Transcript: Stangroomletter18550917 [Page 1] United States Hotel, Nevada 17th September 1855 My dearest mother Here I am at last sain et sauf. I am quite well again in capital health and spirits, only impatient to get to work. We are waiting here while the legal preliminaries are being settled and expect to start for the mountains to view the site of our works tomorrow or the day after. This is a small town up in the mountains, 2700 feet above the sea and in the middle of the forest which covers the whole mountains and country. It is nearly entirely built of wood. There are, however, good hotels and shops, and much better accommodations of every sort than I expected so far up the country, though everything has to be paid for [en:?] Washing costs 16 s./ a dozen, blacking 1 pair of boots 1 s./, and so on. Though all these items seem tremendously heavy, I do not think living altogether will cost as much as I expected. We are now in the middle of the dry season and the sun is very hot and everything is parched up, but the country is very beautiful even now. I only stayed in San Francisco 3 days after I wrote to Charly. There was nothing more to see in the town, and though a great place for business and speculation, it is very droll and we were glad to get away. We took a nice ride one day to a place 10 miles along the coast and came back along the beach. To avoid going a long way round, we took a short (!) cut across the [Page 2] sand hills which extend for miles inland. We got into a perfect desert, hill after hill rising before us, each the same as the last. The sun set without our seeing any sign of track or anything else, and the sand was so deep that we had to get off and lead our horses. We began to have serious thoughts of having to pass the night there, when from the top of a high hill we saw a windmill about a mile off. We made for it and came across a track, which we followed and which brought us onto the road back. It was capital fun and so new to get lost that way. There are a great number of Chinese in the town. They have a quarter to themselves, built by themselves in Chinese style. It was very strange and interesting and dirty. We started from San Francisco on Thursday the 6th at 4 in the afternoon by steamer up the river. After getting grounded several times, we got up to Sacramento at 2 the next morning and went to bed. I had gone alone with Dr. H. The next evening Darcy came on and joined me. At 6 Sunday morning we both started by stage for Placerville, a mining town 50 miles off, where I wanted to see some existing [costerworks?]. People that have not been on them can form no idea of stage travelling here. The roads are simply tracks through the forest, which are pretty well beaten though every vehicle chooses its own line. As no road is made, but we run on the surface, taking stones, brooks, etc., all as they come, the ups and downs of life are dreadful, and it really was as much as we could do to hold on. As for the dirt (which is the same on all the tracks in the dry season), it is tremendous, and we could often not see our leaders at all. The Perriere dust sinks into complete insignificance beside it; it is often feet deep. In the winter I believe it forms mud so [Page 3] deep as to be impassable. It was the hardest days work I had had for a long time. The only redeeming feature is the horses, and they, like all the horses in the country, were very fine. We got in at 4 p.m. We had an introduction to the manager there who was very attentive. We took horses and rode all over his works with him and to see the diggings all over the neighbourhood. It seems very strange to see men washing whole hills down with water coming from a hose like that of a fire engine. We left at 4 the next morning and came over the same road. I saw my first rattlesnake, a fine fellow lying by the roadside. We stopped and a passenger got down and shot it from philanthropic motives. We had a race with an opposition coach, broke one of our springs, propped the coach up with a branch of a tree, and at it again and won. Coaches racing on a good English road is sometimes thought ticklish work. What was this? We got back to Sacramento at 1. We went on at 7 next morning up the river by boat to Marysville, when we arrived at 5 p.m. after being aground about every 5 minutes, as the water is very low. We went on at 6 the next morning and, going through the same kind of staging, got here at 5 in the afternoon. We are beginning to get accustomed to it, but when possible we mean to travel on horseback. Four miles from here we passed through a pretty little town of about 400 houses. At 10 p.m. we saw the sky illumined and in 2 hours every vestige of the place was gone excepting the cracked walls of one or two brick houses. Although almost every man lost all he had, I have not seen one look cast down. Before the fire had done its work, timber was being bought to build again. The next day when we rode over the ground, several houses were begun again, and the next evening a saloon was actually [Page 4] finished and opened. So much for Yankees. Where Englishmen would have cried over spilt milk, they set to work and made themselves too busy to be miserable. We rode over there the next day to go over some quartz mill and all the men we met said they were only sorry they had nothing to offer us. The quartz mills are very interesting and yield very large profits where properly managed and chosen. I wish I had £2000 to invest and make 600 percent with, as some are doing. We have met with great attention and civility everywhere, everyone throwing their works open to us and some their houses. There are several Englishmen out there for companies, but none of them pay. They set the wrong way to work completely, as far as I can judge at present from disinterested opinion. Our affair is likely to be a very profitable one, and water co's are decidedly the best investments in the country, though I doubt it realizing W. W. expectations. However, I shall be better able to form an opinion in the course of a month, when of course I will tell you (Papa) all I know (privately of course). We were lucky in our boat, as on the steamer that came this week from Nicaragua, 220 out of 800 died of cholera en route. We have capital horses here, some American ones that are the steadiest but expensive, and native or Mexican ones, vicious little devils, but beggars to go. My married friend prefers the former, but I do the latter. You would be much amused to see me galloping over the hills in a large Mexican saddle, all leather and wooden stirrups. They certainly are wonderful creatures (when they have got their master) and will gallop 30 or 40 miles almost without stopping. Wouldn’t Charly enjoy it. [Page 5] One of the Englishmen I saw yesterday, a very nice fellow, has his wife here, and she and her friends often go out on riding excursions with him. I must get this off for the mail. With lots of love to Papa, Charly, Mat and Lucy, Believe me, Dearest Mother, Your ever affectionate son M. L. Stangroom Do you know anything of the Chathamites? Don’t forget to prepay your letters, to write via New York, and to wafer them.