and Book design image,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
(Return to Web Text-ures)
Click here to return to
Highways and Byways of California
THE NIAGARA OF THE WEST
THE Shoshone Falls on the Snake River in Southern Idaho ranks among the most in-posing falls in the world; yet it has received from the tourists thus far scant attention. Very little exact information as to its character is to be had, and I found the railway people, both in the offices and on the trains woefully lacking in knowledge of how to get to the great waterfall. Thus it was that I stopped off from the train one night at Shoshone, supposing I was to go from there a twenty-five mile journey by stage to the Falls the next day; but I found the stage had long been discontinued and that I must travel a roundabout route by rail, a distance of one hundred miles.
I had plenty of time to look around the village the following morning before an available train came. It was a place of a thousand inhabitants, and in addition to the homes and group of stores there was a courthouse, school building, several small churches and a newspaper office. A western town has to be very diminutive indeed not to have a newspaper, and where one can exist, a rival usually gains a foothold. Then there is a fight — an endless war of words. Even in the largest of the coast cities the papers have a curious boyish habit of pitching into each other, and they give their rivals their due with no light hand. You are surprised, on reading what is said of a competing paper, that it can continue to exist when it shows such incompetence, idiocy and general cussedness, and you are informed that its office boy is superior in sense and ability to the editor-in-chief.
The settlement was huddled very snuggly together as if in dread of the open loneliness of the surrounding prairie, but really, I suppose, to take advantage of the town water system. A creek flows through the village and makes it possible to irrigate and have green lawns and flourishing gardens.
Round about was the prairie clad with gray sagebrush that seemed to extend to the ends of the earth. Intermingled with the sage were scattered tufts of bunch grass and low weeds and blossoms, but these growths fell far short of covering the nakedness of the ground, and the region looked the more somber because it had been overflowed with lava in the remote past, and rough fragments and shattered ledges were everywhere. It appeared as if it never had been and never could be of any use to mankind; yet I saw a few village cows nibbling on the barrens. Evidently they contrived to pick up a living, and I was told that many large herds of cattle and flocks of sheep grazed over the plains, and that in places along the stream were expanses of soil where flourishing fruit ranches had been established. The ranchers came from long distances to trade at the town, and they and the county business made the settlement.
The town was engirdled with rubbish, and it was clear that whoever wanted to dispose of old tin cans, worn-out household utensils and garbage simply conveyed the waste material to the outskirts and dumped it. In this forlorn outlying section was the cemetery. It was right on the open prairie and looked as if it had been forgotten. Two or three graves were marked by marble slabs, but the rest were either unmarked or had wooden head pieces on which the lettering was fast being effaced by the weather. A few of the graves were inclosed by broken fences of palings or wire, and some had lava blocks heaped up around them. While I was poking about here I disturbed a Jack rabbit. As soon as he saw me he laid back his long ears and was off through the sagebrush like a streak.
My train came presently and I went on to Minidoka and then took a branch road to Twin Falls City. This branch road had been called into existence within a year by the irrigating of the tract of country through which it ran. Naturally, the region was a sagebrush plain rising and falling in long swells and broken here and there with ragged gullies. But an irrigation company was now ready to furnish water for three hundred - thousand acres, and the government was preparing to supply a flow for half as much more territory, so the entire fifty miles along the railroad had suddenly become populous; for there are always plenty of people adrift in these newer regions who are on the watch for chances to make their fortunes quickly and easily, and they rush into any district that is opened up. Some become permanent residents. Others sell out after a while and seek still newer fields of opportunity. Many settlers are from the middle West where land has become expensive, and where a man making a fresh start has usually a prolonged struggle to own a farm. If he is adventurous or unstable he turns his yes to the undeveloped lands in remote regions which are to be had cheap and which he can make valuable by the labor of his own hands.
As a result of these tendencies I saw the cabins of the homesteaders dotting the landscape far out into the dreary desert on either side of the railroad. “When I first come here a year ago,” said the brakeman on the train, “there was nothin’ doin’ at all, and now the country is thickly populated. No crops will go in this year on the government property, because the canals ain’t finished. The people living on the land have no chance for any income from their claims. All they can do is to make sure of ‘em. You’re obliged to spend part of your time on your property and put up a house and make some improvements. Usually a man’s house is a one-room shack — just a little board shed as cheap as it can be made. Even then it costs seventy-five or one hundred dollars, for all the lumber has to come in by railroad and it is expensive.
