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THE PACIFIC RAILWAY.
line scarcely come up even to a Mugby Junction standard. Every few hours a train stays twenty minutes for a meal; a rush is made into a large bar-room, on whose clay floor stand various long deal tables; on the tables are a number of thick earthenware dishes, every course, from fish (if there is any) to dessert, being laid out ready: miners, emigrants, farmers, railway-guards, and yourself, set-to simultaneously; you are provided with one knife and fork to use through the whole campaign, and you must not be shocked at your next neighbour ladling green peas
into his mouth, and then cutting slices from the common stock of butter with one and the self-same implement. The hotel-cars, which have been so much extolled, no longer run on the Californian side; you must go on to Omaha if you want to travel luxuriously in one of those.
This Pacific Railroad does not seem to have brought prosperity to all the places which expected to reap advantages from it. San Francisco is said to have been not altogether benefited by it; for it has brought the cities of the more eastern States into more direct competition with the 'Golden City,' and the many who found there such a good market for their labour, have now to be content with lower wages and slower gains. To the original directors of the Railway Company the line has been as good as the best of gold-mines; for what with the large grant per mile made to them by the Government, and the value of the adjacent land given them in addition, the construction of the line drew nothing out of their own pockets, and, when accomplished, left them with a sure source of income which had cost them nothing.
Passing over the central range of the Sierra Nevada, the line commences to descend, and enters a series of wooden snow-sheds, extending almost uninterruptedly for fifty miles: these have only been built since the experiences of
the first winter. In one of the intervals of these snowsheds, fifteen miles beyond the summit, stands Truckee Station, close to the group of wooden houses which form Truckee Village. Two miles from this is Donner Lake, a pretty sheet of water, three miles long by three-quarters of a mile in breadth, surrounded by pine-clad hills, along the side of one of which runs the line of snow-sheds marking the course of the Pacific Railroad.
The lake takes its name from the leader of a party of emigrants who met with a fearful fate upon its shores twenty-four years ago. While on their way from the east to the diggings,' in the 'fall’ of 1846, they were overtaken here by the storms of winter, and snowed up. All the party-with the exception of one or two, who pushed on at once and reached the western slopes of the Sierra, and one old man who survived the winter after feeding, it is said, on the flesh of some of his dead comrades—died from cold and hunger.
On the south side of Truckee a rough road of twelve miles, following the course of a broad and rocky stream up a well-wooded gorge, leads to Tahoe, a village on the edge of the lake of the same name. On the way up we stop to change teams at a log-house, connected with which is a trout-rearing establishment, where are an immense number of trout of all ages and sizes, from the troutlet just developed from the egg to the fish of a pound weight, evidently thriving well in sluices of fresh running water.
Tahoe Lake is a noble expanse of blue water, thirtyfive miles in length by ten in breadth, surrounded by the wooded and rocky peaks of the Sierra, which rise gradually up from its edges to above the limits of the snow-line. The water of the lake is celebrated for its purity and its clearness. As we sit at the bow of the little steam
launch which makes daily trips across it, we look down through its calm depths, and at a distance of three miles from the shore, where the water is 150 feet deep, we can distinctly see each stone that lies at the bottom : then the water suddenly deepens to 1,700 feet, and that depth of course the eye cannot fathom. As we bathe in the water, we find it less buoyant than ordinary fresh water. Both its clearness and lightness must be due, partly at least, to the absence from it of all vegetable matter, the bottom of the lake being entirely free from weeds.
The scenery round the lake is not of a very striking character. On the west side, indeed, there is a little bay shut in by two jutting points, and surrounded on the landward side by a fine amphitheatre of steep wooded heights; it has been named Emerald Bay, and it is certainly the 'gem' of the lake.
On the eastern side is another little bay, from which a road leads up to Virginia City—a great mushroom city, which has grown up with amazing rapidity out of the silver mines beneath it. On a rocky scar' which overhangs this bay is a remarkable natural portrait of Shakspeare. It is a full-face portrait, made up of natural stains and indents in the rock; and the great poet's full forehead, deep eyes, and trim beard resting on an Elizabethan ruff, are all clearly represented. Nevada may boast of possessing Nature's own testimony to the immortal poet's being one of her own creating, meant for all time and for all people.
From Tahoe we retrace our steps by rail to Sacramento, where we spend two or three of the hottest hours which it has been our lot to experience anywhere. Sacramento is a large town made up of broad streets, lined with large but rather rough-looking shops. Being the capital of the state of California, it possesses an enormous building
styled the “Capitol, of which its citizens are not unreasonably proud. Like their streets and shops, these citizens have a thriving look about them, but rough withal : indeed, this is the appearance of the inhabitants of all the towns in California, San Francisco excepted ; you seldom meet a man whom you would at first sight ‘mistake for a gentleman.' Rough and ready, shrewd, taciturn, and thorough,' are the traits of character imprinted on their features.
We take the train for Vallejo early in the afternoon, and are soon rolling over the forty miles of heated plain that lie between the two cities. The thermometer in the car' marks 105°, and through the open windows the air comes in as from a furnace. Passengers remark on its being unusually hot even for the Sacramento valley, yet many of them are dressed in conventional black, and move about in the sun on the station-platforms with the impunity of lizards. As we
As we near Vallejo the cooling influence of the sea-breeze is felt, and the temperature on the bay, where the cool air rushes in through the Golden Gate, is only 65°, and thus a difference of 40° is experienced in a journey of three hours.
Vallejo is a thriving town of very recent origin, having been laid out,' or 'laid off,' as the expression is in California, only twenty years ago. From its position and its excellent harbour it has increased almost at a San Francisco pace, and promises to be one of the most important towns in the State. It stands at the foot of the Napa Valley, one of the richest and best cultivated valleys of California.
We take the cars' up this valley, and soon see that in the variety of its crops and the excellence of its farming the Napa Valley compares very favourably with the San Joaquin. Fields of wheat and maize alternate with vineyards and
THE NAPA VALLEY.
orchards; the farm-houses are of a neater and a more substantial appearance, and the land not under cultivation is so well dotted with oak-trees that it brings to one's mind the recollection of some English park. Half way up the valley, on the western side, in a narrow glen running up among the mountains, are an hotel and baths, called the White Sulphur Springs, a favourite resort for San Francisco holiday-makers. On either side of the glen are dense rich woods; and here, lifting their tall dark cones of foliage above the oaks, madroñas, and wild figs around them, are a few of the red-wood trees, the brother giants of the mammoth trees of the Sierra Nevada. They are, however, only young trees, for the wood of the
Sequoia sempervirens' is too valuable to be left standing, and there are now very few old trees of the kind within a hundred miles of San Francisco. Some of their stumps still remain to testify their size; one which we measure we find to be ten feet in diameter at the point where the trunk has been severed, three or four feet from the ground.
Ten miles further up the Napa Valley is Calistoga, the present terminus of the railway—a village of small size and no importance, and of which the most remarkable feature is an hotel and grounds, built and laid out by an energetic but somewhat extravagant San Franciscan on what was ten years ago an alkali swamp. The owner must have been a man who rejoiced in difficulties, for he has here attacked nature at an enormous disadvantage, and has had to cart some thousands of tons of soil to form a genial stratum for vegetation over the deadly alkali.
Six miles from Calistoga, up among the hills on the west side of the valley, are some petrified trees, probably larger in size and more perfect in preservation than any other known specimens of the kind. These trees have been but recently discovered; some small pieces of the petrified