Last of the Great Scouts HTML version

The Last Of The Great Scouts
THE story of frontier days is a tale that is told. The "Wild West" has vanished like mist in
the sun before the touch of the two great magicians of the nineteenth century-- steam and
The route of the old historic Santa Fe trail is nearly followed by the Atchison, Topeka
and Santa Fe Railroad, which was completed in 1880. The silence of the prairie was once
broken by the wild war-whoop of the Indian as he struggled to maintain his supremacy
over some adjoining tribe; the muffled roar caused by the heavy hoof-beats of thousands
of buffaloes was almost the only other sound that broke the stillness. To-day the shriek of
the engine, the clang of the bell, and the clatter of the car-wheels form a ceaseless
accompaniment to the cheerful hum of busy life which everywhere pervades the
wilderness of thirty years ago. Almost the only memorials of the struggles and privations
of the hardy trappers and explorers, whose daring courage made the achievements of the
present possible, are the historic landmarks which bear the names of some of these brave
men. But these are very few in number. Pike's Peak lifts its snowy head to heaven in
silent commemoration of the early traveler whose name it bears. Simpson's Rest, a lofty
obelisk, commemorates the mountaineer whose life was for the most part passed upon its
rugged slopes, and whose last request was that he should
{illust. caption = {signature of} W. F. Cody} be buried on its summit. Another cloud-
capped mountain-height bears the name of Fisher's Peak, and thereby hangs a tale.
Captain Fisher commanded a battery in the army engaged in the conquest of New
Mexico. His command encamped near the base of the mountain which now bears his
name. Deceived by the illusive effect of the atmosphere, he started out for a morning
stroll to the supposed near-by elevation, announcing that he would return in time for
breakfast. The day passed with no sign of Captain Fisher, and night lengthened into a
new day. When the second day passed without his return, his command was forced to
believe that he had fallen a prey to lurking Indians, and the soldiers were sadly taking
their seats for their evening meal when the haggard and wearied captain put in an
appearance. His morning stroll had occupied two days and a night; but he set out to visit
the mountain, and he did it.
The transcontinental line which supplanted the Old Salt Lake trail, and is now known as
the Union Pacific Railroad, antedated the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe by eleven years.
The story of the difficulties encountered, and the obstacles overcome in the building of
this road, furnishes greater marvels than any narrated in the Arabian Nights' Tales.
This railroad superseded the Pony Express line, the reeking, panting horses of which used
their utmost endeavor and carried their tireless riders fifteen miles an hour, covering their
circuit in eight days' time at their swiftest rate of speed. The iron horse gives a sniff of
disdain, and easily traverses the same distance, from the Missouri line to the Pacific
Coast, in three days.