“About the only work that can be done on the land is to grub up the sagebrush and build fences. Some hack at the sage by hand, but most hire a machine which claws it out at a cost of three dollars an acre. After that job is done the brush has to be piled up and burned.
“There ain’t many who can afford to stay continuously on their places. They’ve got to go and rustle to get mony to make payments, and they put in most of their time workin’ on the railroad, or in some town, or on a ranch. If a man has a family he leaves them to hold down the claim. I’ve got a claim myself, and so have several other fellows workin’ on the train.
“This country is said to assay ninety per cent. sagebrush and sand, and ten per cent. wind. You’re sure to have plenty of wind on such a big open plain as this, but the soil is rich, and when we get crops growing, things will look very different. Some say the hot winds blowing from the desert will make us trouble, and that with the fine sand they carry along they will bruise the foliage of our crops and spoil everything. The better the irrigation is, they say, the more tender the crops will grow and the worse they’ll be damaged; but I’m willing to risk it.
“When I was a boy I lived in New York City. A fellow is only an atom back there. If you lose your place somebody else is all ready to step into it and then you feel as if you were out of the race forever. You’re obliged to scrap like a cuss for everything you get. There’s room out here,” and he shrugged his shoulders expressively. “I’d rather be a big frog in a little puddle than a little frog in a big puddle. This is better’n New York any turn in the road. If you fall down there’s plenty of chances to start again, and the life is not so bound by custom. Things are free and easy. It suits me, and you won’t find many people who get used to the ways here who would care to go back. With industry and health and a square jaw there’s no reason in God’s world why a man shouldn’t get along.
“But of course not everybody sees things the same as I do. My mother come out here and stayed a year and then packed up bag and baggage and hiked it back to New York. She thought this country was lonesome.”
Now and then the train stopped at a little town consisting of a cluster of shops, saloons and homes, all perfectly new and distressingly bare of vegetation. There were no embowering trees and vines and none of the repose that comes with age. Twin Falls was like the other villages, but larger and carefully laid out with broad streets, and it even had its public park. Everywhere in and around the town were the irrigation channels, some wide, some narrow, but all of them filled with a muddy flow of water, and it was this water which was to make the dead desert a land of plenty.
The town had started in the sagebrush and within about a twelve-month had grown from nothing to a place of over one thousand inhabitants. The man who had been there a full year was an old settler — a pioneer. This was to be the metropolis of the irrigated country, and it already had some substantial buildings, and the place resounded with the blows of hammers and the clink of trowels. As a whole, small structures were the predominant ones, and shanty houses, often scarcely larger than a good-sized dry-goods box, were common. Some people were dwelling in tents, or in the upper portion of a covered wagon that had been lifted off the wheels and set on the ground.
There was much coming and going of teams on the dusty highways, trade was lively in the numerous stores, and some business seemed to be doing in the two diminutive wooden banks. One corner in the heart of the town was being utilized at the time I arrived as a horse mart. Of the creatures exhibited I observed especially a pair of large handsome horses hitched at the borders of the board walk. They were in charge of a peaked little man in shirt sleeves who hovered about proclaiming their merits, and, between whiles, expectorating tobacco juice. His favorite claim with regard to his team was: “There ain’t no pimples on ‘em anywhere. They’re good sound horses, one of the finest driving teams in this country. It ain’t often you get two such as these.”
A Jack rabbit in sight
“What price do you hold ‘em for?” someone asks.
“Three hundred and a quarter,” is the reply. “Now ain’t they the prettiest things you ever laid your yes on? They’re a well-bred team and just as kind--why! I’ve gone out to the barn and found my little boys on them horses’ backs and wallowing all over ‘em and never getting harmed a mite.”
“It would cost a good deal to take care of ‘em,” said the prospective customer. “Feed is pretty expensive.”
“They ain’t heavy eaters,” responded the trader. “You give ‘em a little oats and hay and they’ll keep fat all the time. They are good to work, or for driving either. If a man wants to go to town he can just hitch ‘em up and they’ll take him. They’re a fine team anywhere. See how they’re built. There ain’t a pimple on ‘em.”
The Shoshone Falls was seven miles distant and I decided to walk thither. The route was not very direct, for I had to follow the right-angled roads with which the country had been laid off. An uneasy wind blew, and every now and then a rotary current would start and catch up a flurry of dust. Sometimes the dust would rise in a vague brown column hundreds of feet high, and I frequently had several of these wandering columns in sight at the same time. Far off on the horizon, dim with silvery haze, were ranges of mountains and two or three peaks white with snow. The heat shimmered over the plain, and the glare of the sun was a pain to the eyes. I was soon very thirsty and the dust and wind parched my lips, but I plodded on, for I had doubts concerning the drinking water to be supplied by the houses along the way.
