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or less fertile valley of the Jordan. It would be nearer correct to call Black Rock the most northerly main-land extremity of the Oquirrh ; for Church and Fremont Islands take up the broken line of the range, and carry it nearly across to the great promontory which juts many miles into the lake from the northern shore to form Bear River Bay. Just after leaving the eastern edge of the city, our road crossed the Jordan, here a sluggish stream, eight or ten rods wide, with low fenny shores steaming under the sun, and exhibiting no signs of life or cultivation. From the low wooden bridge straight westward to the Oquirrh, the land is an alluvial flat, boggy and reedy wherever it can be reached by the overflow of the Jordan, covered with a loose soil on the surface of the terraces marking those successive levels of elevation to which I have referred in speaking of the hot springs and their vicinity. On this ascending series of plains, no trees or large shrubs are anywhere visible. The vegetation of the moister portions chiefly consists of various sedges, rushes, and grasses: comprising an Equisetum, or scouring rush; a species of Juncus (the Ballicus, qu. = Bulbosus 2); the blue-eyed, feather, hedgehog, and squirrel-tail grasses (Sisyrinchium, Eriocoma, or Stipa, Elymus, and Hordeum); with a variety of Scirpus, or club-rush, and of the Chara, or feather-bed plant, in the pools and marshes. On the higher levels, our old comrade, the sage, appears again, and a plant somewhat resembling it in fetid pungency, the hemlock geranium (Erodium Cocutarium). The yarrow (Achillea Millefolia) exists here, as, indeed, it seems to exist over the whole Continent, having followed us through every change of climate and physical condition over mountain and plain, from the Atlantic side. The same may be said of the As clepias, or milkweed family, which, in the Rocky Mountains as well as here, appears in much greater profusion and number of varieties than at the far East. Here, too, are those other cosmopolites of the flora, the fleabane (Erigeron); the golden-rod, the mouse-ear, a variety of the evening primrose; one or more of the asters; a gentian; the Argemone, or “horn-poppy;” the veined dock (Rumex Venosus); the true and the bastard toad-flax (Antirrhinum and Comandra); a hogweed (Ambrosia); many leguminous . tribes; a species of thistle, a clematis, and the wild rose. These reveal themselves to minute research; in a single afternoon, and without going two miles from the road, a botanist, with well trained powers of observation, might discover them all, and many more possessing considerable beauty and marked interest, from the fact that they are peculiar to the region. But the country in its general view, as taken from the road, possesses no salient features. It is a dreary waste of sun-scorched brown, excepting in the spots, few and far between, where the stinginess of the heavens has been supplemented by human industry, and the melted largess of the snow-range brought down to nourish vegetable life by irrigating apparatus in the form of conduits, where that is possible; by windmills, pumps, reservoirs, and ditches, where the mountains are too far off to afford the quantity and force of water requisite for a steady current through the thirsty fields, or where the Jordan and its tributaries run in the immediate neighborhood. In the month of July the cereals are ripe for the sickle; and Brigham Young himself told me that on a tract which he had seen, and belonging, if I remem
ber rightly, to himself, eighty bushels of wheat had been raised to the single acre. Astonishing as this crop appears in comparison with the best results of our Eastern farming, it did not surprise me after I had seen the standing grain upon vast fields, on whose irrigation no expense had been spared, and whose product was like a solid vegetable plush or green velvet, the threads in whose pile were six feet high, and so closely packed together that they had scarcely room to bend under the wind, and the field seemed to ripple merely on its surface in chasing waves of sun and shadow, Nor does it astonish any one who compares the soil of Utah with the analysis of those inorganic substances which wheat must derive from the soil. Sprengel's analysis gives the following result for the 11.77 lbs. of ash left after the combustion of 1,000 lbs. of grain wheat, and the 35.18 lbs. remaining from an equal weight of similarly treated wheat straw : —
The results are expressed in pounds and decimals of pounds.
The decomposed feldspar and limestone which constitute the soil of the terraces, consist as follows: The feldspar, of silica, 64.8; alumina, 18.4; potash, 16.8 per cent.; or, silica, 68.7; alumina, 19.5; soda, 11.8; and in some cases of 20 per cent. of lime replacing the other alkalies, with a nearly equal division of the remaining 80 per cent. between silica and alumina: the limestone, of sulphates, phosphates, and carbonates in various proportions, the last frequently associated in the form of dolomite with carbonate of magnesia to the extent of nearly half the weight. Chlorine necessarily abounds in a soil which at one time was covered by a solution of its product with sodium; and were not sulphur plentifully supplied by the decomposition of gypsum, enough of it exists in the virgin state throughout Utah to furnish material for crops demanding it. In the sesquioxide, the sulphide, the chloride, and numerous other combinations, iron is found throughout the detritus of all rocks which have formed portions of the ancient lake border. A soil could scarcely be prepared in the laboratory by artificial synthesis, better adapted for the growth of the cereals. The only desideratum which gives the Mormon farmer any anxiety is water. Even on the desert, the lack of this element is the only obstacle to a successful cultivation of wheat, rye, oats, and barley. In the vicinity of the springs, of artesian wells, or of the little rivulets born on the summits of the independent peaks (the “lost mountains” as the natives poetically express their isolation), and managing to reach the level without entire absorption by the hot sands, the luxuriant green which marks the oasis proves how rich the desert is in every solid element of fertility. Before leaving Utah, I shall endeavor to show that a large, if not the greater, proportion of all the barren tract now called “desert,” as legitimately to all appearance as that of Sahara, may be converted by the outlay of comparatively small labor and capital, under the guidance of scientific enlightenment, into a district no less productive of all vegetable food demanded by the necessities of human life than the areas most famous for fertility in the Genesee, Ohio, and Mississippi Valleys. At present let us return to our road. The dull, tawny hue of the bare ground, and the brown monotony of the withered vegetation, was strangely contrasted with the vapory gold of the atmosphere, where it floated over the fens of the Jordan in a languid dream of midsummer and midnoon, with the intense blue of the cloudless sky, and the rosy surfaces of the Wahsatch behind us, the Oquirrh in front. Both ranges looked close by ; the broken lights and shades seemed laid in as distinctly as by some delicate pencil, and the terraces or “benches” of the slope which faced us on the west, were as clean-cut as the steps of a temple. Nothing on the palette of Nature is lovelier, more incapable of rendition by mere words, than the rose-pink hue of the mountains in that rainless climate, unmodified by any such filtering of the reflected light through lenses of forest verdure as tones down and cools to a neutral tint the color of all our Eastern mountains, even though their local tint be the reddest sandstone. The Oquirrh has hues which in full daylight are as positive ruby, coral, garnet, and carnelian,—at sunset and in twilight as positive amethyst, jacinth, topaz, and opal,—as the stones which go by those names themselves. No amount of positive color which an artist may put into his brush can ever do justice to the reality of the Rocky Mountains, the Oquirrh, the Humboldt, in noon or at sundown. The road was in good condition, and we reached the base of the Oquirrh in about three hours. Passing around a low spur of the mountains jutting north