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Chapter Three
OUR TRIP OVER THE OREGON TRAIL / Site contents / Personal Interests

CHAPTER THREE

Lamar, Colorado

Our first town in Colorado was Lamar, half a mile off our road, but we drove into town for supplies, and had to cross the Arkansas River on a bridge, the first bridge found on the journey so far.

We had seen our first irrigation a day or so earlier, in Kansas, and here it was again, and the most green fields one could wish to see, but none knew what the crop was. We camped in a lane, also the first lane on the trip, and this green stuff was on both sides of the road, knee high between both fences.

Thinking our horses and mules would fill up, we quickly unharnessed and turned them loose. Well, they would not eat it. A man came by on horseback, and I asked him what it was. He said, "Alfalfa." I asked what it was good for, and he said, "Any kind of stock, but they have to get used to it.". We were out of the alfalfa belt before they got used to it, and we saw no more until we crossed into Idaho.

We had been used to paying $1.00 for horse-shoeing in the I.T. In Colorado, it was $4.00. And once was enough of that. I bought what they called stock shoes, of the size my horses took. These had toe and heel corks already welded on, and the shoe could be shaped over a wagon tire to fit the hoof. They didnīt last long, but they cost only twenty-five cents each, and I could put them on.

Denver, Colorado

Turning north at Lamar, we headed for Denver. We crossed a dry and almost barren waste land, with little water and no wood. For days we gathered "cow chips" for cooking. At Denver, there was irrigation and luxurious crops.

We drove up Colfax Avenue, a distance of 10 miles, before coming to the post office. The avenue was filled with bicycles weaving in and out, across and both ways. I had a bald face pony that I could hardly keep in the road on meeting the first few way out of town, and my conviction was that I could never get through town. Mr. Vineyard drove around me and took the lead. From there on, Baldy felt safe, and was docile from there all the way through Denver, never again shy when we met a bike head-on in a narrow road. Donīt ask what we would have done if we had met a car. None of us had seen one, and we probably would have run away ourselves and let our horses look out for themselves.

At noon, we stopped at a usual camping place north of town on the Platte River, close by the State Penal Institution. We could see the inmates gathered at the windows staring at us through their heavy bars. Was kind of a damper on the spirits of all. No cracks were made about "jailbirds".

Scotching the Colorado Rockies from Fort Collins

On from there we went to Fort Collins, a college town, and the cleanest and most beautiful place we had seen. From there we started to climb the Rockies, but not as we had expected.

For days we would travel on broad planes with very little uphill, and wonder when we would come to the mountains, but every mile was uphill, and every little hill was very hard to pull up.

At every little elevation, someone would walk behind the wagon to chock the rear wheels with rocks, to save the wagon from running back while the teams rested. Our brake blocks began to wear out, and somebody always had to repair a brake block at night or morning sometimes at noon. Those walking behind we called "Scotchers."

After scotching a few pulls, they could hardly keep up with the wagon to make the next scotch of 20 or 30 feet away. If not scotched, the wagon would pull the team back. On one hill I saw Allie fail twice to get up to the wagon before it stopped, and it started back. She was all out of wind. I left mine blocked and started to run to help her on the next stop, but by the time I caught up to her, a distance of less than 100 feet, I could hardly breathe myself, and my legs didnīt have the strength to hold me up.

We sometimes had our brakes good enough to lock both wheels, but they soon wore down, so we had to scotch again. A few days with a few steep places down hill, and the brake blocks had channels cut in them by the iron tire.

Allie was Mr. Vineyardīs official scotcher, since he had to drive. You could hardly do both. Joe scotched his motherīs wagon and she drove. The other men scotched with their wives driving. Williams and I took turns.

We were now headed for Laramie, Wyoming, and it was still up, ever up.

Laramie, Wyoming

At Laramie, on departing, a terrific snow and wind storm hit us head-on, so we drove out of the road and headed the other way. In an hour, the sun was shining, and we went on northwest between two mountain ranges, Medicine Bow and Laramie Mountains. It looked like the top of the world.

When we rounded the north end of Medicine Bow Range, it was miles of flat country. We didnīt seem to be on any mountain. From this vast plateau, we looked in all directions, right over the horizon, but for days we couldnīt tell if we were higher or lower.

Medicine Bow Range,Wyoming

Here I fell out with Williams, told him to get his duds and hit the road, We were ready to start from camp one morning, and the last thing I did was throw the saddle on Molly. As I did this, he asked me if I wasnīt going to feed her. Up to now, he had fed her when he fed the team. I blowed my top. It was already cracked from some disrespectful remarks he had made about Mr. Vineyard, and I only needed this one more straw to crack it open.

Williams went over to the others, telling them the old man had kicked him out, and of course, he was crying. They naturally felt sorry for him, and so did I. Mr. Vineyard took him in the wagon to ride with Joe, and Joeīs mother got in with Mr. Vineyard and the girls.

I considered very seriously whether I should tell Mr. Vineyard what Williams had been talking about, but decided to keep my trap shut and drive away and loose them. So I drove the limit that day, and a time after dark. They didnīt catch up. Next morning I was rolling at daylight. Just Walter and me now, with the team and Molly.

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