The settlers were busy taming the land by tearing out and burning the sagebrush, and by ploughing, harrowing and scraping their holdings into a smooth grade for irrigating. Some of the crops were in the ground. There was new wheat pricking up out of the soil, and there was alfalfa, started the year before, now forming a dark green sod. I noticed that the houses were apt to have a heap of sagebrush near them awaiting use as fuel. “That’s the only thing growing on the prairie we can burn except greasewood,” one farmer said to me. “The greasewood is scarce, and we’d rather have the sage because it has larger butts. A good deal of coal is shipped in, and we depend on that mostly in cold weather. There was spells though, last winter, when enough didn’t arrive to go around, and we had to go scratching after sage. The poor families suffered some in the towns, and when things were very bad the railroad would leave a car of engine coal where people could help themselves to what they needed. A car that was out over night’ wouldn’t have much left in it by morning. It was understood with the constable that he wasn’t to watch very close and was only to arrest chronic swipers who would take the coal to saloons and sell it for booze.”
From any rising bit of ground on my walk I could see to the north a dark irregular rift in the sagebrush barren, and I knew there flowed the Snake River. The rift looked ominous, yet by no means of imposing proportions, and I concluded that any falls it might contain would be a disappointment. At last I left the farmlands behind, and the road became a narrow trail winding along through a strewing of lava blocks. Then I came to the verge of the canyon, which seemed to have expanded as if by magic to a width of a half mile, and which yawned over eight hundred feet in depth. Far down in the chasm was the great foaming waterfall. I had come from the hot, silent, monotonous prairie wholly unprepared for so magnificent a sight or for the thunder of waters that sounded in my ears. The gorge itself is of gloomy, volcanic rock devoid of any beauty in color, but savagely impressive by reason of its size, and also because its columnar and grottoed walls and vast terraces are suggestive of the planning and labor of some titanic architect and builder.
I wandered for a considerable distance along the verge of the monstrous gorge and gazed down on the misty fall from the scarp of many a projecting buttress, some of which dropped away almost perpendicularly to the dark stream at the bottom of the canyon. When I at length took advantage of a ravine to descend to lower levels I found the setting of the falls became increasingly attractive; for now the rock walls and black crags towered far above and made a most inspiring spectacle. The river itself is a stream that at the falls flows a full thousand feet wide. Immediately above the leap are rapids and lesser falls, while big boulders and various islets block the way and add to the wild beauty. The vertical final drop is about one hundred and eighty feet, and as you watch the great white tumult of waters going down into the void of foam and flying spray below, you cannot help thinking of Niagara. The latter is not so high, but it is much broader and carries far more water. However, the Shoshone Falls exhibits about as much width and power as the mind can comprehend, and its environment appeals to one far more than does the commonplace level from which the greater falls makes its descent. The on-looker feels satisfied that here is one of the noblest sights on this continent.
Clinging to the wild cliffs in the lower portions of the gorge grew a fringe of gray-trunked gnarled cedars. I saw a pair of robins flitting among them, and there were swallows winging in swift flight through the air, and high above the walls of the gorge the buzzards soared. During the previous winter the ground had been pretty continuously covered with snow, and there had been much suffering among the cattle on the range. Many had died and some had fallen over the cliffs of the canyon. So the buzzards hovered about the vicinity in force, for food was plenty. A little up stream from the falls, on the tip of an island crag an eagle had built its nest, though the casual observer would not have thought the rude heap of sticks was anything more than the broken tangle of a dead cedar.
Somewhat farther up the river in the quiet water beyond the rapids was a clumsy flat-bottomed ferryboat. As I watched it ply back and forth I could not help wondering what would happen if the wire broke. A year or two ago the present ferryman’s predecessor, after imbibing too freely of whisky, went over the falls in his rowboat, and his body was found in the river below, several days later. One foolhardy adventurer leaped from the crest of the falls. He was an Indian half-breed, and when a comrade dared him to make the jump, down he went. However, he escaped with only a few bruises, and was at once famous. Some showman arranged with him to repeat the exploit; but while making a tour with his protegé in preparation for the event the half-breed robbed his manager and was lodged in jail.
