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August 9, 1861: New Almaden

August 9, 2011

Camp 46

[Today] found us astir early, and we came on. The valleys and canyons and the distant bay were all covered with dense fog, but we were above it, looking down on its top. As the sun came up this fog seemed a sea of the purest white, the mountains rising through it as islands and the tall trees often rising above its surface. It was now tossed into huge billows by the morning breeze, and as the sun rose higher it curled up. The scenes gradually shifted as the curtain rolled away, and the mountain landscape was itself again.

We came on, first down a gradual slope for about nine or ten miles, then down a canyon that breaks through the outer ridge, until we emerged into the Santa Clara Valley. We passed over the tableland at the base or among the foothills, about twelve miles, and camped near the mines of New Almaden….

On the way to the New Almaden Mines we met Governor Downey and his wife and sister in a carriage with driver. Guirado was ahead, and as I came up he introduced me. I was decidedly in a “rig” for introduction to such society—buckskin pants, leggins, dirty gray shirt, without coat, vest, cravat, or suspenders, begrimed with the dust of our very dusty road—yet it was all the same. We stopped and talked a short time, then passed on.

He is a wealthy man, Irish, has a ranch worth $300,000, has risen from the ranks, has a Spanish wife, is a zealous Catholic—so has the elements of political popularity here.

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