It is natural enough that history should be mixed with myth, to make it interesting to the populace. But it is uttery unnatural that history or myth should not be interesting to the populace. — G. K. Chesterton

Antoine of Oregon - James Otis




Across the Divide

Two days after we had this first token that winter was coming, we passed over the dividing ridge which separates the waters flowing into the Atlantic from those which find their way into the pacific Ocean, and, bringing the train to a stop before any of our people realized that we had arrived at what one might call the parting of the ways, I called out that three cheers be given for the Oregon country, at the same time pointing to the streams which were running westward.

There was great excitement in our company when it was known that we were really on the Divide, and regardless of the fact that we should have been pushing on, all insisted upon halting until late in the afternoon, in order, as Mary Parker said, that they might celebrate properly having accomplished thus much of the journey.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

That night the air was filled with frost, and we sleeping with no blankets over us, were glad to wrap ourselves in whatsoever we could lay hands upon, to prevent our blood from being chilled.

When we camped, there was no water to be seen on either hand, nothing save the sandy bed of the stream, and I verily believe all our people would have gone thirsty if I had not insisted that they dig in the sand a hole from eighteen to twenty inches in depth.

We then watched until enough brackish water had oozed up to moisten the tongues of our thirsty stock, after which, by waiting a full hour we got enough to satisfy us partly.

It was the twenty-fifth day of July when we halted at Fort Bridger and set up our tents just outside the adobe walls, for, knowing the place right well, I had no desire to spend a night inside the inclosure.