On a plateau, close by the falls, stands a rusty old hotel. There I lodged, and from its piazza at eventide I looked out on the mists rosy with the sunset light hovering over the mighty torrent and pulsating fiercely in the wind, swaying and weaving, now filling the canyon, and again all but disappearing. The volume of water in the river would be very much greater in June, the time of flood, and the spray would then fly over the hotel like rain. On its exposed sides the house was coated with a grayish deposit left behind by the mists. This gathered on the windows in a thick film that can only be removed by the use of an acid. The hotel people did not trouble to clear the upper sashes, for that portion of the windows was supposed to be hidden by the curtains, so I could see the results of the spray very easily.
The Niagara of the West
The ground quivered with the pounding of the water, and the hotel was in a tremble and the furniture shaking all night. In the morning the broad arch of a rainbow was painted on the mists. I was out early and crawled down a narrow gulch among the crannied rocks to the foot of the falls. This was a tooth and nail task, but the view of the roaring cataract from below was well worth the labor. The river here was in violent commotion, and the waves dashed on the rocky shore like the breakers of an angry sea. The scene no doubt is far wilder in time of flood, yet the falls must lose in beauty by reason of the vast volumes of obscuring mist. The cataract is at its worst in the late summer and early autumn, for then the stream is so low that a large portion of the precipice over which it flows is perfectly bare.
When I left the canyon I found a family of travellers camped in a hollow among the rocks a little before my road reached the level of the prairie. They had a covered wagon and a tent. The mother was inside cooking over the little stove that thrust its pipe out of the canvas roof. The father armed with a gun and accompanied by a small daughter was just returning from a walk through the sagebrush. “I never bagged a thing,” he said. “I didn’t even get a chance at a Jack rabbit. This country used to be full of ‘em. They were thicker’n the hairs on your head, by golly! Once I stopped up here at Minidoka and went out after supper with a friend for an hour and a half and got twenty-five. We fed ‘em to the dogs, but Jack rabbits in the season make a nice stew. They do more damage than a little. They’re awful on alfalfa, and they’ll eat all your garden stuff if you don’t fence against them. They’re a great pest, too, among the trees that are set out, because they skin the bark off and the trees die.
“This morning, a little before sunrise, a coyote paid us a visit. It sat up here on the rocks howling and our dog was barking back. I opened the window and poked out my gun and blazed away at him, but he escaped.”
There were two other girls in the family. They were gathering flowers. Blossoms were plenty, and the ground was fairly dappled with their delicate bloom, though they seemed out of place on that gray, stony waste. Among the children’s gatherings were sweet Williams, pansies, yellow violets, sunflowers that, except in color, resembled oxeye daisies, a little white flower they called stars, a kind of vetch they spoke of as ladies’ slippers, and some sprigs of larkspur.
“Don’t leave that larkspur around where the horses can get it,” said their father. “It’s poison. Larkspur kills lots o’ cattle in this country.”
The man adjusted a folding chair in the shadow of the wagon and invited me to sit down. He said he and his family were all musicians, and they went from town to town giving entertainments and playing at dances. The star performer was the smallest girl, eight years old. She could play the piano and various other instruments, but excelled on the violin, and he had her give me a sample of her art. She got out her violin, adjusted it under her chin and began playing, while he sat on the wagon brake and thrummed an accompaniment on his guitar. The music was very pleasing, for the child played sweetly and simply and with remarkable ease. When she finished, the middle-sized girl was sent to a brook for water, and the eldest with a halter in her hand went off to look for their horses, which, though hobbled, had strayed beyond sight, and I bade this hardy and happy family of “Versatile Musicians,” as they called themselves, farewell.
In the course of time I reached the town and there I made the acquaintance of another wagon family. They were settlers just arrived and had stopped on the outskirts. The man had gone to a store to buy some supplies. A small boy and girl had unhitched the horses and were feeding them and a colt a little hay from the back end of the wagon. The woman with a baby in her arms sat on the seat. She said they had been on the road for two weeks. They slept in the wagon nights. The two older children walked a good deal, and in places the road was so bad and the jolting so severe that the mother also walked. “In the mountains there was snow,” said she, “and sometimes the horses would fall down. A good many horses would kick when things was like that, but these just got up and pulled again. We couldn’t always find water. Once we had to travel thirty miles without anything for the horses to drink and they could hardly stand. I carried a little for ourselves in bottles. This country is not so nice as back East, but wages are so poor there you don’t feel like stayin’.”
