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SOIL, ETC., OF NEBRASKA.

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cattle, but little more which tempts the farmer. It is for a great distance unbroken by hills. For eighty-five miles west of Fort Kearney the road to Fort Laramie is wholly level. A gentle rolling country then begins. It is upon these sandy plains that the buffalo are now first found by westward emigrants.

Fort Laramie is three hundred and twenty-seven miles west of Fort Kearney by the travelled route, and six hundred and thirty-nine miles from Fort Leavenworth. It is situated on Laramie's Creek, a rapid stream, about sixty yards wide, with a firm pebbly bottom. This stream rises in the Black Hills to the west, and falls into the north branch of the Nebraska, about half a mile below the fort. There is good grazing on the creek, and pine and cedar wood for the purposes of the fort are procured from the hills on the north of the river, at a distance of about eight miles.

Westward of Fort Laramie the country is more broken and hilly. The spurs of the Rocky Mountains are covered with pine forests. The plains beneath are sometimes broken into more uneven surfaces, so as to render travelling more difficult. Thus the route up the North Platte to the Great South Pass, the route followed by all Oregon emigrants and by most of the California parties, is more severe beyond Fort Laramie than to the west of it. The route followed by the track of the emigrants shows specimens of coal for forty miles. Major Cross has no doubt, from his observations

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there, * that, from Deer Creek to Sweet Water river, the country abounds in it. It is found on the left bank of the river at the Mormon ferry, and up to the valley of the Sweet Water the hills bear every sign of it. He expresses the opinion that the coal region continues entirely across to the Wind River Mountains, and says it evidently exists in great quantities. His specimens were of a very fair quality.

Col. Fremont says, of the same region, “In the precipitous bluffs were displayed a succession of strata, containing fossil vegetable remains and several beds of coal. In some of the beds the coal did not appear to be perfectly mineralized; and in some of the seams it was compact and remarkably lustrous.” For several days he notes the appearance of coal.

South of Fort Laramie, a trail, crossing the head waters of the Platte and the various forks of the Kanzas, leads to the Pueblo, on the Arkansas, and to Bent's Fort. This trail opens to observation a country mostly barren, like the plains below, sometimes broken by the spurs of the Rocky Mountains, and occasionally showing, by the infrequent water-courses, fresh and

The view which we have now taken of the great valleys of the Missouri, Yellowstone and Nebraska rivers, of their tributaries, and of the ranges between them, covers the whole territory established under the recent act as the territory of NEBRASKA. Of this vast region, which is from

green meadows.

* In his report to government of 1850.

SOIL, ETC., OF NEBRASKA.

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north to south six hundred and thirty miles, and almost the same general width from east to west, the south-eastern portion will be that which will first attract the attention of settlers. The "divide" between the Kanzas river and the Nebraska is one of the most promising regions now thrown open to settlers. The boundary line, which is the parallel of 40°, leaves the larger part of this "divide” in the NEBRASKA territory. The lower part of the immediate valley of the Nebraska may offer some attractions to settlers, and the adjacent parts of the Missouri valley are, undoubtedly, highly attractive. It is there that the small reservation is made for the Iowa Indians, which has been described in the last chapter.

The northern parts of the territory will remain, for some time to come, principally in the hands of the fur traders. From the Upper Missouri, were sent, last year, buffalo robes to the number of one hundred thousand, and the value of three hundred thousand dollars, and other peltry, worth fifty thousand dollars. But, as we have seen, there are attractions, all the way up that river, which will every year draw further and further north, first the more lonely settler, and then companies of emigrants to follow

up

his discoveries. The northern route for emigrants to Oregon will probably gain more favor than it has done, --so great is the advantage of a steamboat navigation, even of three times the length of the land trail, to the very foot of the Rocky Mountains. Lumber, coal, and other natural resources of the northern parts of the territory, will also be inducements, not to explorers only, but to settlers. The success of the native tribes in the cultivation of the soil, even as far north as the parallel of 48°, shows that the climate is not unfavorable to agriculture.

We proceed to speak, in similar detail, of the different parts of the southern territory, KANZAS.

CHAPTER IV.

KANZAS.

Rivers — Valleys — Soil and face of the country.

The territory of KANZAS is bounded on the north by NEBRASKA, on the east by Missouri, on the south, in part, by the line of 37°, which divides it from the Cherokee country, and, in part, by New Mexico; and on the west by the highest ridge of the Rocky Mountains. It is a strip of land, about two hundred and eight miles in width, running back from Missouri to the mountains. Its principal water courses flow eastward, from the Rocky Mountains toward the Mississippi, to which they all run. The Kanzas river and its branches, and the Upper Arkansas with its branches, are the principal streams. In the eastern parts are some small streams which flow directly into the Missouri, or into the Osage river, one of its tributaries.

The general aspect of the different divisions of this territory are thus described in a letter from the writer already quoted.

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