My first view of the Columbia river was at Pasco Junction and I must confess that it was disappointing. It was just a broad river flowing through a wide plain covered with sagebrush. I saw it in a different light a few days later at Portland, when I looked down upon it from the height above that city on the Williamette, with miles of its length in view in the broad expanse of city, of forest, and plain and mountain scenery, from Mount Tacoma, looking like a vast barrier shutting in a new world to the southeast where Mount Hood pierced the sky like a snow covered pyramid.
Down through Oregon the scenery was not new to an old mountaineer but it was not without interest, and I entered California through the long tunnel under the summit of the Siskiyou range down past Mt. Shasta, and the Shasta Springs that spout mineral water high in the air. It was like the soda water of Manitou, Colorado, but far more abundant. I traveled on down to Sacramento, and to the upper end of the Bay of San Francisco, where we crossed on a ferry that took the entire train and landed it on the opposite side a mile away to continue its way to Oakland.
San Francisco was not then what it is now. It was a busy city but had its limitations. Between it and the Cliff was a stretch of sand dunes that moved with every wind. Mayor Sutro had begun reclamation east from his fine mansion on Sutro Heights and his gardens where he had to stake down the grass to give it time to take root. The Cliff House, Scal Rocks and the wide Pacific were sights, and my old fellow students of Paris. Father Flood, Cummings, and O’Connor, were hosts to receive me and make my stay enjoyable. Menlo Park, San Jose and Palo Alto were visited. The grounds of the Stanford estate were open to the public except the residence of Mrs. Stanford, the privacy of which the public was requested to respect. Stanford University was then only its beginnings, but was gathering its students in goodly numbers already. Taken all in all, San Francisco was a wonderful city where the fabled East came to mingle its romance with the gigantic civilization of the busy west.
The Union Pacific railroad from San Francisco to Salt Lake City is a long stretch of travel, and if I were to travel it again I would try to make as much of it as possible during the night-time. The long dreary passage of the desert would then be unfelt. It was dreary on the Northern Pacific from Spokane to Paco, where miles and miles of sagebrush make up the scenery, but from Keno to Humboldt one longs for the sight even of a sagebrush to relieve the monotony. Garson and Humboldt lakes are but stagnant pools that seemed to be avoided by both beast and bird. Humboldt station was the only relieving feature of the day,
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