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CENTRAL ROUTE TO THE PACIFIC.
On the third day of March, 1853, Congress passed a law appropriating $250,000 for the purpose of carrying into effect a plan which E. F. Beale, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the State of California, had proposed for the better protection, subsistence, and colonization of the Indian tribes within his superintendency.
The President having given his approval to this plan, Mr. Beale was instructed to proceed forthwith, by the shortest route, to his superintendency, and to select lands most suitable for Indian reservations. He was also directed, in connection with this plan, to examine the Territories of New Mexico and Utah, where their frontiers and those of California lie contiguous, and to ascertain whether lands existed there to which the California Indians might, with advantage, be removed.
Mr. Beale having, in a few days, collected a small party, and my duties calling me at this time to California, I gladly availed myself of his invitation to join the expedition, which promised to be replete with interest, not only because he proposed traversing a large tract of unexplored country, but also from its being one of the routes in contemplation for a railway from the Valley of the Mississippi to our Pacific possessions.
In the journal now offered to the public, I have endeavored to give a correct representation of the country which we traversed; and, although I do not pretend to do justice to the subject, I trust that these notes will not be altogether without value, particularly at a time when the public mind is engrossed with a
subject of such stupendous magnitude as the establishment of a trans-continental railway. It was a source of frequent regret to us, that circumstances which it is not necessary to explain here, had put it out of our power to provide instruments for a more scientific survey of this route; and I have, therefore, avoided to state anything, even in the form of a surmise, the correctness of which could only be ascertained by instrumental survey. It is often difficult to determine heights and grades with perfect accuracy, even with the assistance of instruments; random assertions, made upon mere supposition, would, there. fore, be entirely without value. The information I claim to give is such only as I believe will be found reliable and useful, particularly to emigrants; to them, any new light thrown upon the geography of the interior of our continent, cannot fail to be interesting, and they will find this journal a faithful delineation of the country through which our route led us.
In regard to the map accompanying this book, I wish to state that the portion which differs from any hitherto published, is the section embraced between the mouth of Huerfano River, in west long. 103° 20', and Little Salt Lake, in west long. 113°. No survey has been published of this region, and all information regarding it has heretofore been derived exclusively from the reports of trappers and Indian traders. Without claiming for it any extraordinary degree of accuracy, it will be found, I hope, much more correct and reliable than any map hitherto published. Almost hourly notes, with the constant use of the compass, and a correct estimate of distances, were, in the absence of instruments, my means of delineating the topography of the country which we traversed. The other portions of the map are copied from the best and latest surveys.
The route selected by Mr. Beale was, in conformity with his instructions, the shortest and most direct to California; and it also enabled him to examine, with the least delay, the localities to which it was believed that the Indians of California might be removed with advantage to themselves, should suitable lands for the purpose be found.
The following is a synopsis of the route he designed taking:
The starting point was Westport, in Missouri; from thence, leaving the River Kanzas on our right, we were to proceed to Fort Atkinson on the Arkansas, crossing the head-waters of