Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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E. R. Backer Visits Kansas 1880

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Wellsboro Agitator, 25 May 1880
Western Crops and Scenes
A rapid trip to Santa Fe – Tioga Count People in Larned – The Crops along the Road – Through the Mountains and Beyond
To the Agitator
Santa Fe, N.M., May 10, 1880 – We left Elmira on the morning of the 4th for Colorado and New Mexico by way of Cincinnati, St. Louis and Kansas City. On our arrival at St. Louis the next evening, we found the gardens up, the weather extremely warm and the crops as far advanced as ours in Tioga County will be by the first of July.

We reached Kansas City the morning of the 6th, and within an hour took a train for Santa Fe over the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe road. We found the crops looking very fine through Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and eastern Kansas. Winter wheat is particularly good. Cattle and sheep are looking well as far west as Larned, at which point we stopped a couple of days. Here we met a large number of our Tioga county people – among the number Jerry Strang, now District Attorney of Pawnee county, W.E. Edwards, formerly of Charleston, and now County Register and Recorder and land agent, Prof. M.D. Bailey, from Mansfield, now teaching the High School at Larned, and N.D. Krusen, who is company with his father, Richard Krusen, of Westfield, runs the Commercial House and owns a large part of Larned.

On Saturday at 3 p.m. we took the train for the mountains. After leaving Larned and Garfield we found the country very much in need of rain. It has been six months at least since rain has fallen there, and unless it comes soon the crops west of Larned will be nearly a failure. Colorado is suffering from the drought even more than Kansas. Cattle and sheep look thin until we approach the foot hills close up to the Rocky Mountains, which we begin to climb at Trinidad.

After winding up the mountain for a distance of ten miles by way of the Rattoon pass we strike the tunnel, which is 2,268 yards long and cost $3 per yard to excavate,
. At the mouth of the tunnel a vein of coal ten feet thick is found, and large amounts are being mined for a distance of 20 miles on the east side of the mountain. It is of a better quality than out Tioga county coal, but not equal to anthracite, we believe the mountains at this point are full of coal.

At the summit, while in the tunnel, we crossed into New Mexico, and then gradually descended until we reached Santa Fe. After crossing the mountains we found the cattle and sheep were looking much better than in Colorado, but no better than in Kansas. While coming down the mountain we saw herds of goats kept by the Mexicans for their milk and meat. Their flesh is said to be as good as venison or mutton. Some herds number as high as 500 heads. We also saw numbers of prairie wolves, antelopes and thousands of ‘prairie dogs.’ These last pleased by 13-year-old boy very much. They look like little puppies two to four weeks old, and bark like them. We hoped to see some buffaloes, but did not. In a few years they will be exterminated on this continent. We saw two droves of wild horses. But they are nearly gone, as well as the buffalo.

We reached Santa Fe this morning. It is a grand old town, said to be the oldest in the United States. I shall remain here to rest a few days, and then take in some of the mining sections and cattle ranches of New Mexico. It I have time, I may write you more fully of this Old Spanish and Indian city after looking it over.
--E.R. Backer.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 20 February 2011
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice