Thursday, June 06, 2013

Time Travel: Kansas to California, 1896

"I am stuck on California and have got it bad."

A letter to the editor of the Narka News (Narka, Kansas)

Los Angeles, Cal., Jan 1 1896

When I left Narka, [Kansas,] I promised to write to our neighbors but as we had so many -- and true friends-- I thought best to write one to you, giving a little outline of my trip, and if you will publish it, it will do for them all.

Denver and Rio Grande Railroad map, 1891
Image from Wikimedia
As we left Narka on election day, we stopped in Belleville twenty minutes, met Daisy and Grandma Short; had a pleasant chat with them, bade them good-bye, and knew nothing more until morning when we arrived at Pueblo. Here we made close connections, taking the Denver and Rio Grande for Ogden.

Along this road, the scenery is very beautiful. You would have to look up twice to see the top of the peaks while close to the track was a beautiful stream of water running very swiftly over rocks and pebbles, making it seem like old New York State.

Arrived at Grand Junction at midnight, and after leaving that stony and mountainous country, it seemed very nice to be on a level again. As this was the end of the division, the train stopped twenty minutes. I got out and looked around -- the moon was shining bright and as far as I could see, it was nice and level.

1896 Silver Certificate. Image from Wikimedia.

But let me say, before I left Narka, I wrote Dr. Mosser to meet me at the Junction, as I expected to lay over twelve hours at Pueblo, but did not for we had been bothered and burdened some with the good things our kind neighbors had given us to eat. We had thirteen packages to see after, and while changing cars, Mrs. Webb [the writer's wife] lost one grip with her pocketbook containing about $15.

At the Southern Pacific railroad bridge over the
Great Salt Lake, about 1907.  Image from Wikimedia.
We arrived at Salt Lake about twelve o'clock Thursday. We were shown the principal buildings where that people worshipped. Arrived at Ogden about three o'clock, made good connections, leaving within two minutes for Los Angeles over the Southern Pacific and going down through Nevada.

We were two nights and part of two days going through. Past [sic] through Hot Springs and the day was cold, but those springs were sending out steam.

1898 magazine advertisement for
 Southern Pacific and affiliated lines.
Image from Wikimedia.
One of the greatest sights was going through a covered bridge forty-two miles long. Saw them lighting the lamps at midday; asked them what this meant, and they told me they were going through this bridge. And such massive timbers. We were told by railroad men that there had been fifteen feet of snow on top of the sheds. It had been snowing some time before, and when we went through it was melting and dripping all the way through. Now to prove this, Mr. Editor, I will refer you to N.C. Joy, as he has been over the road.

Arrived at Sacramento about six in the evening. Next day, Saturday, at two, we came to Los Angeles. Harry and Bro. Goodman met us [at the] station.

As I have been over the city, I think it very nice. Streets are clean and broad. Have seen but one drunk man since I came here. A great industry here is the oil wells, which employs many men; soap factory, cracker factory, and fruit raising. Gardening and laundry work is mostly done by the Chinamen. Vegetables the year round. They are all through the city every day.

A forest of oil rigs near Los Angeles, 1896
  Image from Wikimedia

Harry and I have brought us a lot apiece, and instead of paying rent, I put up a shanty 14x24, boarded up and down, matched flooring, not plastered, and only had a stove in it two weeks, night and morning. Nights are cold but after the sun is an hour high, can let the fire go out.

Postcard from 1930-1945 era.
Image from Wikimedia.
Spent Christmas with Bro. Goodman's family and as today is the first day of the year, they took dinner with us. I want to say right here that my land in Kansas is for sale, for I am stuck on California and have got it bad. I never had better health; Harry weights 170, and this is a place where winds do not blow, and everyone is contented and happy.

Work is scarce in the winter as so many come to the city for work. One man in our neighborhood is putting up nine four-room houses, and it is the same all over the city. I am told there are eighteen Methodist churches here besides others. I wish the people of Narka could have the oranges that are ripening and going to waste here.


The above letter appeared on page 8 of  the January 10, 1896 edition of the Narka News (Narka, Kansas.) The Narka News reported the following on March 20, 1896:

Charles Webb recently sent H. A. Hall a box of California fruit from Los Angeles. Mr. Hall brought around a sample each of oranges and lemons to this office. The oranges, at least, grew on Mr. Webb's lots in Los Angeles.


Collagemama said...

Thanks for the fun trip by rail.

Anonymous said...

I have never posted here before, but want to let you know how much I enjoy reading about anything you post. I'm definitely a fan.

Genevieve said...

Thanks to both of you for reading (and for writing!) I loved the part at the end when Mr. Webb said, "...this is a place where winds do not blow, and everyone is contented and happy." After the Kansas prairie, Los Angeles must have seemed like a tropical paradise.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.