reared his snow-capped head, far above the surrounding country. To the south Mt. Palomar stretched his long, lazy looking form, with his rounded back and indented outline, from east to west. His distance from us made him look like a line of low, outlying hills, instead of the sturdy old mountain that he is. All of these mountains bore most exquisite purple hues. The same coloring was assumed by those groups of lesser hills that, cone-like, are scattered over the easterly edge of the Perris Valley, and which separate the Hemet and the San Jacinto country from the rest of the valley. The coloring of the floor of the valley itself was particularly exquisite. There was just enough light, just enough of sunbeams struggling through the sodden clouds to illuminate, here and there, an alfalfa field, or here and there a grove of trees, so as to bring them out in startling contrast to the somber colors of the shaded portions of the valley. But with it were signs of the dying year, a premonition of storms to come, storms unpleasant while they last, but revivifying in their effects.
Many Quail—Too Cold.
In the fifteen years during which I have shot upon these grounds, I never got up more or larger bands of quail than we did that morning. The day was too cold for good shooting. Give me the good old summer time, with the thermometer about 80 degrees, for good quail shooting. In the cool days the birds run or get up and fly a half mile at a time. They will not scatter out and lie close, so that you can get them up one by one and fill your bags. On the cold days they also break cover at very long range. They led us a merry chase up the steepest hills and down the most abrupt declivities. All of the time we were slowly making good.
Lloyd Newport was there on his buckskin horse. Now you could see him way up on a hillside, then again down in some deep valley, running like mad to check the flight, or turn the running march of some band of birds that was leading those of us on foot a double-quick run. Shooting as he rode, now to the right, now to the left, then straight ahead, he got his share of the birds.
Little Fred Newport, only 14 years old, was shooting like a veteran, and long before the rest of us had scored, he proudly announced that he had the limit. The final round-up found us with 109 birds for seven guns—a good shoot, under very adverse circumstances. We had the satisfaction of knowing that we left plenty of birds on the ground for next year.
The quail shooting of 1911 is at an end. Only the memory of it remains. I shall cherish the memory deeply in my affections, and let it stir my enthusiasm for the out-of-door life when the world seems all balled up, and things are going wrong.
While proceeding along an unfrequented road, with sage brush on each side of it, we ran across a rattlesnake, about four feet long, and of good circumference, twisted up into a most peculiar position. Investigation found that, notwithstanding the coolness of the day, he was foraging for game, and was engaged in swallowing a good-sized kangaroo rat. The tail of the rat protruded several inches from his mouth. The snake glared at us, but made no effort to escape or fight. He seemed dazed, probably half choked by his efforts to swallow the rat. We straightened him out on the ground and blew his head off with a shotgun. We then disgorged the rat, which was at least four or five inches long, and an inch and a half in diameter. The snake was then quickly skinned. He had eleven rattles and a button.