Canvas-topped wagons were plentiful all through this newly-opened region. Some of the wagon people were chronic travellers and were not content to stay anywhere very long. Such were referred to as “floaters” or “boomers,” but the majority came to settle.
My last evening in Idaho was spent at Minidoka where I had to wait till midnight for the train that was to carry me home across the continent. The village inhabitants numbered possibly two or three hundred, and there were eight saloons and a drugstore in the hamlet. These drinking-places drew their chief support from the workers on the government water ditches, and They were suggestively named “The Irrigator,” “The Oasis,” etc. Not long before, the village had been the residence of no less than twenty-five professional gamblers, but the sheriff had now driven them out; “and the business men here are all kicking because he done it,” said my informant. “Of course the gamblers didn’t produce anything, and yet they gathered in the mony of the ditch-diggers and spent considerable of it right here in town. So we ain’t as well off without ‘em as we were with ‘em.”
The saloons were brightly lighted and had plenty of customers, and the place was full of drunken staggerers. As the night wore on, the station became populous with the sodden drinkers. One of the few sober persons waiting for the train was an Illinois man who had been visiting a brother up in the Boise Valley. “The land boomers have been just a boosting things there as they have everywhere else out here,” said he, “but they got a setback last summer. The ranchers have been depending on irrigation, and the water failed, and their crops were burnt out. Most men have held on to their places, but they’ve had to put a plaster on, and those mortgages won’t be cleared off in a long time.
“I been lookin’ around quite a little out here, and wherever I’ve been, these ‘ere real estate men have tried to sell me a ranch. Oh, my soul, yes! But I told ‘em there was too much wind in this country. One day a whirlwind will take your land over to your neighbors, and the next day bring it back. I like to have my land stay put.
“Another thing that handicaps the ranchers here is the smallness of the local markets. You’ve got to ship most everything great distances. The wholesalers and railroads make all there is to be made. Yes, the railroads do sock it to ‘em for freights. My brother set out a lot of peach and prune trees, but he can’t afford to ship the fruit. It seems too bad to see those peaches big as your fist goin’ to waste, and in his three acre prune orchard the prunes every year drop and lie so thick you couldn’t put your finger down anywhere under the trees without touchin’ some. If a neighbor wants to go and fill a sack he’s welcome, but my brother never harvests none.
“Some try to make mony raisin’ hay. If there comes a hard winter the price is way up, but the next winter the buyer can probably get it for whistling. On the average you’re obliged to stack it two or three years to sell it at a profit.
“I tell you, it don’t seem to me they can enjoy livin’ so much out here as we do in the East. You take this Western country and any sort of a house does for a home. Three hundred dollars or less will put up a pretty good dwelling. My brother has been livin’ in such a shack for twenty years. On the ground floor are two little bedrooms and a kitchen not over fifteen feet square. A ladder in a corner of the kitchen serves as a stairway for you to climb up to a sleeping-place under the roof. He raised seven children there, but now they’re growed up and moved away. The house is far from any town, and during the eight weeks I was stopping with ‘em I saw just two teams pass. I used to go out and hunt Jack rabbits. That was the only excitement I seen.
“Near where I was stayin’ was a valley that had so much alkali in the soil hardly anything would grow. We went across it one day. The distance was only five miles but the weather was hot, and my brother drove like the old Harry. The horses kicked up the dust, and I was filled full. ‘I golly!’ I said, ‘you’re goin’ to kill me, ain’t you?’
“But he said the quicker out of it the better. I had the awfulest eyes for the next two weeks that ever was. They were bloodshot, and each morning when I got up they were gummed together, and the inside of my nose was so sore I didn’t git any comfort. It beats all what that alkali will do for a feller.
“There’s one advantage, though, they have over the East — they don’t have potato bugs. The common run of people don’t know them at all. Now and then a sack of the bugs is shipped out here, and they think the creatures are beans. A potato bug is about the stubbornest thing I ever seen. It don’t try to escape, even when you knock it off in a can and put it in the fire. Any other bug that’s got wings would use ‘em and fly away.”
The Illinois man relapsed into silence, and slouched his hat over his yes as if he was going to try to doze. Most of the other occupants of the room sat smoking and spitting, or sleeping in dull stupor. I went out and walked back and forth in the chill night air on the long gravel platform in front of the station. A half moon was shining high in the hazy sky. The village was now dark, except for the saloons. One other person was walking as I was, back and forth with crunching footsteps on the gravel. We passed some remark presently and walked together, and my new comrade became confidential.
