We left Holly Tuesday morning at 7:40 and found the roads rough. We traveled north quite a bit this day and it was real cold. 14 miles northwest of Holly we crossed the Arkansas river for the first time, on a long wooden bridge. I got a picture of the bridge and the river-but! At Granada, 17 miles from Holly, we got stuck in our first mud puddle. An irrigation ditch had overflowed and the road here was somewhat lower than the surrounding fields. It followed alongside the railway and a gang of Mexicans and Indians under an American foreman were working on the road. I called to the foreman and asked if I could make it and he said I could. So I drove into it-and went in to the hubs in a mess of half frozen mud and my wheels began to spin around. The foreman obligingly waded into it to give me a lift; I threw in lots of gas and ungratefully filled his face with mud. Then he called to his gang and when they all got hold we went out flying. I have been trying to figure out since how long I would have been there had it not been for the section foreman and his gang, and have duly credited the outcome to good luck.
We reached Las Animas shortly after 12 and stopped for dinner at the Palace Cafe, which is exactly my idea of no place at all to eat.
We reached La Junta at 2:30, and as it was too early to stop we were debating about going on. Trinidad, Colorado, was the next town of importance, 90 miles south. A garage man advised us not to make the trip, for he said that beyond a little station called Timpas, 23 miles out, the road was winding across prairie with scarcely a sign of habitation for the whole 70 miles, and bad roads. We were later to learn just what all might be included under that term 'bad roads"-far more things than the sins covered by the blanket of charity. Mrs. Whitaker said she was game if I was, so we bought a flash light lantern, some lunch and got a jug of water and started. We made it fine to Timpas, where sun down overtook us. Immediately beyond we began to have our trouble for we came to a fork and no way of telling which road to take. So we drove back to the store and got our bearings and started again. About 10 miles from there we turned our lights on-to find the storage battery was gone. Here was a real plight. We continued slowly, as best we could, the moon affording fair light and after considerable travel came upon some wood haulers camped for the night on a creek bank. I inquired the road to Trinidad and received the cheering information that we were six miles off our road. They directed us back to a sign post, six miles, which we had passed, but in the darkness I had mistaken the direction it indicated. We returned, and on the right trail again, continued until about 9 o'clock when the roads got so terribly rutty, full of washouts and actually dangerous that I gave it up and pulled up to one side of the trail among some sort of bushes I couldn't determine the nature of and we decided to make ourselves as comfortable as possible until morning. However, about 12 o'clock we froze out (we were now near the mountains, at an altitude of 4500 ft) and determined to try it further, We found the roads getting worse and as the moon was going down it was not only foolhardy but impossible to make headway; so I got out of the line of travel, we dug up some blankets and coats and we extracted as much sleep and comfort as possible, yet very little of either. We had just crossed a railroad track which our Blue Book placed at about half way, practically 45 miles either way to the nearest hotel or garage. I could see switch lights and a water tank on the railroad but no lights about the buildings. During the night three or four dogs made perforations in the air with their music as they chased coyotes and I could distinctly here the yip-yip of the coyotes.
I can not express the relief with which I welcomed daylight, for our quarters were cramped, to say the least, and the night was cold. When I got out of the car, where I could see, I noticed these switch lights and the water tank were at a station known as Delhi, and the welcome sight of smoke made me think of warming up. So we started the car (with effort) and drove across the prairie to this station and asked to be allowed to warm. The station was kept by a lady and a young boy of about 14, was open all night and we might have had warmer accommodations at least. The lady informed us she had been agent here for four years, and I couldn't help but wonder at the temperament of a lady who could like such isolation well enough to remain that long.
While we were warming a telephone bell rang and the lady gave the dispatcher the state of weather and the temperature, 22 above. Chilly for sleeping out, wasn't it? She informed me that the Santa Fe thru there was using the telephone system exclusively for operating and dispatching. She also said I was correct in thinking I heard coyotes during the night, as they were quite numerous, and that in the winter time they had several mountain lion and lynx. I was glad I didn't know that the night before or I wouldn't have slept the little I did.
After warming up we started on for the day and a few yards from where we spent the night found a gate to go thru, and just beyond branch roads that would have been confounding after dark. One of these led to a ranch house where I was directed to return and take another fork which forded a creek. The opposite bank was very steep and I made a run thru the water for it and then got into low. I made the hill all right, but a very short ways on I discovered my radiator was steaming violently. I got out, unscrewed the cap and the water shot up about a foot. I opened the drain cock and found it was frozen from the night's stand. Now I really was nervous, for if any of those tubes were bursted I would have a pleasant time getting to Trinidad, 45 miles away, to the nearest garage. And I would have given odds that they were. I gathered some wood from some cedar and pinion trees near by and built a bon-fire in front of the radiator and soon had it thawed out. With a great relief I noticed there was no leak, and refilling the radiator from the creek nearby we were soon on our way.
About 20 miles on further we came to a little station called Thatcher, where is kept a sort of grocery store. We drove off the trail about a quarter of a mile and inquired if we might get breakfast. Old people kept the store and the old lady reluctantly consented. We sat down to an oil-cloth covered table, much worn and soiled, and had a breakfast of bacon, biscuits, butter, coffee and Karo syrup. It really was quite well cooked and to us it tasted like an ordinary Delmonico feast might (I imagine). Our roads to this point had been bad and were sufficient evidence we couldn't have gone on the night before. We had numerous gates to go thru, and the roads were rutty from heavy freighting that had gone over them after a recent rain and many bad washouts. Prairie dogs were quite numerous. The gates were put in by the stockmen who lease the land from the government for a fee as low as 5 cents an acre in many cases, I was told, enclose a large area in a couple or three strands of barb wire, place gates on the trails, hire some cowboys, build an adobe ranch house, and they have a ranch. We could see numerous cattle grazing out there but up to date I have been unable to figure out what sustenance they could get off those dry, barren plains.
"At Poso I purchased two gallons of gas, the first place I had to pay 22 cents. It had never been more than 15 cents until La Junta, where it was 20 cents."
From Thatcher we had better roads. At Poso I purchased two gallons of gas, the first place I had to pay 22 cents. It had never been more than 15 cents until La Junta, where it was 20 cents. This place is in a new irrigation district. The town consisted of about two stores, a hotel and perhaps a couple of other buildings, all one story. But they had an elegant new school house which we were told cost $5,000. To the west of us, seemingly about five miles, were two large mountains which we were told were called the Spanish Peaks and were 45 miles away. South of us was Prospect Point, which seemed about two or three miles away, but in reality was at Trinidad, 25 miles away.
We reached Trinidad at 12:15 and decided to go on to Raton, N. M., after dinner. Leaving Trinidad we entered the mountains, going over what is called Raton Pass, a typical mountain road, winding, hilly, in some places overlooking a huge precipice on one side and a wall of rock on the other. The scenery here was magnificent and entirely beyond description. Trinidad is a mining town, dirty, and some of the Mexican homes are veritable hovels. From what I saw of the place I should judge it to be but little restrained as regards most of the vices, and to my mind would be a most undesirable place to live. It is the center of a gold mining region, has a population of about 15,000, the fourth in size in the state, and in pioneer days was an outfitting point and an army camp.
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| PHOENIX, ARIZONA, Dec. 7, 1914 | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, Feb. 19, 1915 | MOLINE, ILLINOIS, May 27, 1915 |
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