Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Scarcity of Fuel, and Discomfort

We made only twelve miles on this day, and then camped on the open prairie where we were sadly in need of fuel, being obliged to scrape up dried grass and gather even the tiniest twigs. The scarcity of fuel was no more than might have been expected, for now we were coming to that part of the country where wood was a rarity.

Next day the wind blew strong and cold from the northwest, and the cattle hurried onward in order, as it seemed, to keep up a circulation of the blood, therefore before we encamped, our party had advanced twenty miles nearer our destination; but all the men and boys were decidedly uncomfortable in body.

We had crossed five or six creeks which were no more than half their usual height; but the beds of the streams were so soft that we were forced again and again to wade in that we might lay our shoulders to the wheels when the wagons were stuck fast in the mire.

To work in water nearly above your waist for half an hour or more until having become thoroughly heated and then come out into that chilling wind, was indeed a hardship.

During the next day, which was the 7th of June, we saw the first signs of buffaloes, and then indeed our hunters were wild to go out and kill some of the huge animals, insisting that I lead the party.

Through these bottom lands, which were from two to four miles wide, there ran in every direction buffalo paths, which had been traversed so often by the animals that they were no less than fifteen inches wide and four inches deep in the solid earth, and as smooth as if cut out with a spade.

Although we knew that buffaloes ranged in this region, it would indeed have been folly to set off, especially at nightfall, with the idea that we might find a herd, and so I told the eager ones, who grumbled not a little, believing I refused to lead them in the chase because of my own indolence.