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Journal of Western Travel

by John McTurk Gibson
edited by Weldon Hoppe
July 18th, 1859 -- Ascending a mighty steep hill we gained another summit, and then went down the steepest ravine we have yet encountered, then up again a little further, and we are on the hilltop overlooking Great Salt Lake City, greatly inclined to become Mormons for a time. The City at this standpoint presents a very confused appearance owing principally I believe to the fact that each one has a lot, and builds only one house, and that how, and where he pleases, and cultivates his plot in accordance with his own taste, but on entering the city, the scene changes and smacks greatly of the agreeable, every sidewalk being shaded with trees, and streams of mountain water running in every street for irrigating purposes. Many peach trees are now far enough advanced for producing. The women in general are very forward and come about the wagons without any reserve for the avowed purpose of trading. Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune is in the City, driving up and down the streets like the devil taking notes as he goes and to a great extent verifying the proverb that "he that runs may read." I have been unable to see either Brigham Young or Governor Cumming. We are camped in the middle of the city, paying 25c per head for pasturing our stock. Three months today since I left home and only two-thirds of the journey accomplished, the remaining third being by far the worst.

Travelled 12 miles. We got [to] Salt Lake City at 12 o'clock. We crossed the little mountain this morning. It is 3 miles across. The city is beautifully situated at the base of the mountain. It is layed off north and south, east and west, wide streets and not less than 100 feet. Shade trees grow along the side walks, most of which are willow. Water runs along every street between side walk and street. The water is pitched from the mountain. The city is 3½ miles in length by 2½ in width and contains 15000 inhabitants, mostly foreigners and very homely as a general thing. Brigham's residence and other buildings covers a whole square. It is surrounded by a stone wall 8 feet high, 3 at the base, 2 at the top. In side of this is his residence, tithing office and warehouse and other buildings. They all gave 1/10 they produce to him. Brigham's block has some good buildings in [it]. Brigham has from 10 to 100 wives, Kimbal has more than Brigham. About one half of the citizens carry their revolver and knives all the time. I witnessed a fight this evening. There were several revolvers drawn but none fired. The city is 15 miles from the lake. This valley is from 5 to 15 miles in width and over 100 in length. 80,000 souls are said to reside in the Territory. They have four valleys. Provo is next to Salt Lake in size. This valley appears not to be an agriculture country, yet the wheat looks medium. As high as 110 bushels have been grown per acre, so they say. Corn does not do well here. Potatoes grow fine. I saw Horace Greely here to day. These valleys are surrounded by mountains.

Copyright © 1997 Weldon Hoppe
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