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January 13, 1861: Mouth of San Gabriel Canyon

January 13, 2011

Atardecer sobre Los Ángeles  (Sunset over Los Angeles)

Sunset over Los Angeles; by {El Gris}, on Flickr

Camp 6

Since the heavy rain ceased we have had fine warm weather—lovely days, some slightly cool (55°), and one night some frost. The peaks just above us are covered with snow, and at times cold raw winds come down from them. Such is the case tonight. The wind howls most pitilessly, shakes the tent, whistles under its edge, and flaps its sides in a decidedly lively manner.

We have the most lovely sunsets I have ever seen. I have watched sunsets from my own native hills, the finer sunsets from Ovid over Seneca Lake, from shipboard on the Atlantic and on the Pacific, finer than either on the Caribbean Sea; I have watched the sun set behind the Rhine Valley, over the plains of Bavaria; I have climbed the matchless Alps and Tyrol, and have even see it setting over the the Mediterranean, that land and sea of sunsets—but have never seen these surpassed. Professor Whitney, who has been three times to Europe and has traveled from Norway to Italy and from England to Moscow, says he has never seen them equaled. In the Alps of Switzerland, just at sunset and sunrise, a peculiar rosy pink light illuminates the snowy peaks and glaciers—the alpenglühen of the Swiss mountaineers. That peculiar and lovely tinge is even more marked here than I ever saw it there.

During the recent rains, much snow fell on the mountains above us, and the contrast of their cold tops, not ten miles distant (they seem but one mile), with our green plain, is most lovely.

Our wagon brought out a “pile” of newspapers—a real lot—two dollars worth, for New York papers cost twenty-five cents each, and San Francisco papers ten cents. Two dollars bought near a dozen. How we have perused them—the exciting political times, etc.

We heard possibly of our lost mule—may, and may not yet get him, probably the latter—but bought a horse to take his place. Professor Whitney takes him, so I get his well-trained mule, a little white fellow, for all the world like an ass, I should judge about ten hands high.

Four men were drowned near here in the recent rains, and much damage done. In town vast damage was done—adobe houses hurt—the adobe cathedral which has stood over half a century is nearly ruined, some of its walls fallen.

When we came from San Francisco near two months ago, the United States and California Boundary Commission (to run the east line of California), came down with us—a decidedly hard set. They camped near Los Angeles before we did, and have loafed there ever since—on pay of course. Their mules and camels came three weeks ago to take them across the desert, but they started not. Well, they were just ready as the rains came. They were camped near the river, which rose, swept away their tents, saddles, equipage, all—one camel was killed.2 Most of them were green hands, many of them the personal appointees of President Buchanan. They started at last yesterday.

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