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MORNING AFTER THE BALL-THE EXCURSION TRAIN-ALL ON BOARD -ITS PROGRESS WESTWARD THE GREAT PLATTE VALLEYSTATIONS ON THE ROAD-ARRIVAL AT COLUMBUS--CAMPING OUT ON THE PLAINS-INDIAN WAR-DANCE-MORNING SERENADETOWN OF COLUMBUS-SHAM INDIAN FIGHT-PRESENTS TO THE INDIANS-CONTRAST BETWEEN CIVILIZED AND SAVAGE LIFE
- TRAIN STILL GOING WESTWARD-WAY-STATIONS ON THE ROADARRIVAL AT CAMP NO. 2-MILITARY ENCAMPMENT-ANOTHER NIGHT IN CAMP-MORNING EXERCISES-DEPARTURE OF THE ELKHORNS-MORNING
OF TRACK FOUND AT LAST-BUFFALO AND ANTELOPE HUNTERS
OMAHA, NEBRASKA, Nov. 5, 1866.
MORNING AFTER THE BALL.
The elegant entertainment given by the citizens of Nebraska and Omaha to the excursionists the previous evening, did not prevent them from being astir at a reasonably early hour on Tuesday morning, October 23. Nearly all the gentlemen interested or curious in such matters, visited the extensive depots and machine shops of the Union Pacific Railroad, and expressed their astonishment and delight at the magnitude and adaptation of the works, the construction of which had only been commenced within a year from the present time.
It was a source of very general regret, that Mr. Samuel B. Reed, the efficient General Superintendent of the Road, and Engineer in Charge of Construction, was prevented, by severe illness, from showing any attention to the excursionists at Omaha, and also from accompanying them over the road. His place, however, was admirably filled by Mr. Webster Snyder, his principal assistant, aided by Mr. G. W. Frost, Major L. S. Bent, General Casement, Mr. A. A. Bean, Mr. Congdon, Mr. Gambol, and the other heads of departments.
The Chief Engineer, Gen. G. M. Dodge, who had returned from the mountains during the previous week, rendered every assistance in his power; and the Consulting Engineer, by his timely presence, was enabled to relieve the others from much, if not all the heavy standing around.
THE EXCURSION TRAIN.
The excursion train consisted of nine cars drawn by two of the Company's powerful locomotives. The magnificent Directors' car, constructed by the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad Company for this road, was placed in the rear, and devoted to members of Congress, and other distinguished guests, who felt desirous of making a critical examination of the road and adjacent country, which they now visited for the first, and possibly the last time.
The next car forward, was the celebrated Government, or Lincoln car, the private property of Mr. Durant, and was therefore devoted principally to his own personal friends and their families.
In front of this, were four fine passenger coaches, put up at the Company's car-shops at Omaha. These were
devoted to the excursionists generally. One of which, however, was occupied almost exclusively by the Elkhorn Club.
Next in order, came the mess, or cooking car, constructed also at the Fort Wayne shops, and designed as a tender, or companion to the Directors' car. In front of this was a mail, or express car, conveniently fitted up as a refreshment saloon. And in front of all, or next to the engine, was the baggage and supply car. The engines were profusely decked with flags, and appropriate mottoes; and the whole outfit presented a most imposing appearance, as it left the Missouri Valley, and steamed away towards the Rocky Mountains.
ALL ON BOARD.
It had been announced by Mr. Durant that the excursion train would start westward at ten in the morning. But the difficulty and delay attending the gathering together of the excursionists, prevented our departure till about twelve, when the entire party, enlarged by the civil and military authorities, members of Congress, etc., of the Territory, with their families, started westward in high spirits, to view, most of them for the first time, the great, and almost uninhabited Platte Valley, extending, as it does, in an almost direct westerly course from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains, a distance of six hundred miles.
The train had been supplied by Mr. Hoxie with every comfort and even luxury that the heart could wish; and soon after starting, the guests were invited to partake of an excellent lunch, served through the cars by the attentive waiters.
THE GREAT PLATTE VALLEY,
The fine valleys of Mud Creek, and the Papillon, were passed successively, and at about two P. M., the Great Platte Valley opened to the view, and elicited an exclamation of wonder and admiration from all who now saw it for the first time.
The train—which had been ordered by Mr. Durant to proceed at a slow rate of speed, so that the excursionists could obtain a satisfactory view, not only of the surrounding beautiful country, but of the road and structures, as they passed-after halting at the fine bridge structures over the Papillon and Elkhorn Rivers, stopped a short time at the Fremont and North Bend stations, in order to give the guests an opportunity of examining the commodious depot buildings, water stations, etc., which had been constructed by the Company at intervals of fifteen or twenty miles along the line.
ARRIVAL AT COLUMBUS.
The train finally reached Columbus, the proposed end of the first day's journey, a little after night-fall, and here a new surprise awaited the party.
The train was halted immediately in front of a brilliantly illuminated encampment, which covered several acres of beautiful ground situated a few rods northward of the Columbus station buildings, and so arranged as to afford comfortable accommodations for all who wished to leave the cars and enjoy the novelty of a night's sleep in
Soon after our arrival, supper was announced by the ubiquitous Hoxie, and the party found themselves comfortably seated in a large tent, and urged to partake of
substantials and luxuries, which might well have vied with those found upon the tables of our Eastern hotels.
The irrepressible Elkhorns were seen and heard everywhere, adding life and exhilaration to the scene; and thus an hour or two were passed in social intercourse until the evening's entertainment was announced.
This entertainment consisted of a war-dance, at a short distance from the encampment, executed by a large delegation of Pawnee braves, under the immediate supervision of that celebrated Indianist, Professor Taylor, who had most kindly volunteered his valuable services for the occasion; and of all the wild and hideous yells, grotesque shapes and contortions that have ever been witnessed by a civilized assemblage in the night-time upon the plains this was most certainly the climax. The light of the moon, aided slightly by that of a dim camp fire, was barely sufficient to enable the spectators to distinguish the features and grotesque costumes of the savage performers; and the congregation of lady and gentlemen spectators were only too glad to know that the Indians were entirely friendly, and catering only for the amusement of the company, instead of being enemies, dancing and gloating over their scalpless bodies. This amusement being ended, the waning moon and camp fires admonished the excursionists that the hour for retirement and rest had arrived.
Each individual, family, and party, found comfortable tents allotted to them, well stored with soft hay mattresses, buffalo robes, and blankets. Without the least disorder or confusion, therefore, all were soon dreaming of the wondrous novelty of the situation; and nothing but