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whole mass of water rushed, foaming and tumbling in a furious manner; a dangerous rapid was thus formed of several hundred feet in length, extending from bank to bank. The two skiffs made the descent in safety, although the waves rolled so high that each plunge filled them almost to overflowing. The flat-boat was not so fortunate ; totally unmanageable, she ran square against the rocky walls, splintering and tearing away her entire front; such was the force of the blow that the crew were knocked flat on their backs, and the boat-hooks left firmly imbedded in the crevices of the rocks. Thrown back by the great swell, she commenced floating stern foremost down the rapid, gradually sinking. The men stuck to her faithfully, and the skiffs were put into immediate requisition ; but by the expert swimming of two of the men, both Mexicans, who had dashed into the current ere the sound of the crash had died away, and seized her lines, she was landed on the end of a sand-bar which most providentially lay at the foot of the rapid ; a few feet further, both men and boat would have been destroyed, and our allprovisions and ammunition-irrecoverably lost, the perpendicular banks offering no foothold where to land. With means at hand to repair the wreck, we were again afloat the following day, our craft bereft of all her fair proportions.
Before closing this report, I cannot refrain from informing you of the very able and willing assistance rendered me by my assistants, Messrs. E. A. Phillips and E. Ingraham, and Prof. Conrad Stremme; and of the patience and perseverance displayed by them and the men composing the party, under circumstances most peculiarly trying. I am, sir, very respectfully, you obedient servant,
. N. MICHLER, ..
Lieut. Corps Topographical Engineers, U. S. A. Major W. H. EMORY, U. S. A.,
U. S. Commissioner.
.: SAN VINCENTE TO PRESIDIO DEL NORTE.
FORT DUNCAN, December 1, 1852. SIR : In accordance with your directions, I have the honor to make the following report on the topographical survey of that portion of the Rio Grande intrusted to my charge. The survey commenced a few miles above Fort Leaton, in the neighborhood of the Presidio del Norte, and extended to a point about one hundred and twenty-five miles above the mouth of the Rio Pecos, embracing a section of country which for ruggedness and wildness of scenery is perhaps unparalleled.
The appearance of the valley in the vicinity of Fort Leaton, with its succession of plains and arable bottoms, forms a contrast to the rugged country beyond. From this valley, which is from one to three miles wide on each side of the river, we suddenly enter the range of the Bofecillos mountains, through which the river has found or forced a passage, forming extensive rapids at its entrance.
A narrow path along the river on the American side is the only means of passage in the immediate vicinity of the stream; and numerous rocks and branches of trees obstruct even this narrow trail.
The cañon of the Bofecillos mountains is less rugged in its character than those met with subsequently. Although the passage of a mule train on the immediate borders of the river is utterly impossible, there is on the American side a valley extending nearly parallel to the course of the stream, at a distance varying from two thousand to three thousand feet; along this passes an extensive Indian trail, but to all appearances not recently used. Dangerous and long
rapids occur where the river leaves the cañon, and the country loses entirely the features which characterize the north side of the Bofecillos range. The hills approach and recede from the river in varied succession ; nearly always, however, admitting of the possibility of carrying the line of survey along the river bottom, at least as far as the Comanche Pass. Scarcely a tree or branch of the smallest size marks the hill-sides or summits, and it is only on the immediate border of the river that the eye, wearied by the continued succession of sterile plains, is relieved by the sight of verdure ; and this only when the rocky barriers recede sufficiently for a narrow strip of soil to form.
Comanche Pass, on the Rio Bravo, the most celebrated and frequently used crossing place of the Indians, was found to be just below this Bofecillos range; here broad, well-beaten trails lead to the river from both sides. A band of Indians, under the well known chief Mano, (hand, crossed the river at the time of our visit; they had come, by their own account, from the headwaters of Red river, and were on their way to Durango, in Mexico—no doubt on a thieving expedition.
At this pass the hills on either side are less elevated, and to the northwest the depression seems to extend many miles. Below the crossing the river passes through a country varying but little from that which was met with above. The San Carlos mountains rise in front to a considerable height. The strips of bottom land now become narrow, and occur at longer intervals.
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The passage of the river through these mountains is grand and imposing. The entrance is shown in the accompanying sketch; dashing with a roaring sound over the rocks, the stream, when it reaches the cañon, suddenly becomes noiseless, and is diminished to a sixth of its former width; it enters the side of this vast mountain, which seems cut to its very base to afford a
passage to the waters. On the right of the entrance, the rock is rounded and smoothed by the action of the water into an artificial appearance; on the opposite side the mountain receives the river in its full force. It is impossible to keep along the edge of the stream in its course through the mountain, and just as impossible to navigate it. The rapids and falls which occur in quick succession, make the descent in boats entirely impracticable.
