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October 29, 1863: North Fork Smith River

October 29, 2013

[Today] we left Sailor Diggings and went west about twenty-eight miles and stopped at Lewis’ Ranch. Sailor Diggings lies in a basin or flat covered with open forests—in places oaks, grand old trees; in others forests of pines.

We rose some three thousand to four thousand feet and commanded a grand view—the distant Cascade Range, in Oregon, the fine cone of Mount Pitt, the rugged mountains of the Siskiyou in the south and southeast; while west, stretching to the distant horizon lay the broad Pacific, blue and quiet. We could see its waters for at least two hundred miles north and south and far out to the west.

We followed along on the crest of ridges for several miles, with deep canyons on every side, the soil barren but supporting a growth of low bushes, scarcely dense enough to be called chaparral, with here and there a small pine or cedar. One species of pine bears cones when but two feet high, and little trees ten feet high were fruitful with them.

The road at last sank into a very deep canyon—perhaps near three thousand feet deep—and steep, but the road is not bad. It is the great artery of supplies for southern Oregon. In this canyon, on the North Fork of Smith River, again in California, we struck Lewis’ Ranch, the first house for many miles, and here we found the neatest place and the best supper we had seen for many a day.

This is the center of a new mining district, known as the Rockland District. Copper mines have been discovered this summer, and all is excitement…

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