“I’m pretty well loaded,” he said. “It’s seldom I take so much; but I know what I’m about. I always keep my senses. To see me now you wouldn’t suspect that as a boy back East I was well brought up. My parents were good, careful people, and they did all they could to give me an education and start me right. I suppose they were a little too strict, for when I found myself free I was like a colt let loose, and I kicked up my heels. They died just as I came of age and left me twelve thousand dollars. I was my own master then, and a mighty poor master I made.
“I had always been fond of books, and it seemed to me nothing could be so pleasant as to travel and see those famous places of which I had read. So off I started, and I visited England, France, Egypt, Palestine and other countries. I didn’t spare expense. The best was none too good for me in my touring. After covering as much country as I cared to I spent several months in Paris, and there I got mixed up with the fast life, and my money melted away.
“I reached home finally with cash enough left to buy four six-horse teams and I went into the business of trucking. For a year I did well, and then within a few days I lost more than half my horses by pink ye. After that my luck went from bad to worse, till I gave up trying to make a place for myself in the world. I spend all I get. Perhaps I will keep straight for five or six months, and then I’ll have a spree that’ll leave me dead broke.
The ferry above the falls
“I’ve done only one good thing in my life. I’ll tell you about it. I had a cousin who fell in love with a locomotive engineer. Her parents didn’t like that. They thought from his occupation he was kind of low and of loose morals; and besides his work kept him dirty and away from home much of the time. They wouldn’t consent to her marrying him, but she did marry him just the same; and they were as loving a couple as I ever saw. They thought everything of each other, and when he got his wages he’d always bring ‘em home and give the whole into her keeping. Then, if he wanted of an evening to go down town he’d say, ‘May, there are one or two things I want to buy. Let me have three or four dollars.’
“She’d probably give him twice what he asked for — they were just that trustful of each other. Well, two years passed, and he was killed in a collision, and left May with a little baby girl. May couldn’t get over his loss. She tried to be brave, she tried to act cheerful; but she was thinkin’ of him all the time, and when she was taken sick she didn’t make a good fight against the disease and she died.
“Her folks took the baby, and yet because the child was the daughter of a man whom they didn’t approve of it wasn’t welcome. They didn’t treat it right. They couldn’t forgive May for marrying as she did. But heavens! what fault was that of the baby’s? It used to make me wild, and I’d tell ‘em what I thought of ‘em. That didn’t do any good, and at last I took the baby away from the whole bunch. Ever since, I’ve supported her. She’s at school back East now, and she’ll be sixteen next month. You ought to see her letters. She’s no sponge. She never begs for mony, but if there’s anything she wants she’ll say she’d like it if I think best, and the mony to buy what she wants goes to her as fast as the mail will carry it. I’ve bought lots of jewelry and clothing for her, and there’s few girls has more nice things than she does. She’s not spoiled, either.
“About once a year I go East to visit her. She’s never seen me as I am now, no, sir! I wear a good suit of clothes, and I fix up all right, and I wouldn’t think of touching even a glass of beer for a week before, lest she should smell it in my breath. When I come away I always hide a twenty dollar gold piece somewhere so she’ll find it when I’m gone. Yes, taking care of that baby is the only good thing I’ve ever done. I’m pretty useless to anyone and everyone but her. I only wish I was what she thinks I am. Say, stranger, my life would have been a blank these last dozen years without her to work for.”
It was midnight. The moon and stars looked down serenely from the vastness of the heavens and the saloons over across the tracks in the gloomy village were still brilliant and noisy. Approaching from the west I could see the headlight of my train, and off in the sagebrush, on the outskirts of the hamlet, I could hear the weird yelping of a coyote.
NOTE. — A remarkable feature of the state is the black and ragged lava bed which covers so much of the territory along the course of the Snake River. It forms a desert 400 miles long and from 40 to 60 miles wide. The lava deposit has a depth of from half a mile to a mile. Through this the Snake River has carved its mighty canyon, which at places has a depth of 4,000 feet.
The Shoshone Falls merits the attention of the tourist scarcely less than Niagara, and access to it is now reasonably easy. Just above the main cataract is the 80-foot Bridal Veil Fall, and three miles farther up are the Twin Falls. About 5 miles below the Shoshone Falls are the attractive Blue Lakes where boating and fishing may be enjoyed.
An added interest attaches to this region because a very large area of what was a sagebrush desert has recently been reclaimed by one of the biggest irrigation schemes ever attempted.