Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. N. P.
Saint Paul, Minnesota.
On the 25th of the same
month, in response to my application therefor, more specific instructions were
forwarded to me, and, in pursuance to the recommendations therein set forth, I
immediately repaired to Fort Hall, near Snake River, in the Territory of Idaho,
and there united with that part of Dr. F. V. Hayden's geological survey which,
under the immediate direction of Mr. James Stevenson, his assistant, was charged
with the exploration of the valley of the Snake River to its junction with
Henry's Fork, and thence along that stream to the head-waters of the Madison, at
or near its union with the Fire Hole River, where, at the Lower Geyser Basin, it
expected to unite with the main portion of the survey, which, under the charge
of Dr. Hayden, was approaching the same point from the north. On our way thither
we deflected from the main route, and visited the Three Tetons, so long known as
the great landmarks of that portion of the country. With much difficulty the
ascent of the loftiest of these singular mountains was effected by Mr. Stevenson
and myself. The general topography of the country was corrected in many
important particulars, and much needful information respecting its adaptation to
utilitarian purposes obtained, to which, but for its connection with
improvements which have an important bearing upon the interests of the park, as
they will be fully presented by Mr. Stevenson in his report, I should scarcely
The park is at present accessible only by means of saddle and pack trains, a mode of travel attended with many privations and inconveniences. As it is likely speedily to become an object of general interest, both at home and abroad, some safer and more convenient and expeditious mode of communication is desirable. A few years only can elapse before it will be reached by railroads; but until then it must be accommodated with good wagon-roads, or remain unvisited except by the few who are willing to endure the privation and exposure incident to horseback travel. The access to it from the south, by way of Snake River, is favorable to the cheap construction of good wagon-roads. The visitor can now approach the Geyser Basin with a wagon to a point fifty miles above the junction of Henry's Fork with Snake River. Thence to the basin is about eighty miles. The route passes over or through the main range of the Rocky Mountains, by either the Henry or Targee Pass, either one of which needs but little improvement to convert it into a remarkably fine road. For the entire distance, although in the midst of the mountains, such is the favorable configuration of the country that a road can be built without a grade to exceed fifty feet to the mile.
Another route, commencing at the same point on Henry's Fork, and following up the Middle Fork, is entirely practicable. The only obstacle is the obstruction offered by fallen timber for a portion of the distance, and this not a serious one. This route would be shorter than the other, and lead more directly to the Geyser Basin and Yellowstone Lake. Go to next page