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October 19, 1861: Corral Hollow, Mountain House

October 19, 2011

Mountain House Road 02

West Grant Line Road from the site of Zimmermann's; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Camp 60

After I finished writing…and went to bed, the wind howled all [last] night—a tremendous wind. I had to pile boots, saddlebags, etc., on my blankets while I rolled myself up in them to keep them, and then the wind blew through them. It was by no means a comfortable night, and I often thought of a bed at home. The moon shone bright, the sky was clear, the wind in its fury. When we got up in the morning—with eyes and faces full of dust, hair and beards full of sticks, pieces of grass, and leaves, blankets in the same fix—could you have seen us you would have thought us a rough set, to say the least. We packed up, and I sent the wagon on, clouds of dust following it down the canyon.

A pass leads over the hill into the Livermore Valley, and could we get over it it would be but six miles to Livermore’s. As it is, it is over thirty, and we must take the long road. Buggies can get over the pass, and light empty wagons. A hundred dollars would fix the hill. There is but one hill, about 1,760 feet high, or 890 feet above the valley. It rises this 890 feet in about three-quarters of a mile—somewhat steep, surely, but all the rest is a good road.

Hoffmann and I stayed in camp until noon, observing barometer. I took the time to visit a prospecting shaft near, where they are looking for coal. The shaft is a miserable hole, scarcely larger than a well, very insecurely timbered, and 150 feet deep. To hang on a poor rope, much worn, stranded in several places, and thus be let down that distance into such a hole was decidedly suggestive of accidents, but I concluded that if they could trust it for themselves, I could. I stood on the bucket and they often stopped to give me a chance to examine the strata as I went down. The worst was in coming up, for the bucket would catch against the timbers and would have to be lowered a little and tried again. Their work is folly—they never will get a profitable mine there. One seam of coal two feet thick was passed, standing nearly perpendicular, and I think that it is all they will find. The ground is so broken up by the forces that have upheaved and twisted the strata, that even if they find more, mining there must ever be risky.

Another uncomfortable night at Zimmermann’s. The wind swept through the pass, not a tree or shrub to break its force, everything dusty. The wind died down in the night…

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