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beautiful country to the notice of agriculturists, and would be settled in a very short time.
The advantages which this route possessos over others adapt it in a preeminent degree to the construction of a railroad. For the reasons I have mentioned, and from all the examination and consideration which I have been able to give the subject, I cannot resist the strength of ny own convictions that any experienced and impartial engineer, after a thorough and careful reconnoisance of all the different routes, would at once give this the preference over any other.
Froin Dona Ana or El Paso to near where we crossed Red rivera distance of 700 miles—there are probably as few difficulties to encounter as upon any other road that can be found in our country. Throughout this entire distance it would not be necessary to make a single tunnel, or to use a stationary engine. There would be but few heavy excavations or embankments; and for a great portion of the distance the surface of the earth is so perfectly firm and smooth, that it would appear to have been designed by the Great Architect of the Universe for a railroad, and adapted and fitted by nature's handiwork for the reception of the superstructure. There is an abundance of building stone, and an inexhaustible amount of mezquite timber, which, for its durability, is admirably adapted for use as sleepers, and for fuel.
From Red river it could be carried to Fort Smith without difficulty, Or to any other point that might be selected. This, united with a railroad from the Rio Grande to the San Diego, would give us a great national highway across our continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in a very direct line, and would enable the traveller to pass safely and comfortably over a distance in a week which before required four months of toil, hardship, and danger. It would afford our government a cheap and rapid transit for troops and munitions of war, and would enable us to communicate with our far-distant territories in a few hours.
These considerations, in connexion with the vast and inca'culable commercial benefits that the whole çivilized world would receive, would render it a monument to the genius, enterprise, and philanthropy of the American people.
In view of the extensive region of fertile soil, embracing the valley of the Arkansas, and the entire state of Texas, we say to our south-western friends, persevere in your efforts :-possessing an agreeable and healthful climate, a generous soil, and exhaustless deposits of mineral wealth-you only require a communication, by railway, to the commercial metropolis of the West, to make yours, in many respects, the most desirable part of the whole region west of the Mississippi.
• ARTICLE IV.
Sales of Real Estate in St. Louis.
The extensive sales of unimproved real estate, in the immediate vicinity of St. Louis, during the present year, has led many to believe that a spirit of speculation prevails throughout our entire community, and that an enormous debt has been created on that sccount. Believing that such opinions are calculated to raise the price, and check the free circulation of money at home, and also impair credit abroad, we have inquired into the facts, for the purpose of placing this subject in its true light before the public. And we are gratified to find, that the operations in real estate, up to the present time have not, in our opinion, been so extensive as to affect in any considerable degree the pecuniary condition of the community.
We are assured that the sales of improved property have been quite limited in amount, and, probably, fall below an average of the last four or five years.
It is true that the operations outside of the city limits have been extensive, and far exceed the demand for immediate use, but the debt Created on that account is divided amongst a large number of individuals; the most of whom, as it is understood, have purchased with a view to future improvement. One-fourth of the purchase money on the sale of real estate is usually paid in hand, and the balance in three annual instalments. The price of building lots outside of the city generally ranges from $200 to $300, and it is reasonable to conclude that the most of those who have purchased but a single Lot will be able to meet their payments as they fall due.
We are informed that a large portion of the out lots, sold this year, have been purchased by Germans, a class of citizens who are rarely mistaken in their ability to meet their contracts. But few, if any, of our merchants are known to have dealt at all in real estate, except for the purpose of immediate occupation or improvement.
From inquiries, made of the most extensive real estate agents in the city, we are authorised to state, that the sales of real estate under the denomination of City or Building lots, from the first of January of this year, up to the present time, do not exceed two million five hundred thousand dollars. And besides deducting the cash payment from this sum, to arrive at the amount of indebtedness created, we should deduct at least $350,000, as the amount purchased by the heirs and representatives of A. Stoddard, deceased, whose purchases are to be regarded chiefly in the light of a partition. Now if we add to this the sum of $525, 000, supposed to have been paid in cash, and deduct these two amounts from $2,500,000 gross sales, the entire indebtedness, created by the purchase of city lots, during the present year, will be found to be $1,625,000, to fall due by instalments extending through a period of six years. And although this sum may appear large to some minds, yet when we consider all the circumstances which attend it, we are persuaded, that, unless some unusual calamity shall befall the city, it will be paid without producing any material degree of embarrassment.
