Saturday, December 31, 2011

Since we have no snow...

Here's a poem written by cowhand John Gill in 1939, right here on my ranch. It's called, "Winter on the Little Snake."

We were crowded in the bunkhouse,
Not a soul did dare to sleep,
Twas midnight up at Three Forks,
And the snow was six feet deep.

It's a terrible thing in that land,
To be caught in such a storm,
You're forty miles from nowhere,
And no way to give alarm.

When the storm was over,
And the sun began to shine,
We scooped the snow off the cattle,
And they were looking fine.

We lifted our arms to Heaven,
Said, "Thank God for just one thing,
Today's the Fourth of July,
It can't be long 'til spring!"

Friday, December 30, 2011

Steamboat Pilot, 1910: Jap Killed Yesterday at Rock Creek Canon [sic]

While working at the slide on the Moffat road in Rock creek canon, caused by the breaking of the irrigation ditch that conveys the water of Rock creek into the Crater country, a Japanese laborer by the name of J. Shockichi Kobayaski, and recently from Ken, Japan, was struck by a falling rock and with great force was knocked against the truss of a flat car, tearing the right side of his head completely off, causing instant death. His brains were scattered for a distance of 20 feet.
The accident occurred at 7:45 yesterday morning and the body, after being placed on the wrecking train, was removed to Yampa in charge of the officials and his countrymen. The accident scared his fellow employes [sic] to such an extent that 34 out of 45 of the men working on the slide, quit the job.
There is probability of entanglements in this case with the railroad company, as the coroner of the county in which a death occurs must sign the death certificate, and Coroner Bashor was not informed of the accident until after the body had been taken to Denver on the Moffat train.
As far as is known, Kobayaski, who was 21 years of age, had no relatives in this country. He will be buried in Denver.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Newspapers had such a different way of putting things-- including such gruesome details as how far his brains were spread from the impact. One more poor young man killed in the way of progress-- the west is full of such graves, unknown or barely remembered. Do you think his fellow workers knew his family, and were able to tell them what happened? Do you think that he still lies in Denver today, or that his family came and moved his body to Japan, like so many Chinese burials were moved? This story brings to mind our own Charlie Corless, who lies buried on the hill, dead at 19. His story is unknown, and aside from the kindness of his neighbors, who bought a beautiful granite stone to mark his burial, who remembered him at his death? Who notified his family, who found him lifeless? I wish I could bring the dead back to life to answer all the questions I have for them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Talk about run-on sentences...

This entire newspaper article is made up of two sentences. The first one is especially startling in its length. Newspaper journalism was quite a bit different from what is practiced today...
From the Snake River Sentinel of December 1, 1911:
“Manager of the famous Pioneer Sheep Herds
“Mr. Blackmore a descendant of that sturdy class of English people who have made history in every clime and country of the world, has followed the precepts of his ancestors, and made for himself and family, a name on the river which implies success and strength of character, although less given to public enterprises in his own community than is shown by his brothers in like industries and circumstances, his citizenship with its example of thriftiness and superb management is nevertheless of the greatest benefit and well worth of emulation.
“The Pioneer Sheep Co. is one of the best equipped and one of the strongest outfits on the range today, of which Mr. Blackmore is a stockholder as well as manager and with the untiring assistance of his brother Arthur, they constitute an organization entirely harmonious and prosperous.”

The Blackmores were a wealthy English family who settled on my ranch probably in the 1890s. They may have been the first home where the Lodge sits today, which was later owned by E. Turner and then by the Charles Honnald family. Unlike most English who settled in the valley, the Blackmores appeared to be well-liked. They moved west and headquartered at Battle Creek for a time, and then may have moved further west. Some Blackmores ran a stage line between Rawlins and Baggs, Wyoming, but it is only my best guess that the family is one and the same.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"It is no trouble to raise sugar beets on Snake River that will weigh 10 lbs each. You can't raise dead beats at all for they are not allowed to grow."

Snake River Sentinel, June 21, 1907

Monday, December 5, 2011

It was negative 13 this morning, and I think I had it bad... at least I'm not a stage driver.

“The winter and spring break-ups were the most trying times for stage driving. At thos [sic] times it was humorously said that the first class passengers rode, the second class passengers walked and the third class carried poles to pry the vehicle out of the mud. During these trying times of the year it was not unusual for the stage company to keep seventy-five to eighty head of horses ready for use at the various stations, and at one time Whipple and Shaw had one hundred head of horses ready for service.
"The arrival of the stage coach was an event of importance in the early days and the stage driver himself was a man of importance. Perhaps he was not so great a man in the early buckboard days as he was a little later when he was conductor of a big Concord coach and could ‘pull the ribbons over six’ as he whirled through the valleys and over the hills. In the winter a big sleigh was used unless severe storms made a ‘single bob' advisable until the roads could be broken. Stage drivers did the shopping for scores of ranchmen and their wives and accommodated everybody. Many of these isolated settlers could not get to town and they would send by the driver for their tobacco and calico and about everything else they required. Drivers have been known to come into town with orders for the purchase of a score of articles on a single trip. Their good graces were sought by merchants and also by hotel owners for their favor meant lots of trade.
“In the spring the trails would begin to thaw out or break up, teams could travel only after night when trails were frozen. Forty years ago when a half dozen of the railroads of the state were blockaded from two weeks to as many months the Steamboat-Wolcott stage made it thru every day. If a stage did not arrive on time another team would be sent out. There were times when nine stage outfits were on the road at the same time, each trying to reach the other and carry the mail a little farther toward its destination. There was one time in a spring break-up when three men with a fresh team were four hours going half a mile. All stretches of road where drifts were likely, particularly those toward Hahns Peak, were staked with willows to enable team and driver to follow the road. Snow teams became so expert that according to stage drivers ‘they could walk on a clothes line.’” (Leckenby 58-60)