A detour by San Carlos was rendered necessary, and the river was again reached at a point some twenty miles below the lower termination of the cañon. It is in the passage through these mountains that the well defined rapids of the Rio Grande occur," which from their extent, and their near approach to a perpendicular line in their descent, merit the name of “falls." From the edge of the cañon the river may be seen far below, at a distance so great as to reduce it in appearance to a mere thread; and from this height the roar of the rapids and falls is scarcely perceptible.
It was impossible to approach them in consequence of the rugged nature of the country; the fall of the river at this point, however, may be estimated at twelve feet, without including the rapids above and below. The stream is hemmed in by the cañon for ten miles, and then leaves it with the same abruptness that marks its entrance.
It was here found necessary to cross the mule train from the Mexican side, where it had travelled since the commencement of the survey. This was effected, though with considerable difficulty, at one of the usual crossings of the Indians. Near this point, for some distance above
and below, the country is more open, the valleys broader, and are susceptible of cultivation ; the bottom land is, however, limited by an elevated bank of gravel. There is also an abundance of cottonwood and mezquite timber.
Whenever the spectator was elevated sufficiently to see beyond the valley of the river, two prominent peaks were always presented to his view: one of these marks a summit in the range of the Mexican Sierra Carmel; and the other, from its peculiar shape and great height, was long and anxiously watched during the progress of our survey. From many places on the line it was taken as a prominent point on which to direct the instrument; and, though the face of the country might change during our progress down the river, still, unmistakable and unchangeable, far above the surrounding mountains, this peak reared its well known head. The windings of the river, and the progress of our survey, led us gradually nearer to this point of interest, and it was found to be a part of a cluster, rather than range, of mountains on the American side, known as “ Los Chisos." For this peak, a view of which is here given, we have proposed the name of Mount Emory.
Mount Emory-Los Chisos mountains - Rio Bravo del Norte. After passing this range of mountains, the survey was carried on with less labor than was previously encountered until we reached the Sierra San Vincente. Through these mountains the river forces its way, forming a cañon that equals the San Carlos in many places both in ruggedness and grandeur. A small party only could attempt the survey of this part of the line; and the command was divided, one party accompanying the mule train, and the other, under my personal charge, crossed the mountains. Here we experienced another series of falls or sharp rapids far down in the abyss along which the river finds its difficult course; the roaring of the waters announced a more than usual disturbance, and the boats soon encountered difficulties which, for one of them at least, were insurmountable. In this, as in other cañons, it was impossible to carry the line nearer the bed of the river than the summits of the
adjoining hills. Two days were necessary to overcome the obstructions of the passage through this cañon, from the top of which we thought we saw a comparatively smooth country extending nearly to the Sierra Carmel, the highest range of mountains seen on the Mexican side of the river. On a high mesa of gravel, some sixty feet above the level of the river bottom, is situated the old presidio of San Vincente, one of the ancient military posts that marked the Spanish rule in this country, long since abandoned, the adobe walls are crumbling to decay, and scarcely a stick of timber remains in the whole enclosure, except in that part devoted to the chapel. The line of survey was connected with this place at a point distinguished by a survey flag, and distinctly pointed out in a note left, in accordance with your orders, for Señor Salazar, of the Mexican Commission
Continuing the survey from the Sierra de San Vincente, it was soon found that what in the distance seemed to be a smooth and open country was really rough and broken."
It proved to be a country cut up with deep arroyos, presenting to the survey almost insurmountable obstacles. Passing these arroyos, a wild valley, nearly at right angles with the course of the river, preceded the approach to the cañon of Sierra Carmel, another of those rocky dungeons in which the Rio Grande is for a time imprisoned. No description càn give an idea of
the grandeur of the scenery through these mountains. There is no verdure to soften the bare and rugged view; no overhanging trees or green bushes to vary the scene from one of perfect desolation. Rocks are here piled one above another, over which it was with the greatest labor that we could work our way. The long detours necessarily made to gain but a short distance for the pack-train on the river were rapidly exhausting the strength of the animals, and the spirit of the whole party began to flag. The loss of the boats, with provisions and clothing, had reduced the men to the shortest rations, and their scanty wardrobes scarcely afforded enough covering for decency. The sharp rocks of the mountains had cut the shoes from their