We had ourselves greatly overrated the sales of real estate made here during the current year, until inquired into the subject.
The Stoddard estate having sold for over $700,000, the people began to make extravagant estimates in respect to other transactions until we have heard of some who swelled the amount to $20,000,000. Such extravagant estimates are well calculated to make money lenders extravagant in their demands and produce a depressing influence upon every department of business.
None more than we deprecate a spirit of speculation in real estate. View it in whatsoever light we may, we trace evil consequences resulting from it, and when it prevails throughout a community, it never fails to overwhelm it with ruin for a season. But we are happy in the knowledge that no such spirit prevails in our city at present. It is true that there are a few enterprising individuals who deal in real estate and doubtless realize a profit from their operations, but in general the great body of our citizens look to the well earned profits of their legitimate business, rather than to speculations.
The pecuniary embarrassment resulting chiefly from excessive importations of foreign merchandise, during the last two years, has been felt in a greater or less degree by every class of our citizens ; yet it is believed that the condition of our manufacturers and mechanics is as prosperous as in any previous period of our history; and from recent indications we have good grounds for the belief, that the most difficult point has been passed by our merchants.
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL HISTORY.
The Prairie Dog.
The traveler on the plains meets with no object perhaps that excites a higher degree of curiosity than the Prairie Dog, and although it has been described by Gregg and others, the following account of its habits may serve as a relief to the mind, after reading the preceding articles on commerce and internal improvements.
We are permitted to extract the following Chapter from a forthcoming work, entitled “Travels in search of the Elephant, or the Wanderings of an Artist, by Alfred S. Waugh Esq.” We give the entire chapter, for although the story of the Labyrinths may seem to lead the reader somewhat too far from the subject under consideration; yet those who like an amusing story will be amply compensated for the digression.
CHAPTER-XXIII, VOLUME II.
One morning whilst rambling over this valley, I was led to make some researches among the dog towns in the neighborhood. I had made many attempts to get some of their inhabitants into my possession, but without the slightest success. Shooting seemed to be of no use, for they were always close to their houses, and, whether killed or wounded, they invariably disappeared the moment I fired at them, and some way or other, none of them gave me a chance in their open streets. Weary with my fruitless efforts, it was at once determined to enter upon the business of exploration among their subterranean abodes, and if possible, capture them in their own homes. Accordingly I set our little friend Mickey Whelan, who, by the by, was returning to the United States on his own hook, as the Kentuckians say, and an other fellow traveller to work with pick-axe and spade, in order to come at a correct knowledge of the domestic manners of those strange little animals. But before we began our excavations, it was proposed to try the experiment of inundating their houses, and by so doing, drive them out into the open air where we hoped to be able to catch them as they would come forth. One barrel after an other of water had been hauled from the creek and poured into the entrances, but no sooner did we empty each vessel than the water disappeared, without producing the slightest effect whatever. Again and again did we repeat the experiment, yet not a solitary dog raised his nose above the ground. At last coming to the conclusion, that the extreme droughtiness of the earth militated against our operations, it was determined, as we could not drown them out, we would dig them up nolens volens. Mickey freely lent himself to the task, and displayed in all his movements a perfect acquaintance with the instrument he was using. He worked with as much energy and devotion as if life and death depended upon his individual exertions ; nor was his co-laborer behind him in the pursuit of knowledge. It would have rejoiced the heart of the great Belzoni himself, to have seen the labors of those men. First they made a descent by a perpendicular opening to the depth of six or eight feet, then they ran a level to the distance of fourteen or fifteen more, and following the windings of the passages extended their researches far and wide ; the deeper and more extensive they made their way, the further they seemed to be from the attainment of their object. Still, Mickey and his comrade continued their labors without a moments cessa ion; sometimes the passage would continue straight on, then it would turn to the right and anon to the left, now it would take an upward course and again descend, but no inner chamber could be found. “Ah! thin by the powers of Moll Kelly, but ye’r kute crathers, and sure the ould boy himself could'nt find out yer parlor if he was to try, for there's no ind to yer krucked hall, bad screen to you for kontrary brutes" exclaimed Mickey as he paused for a moment to contemplate the field of his labors. “I tell you what it is, Kurnel, the only way you can get hould of thim is to earthquake thim out.” How is that I asked. “Oh, the sorr i an easier thing in life sir, all you have to do is to dig a big hole in the ground, bury a can of gun-powdher and blow thim up sky high as they do the rocks in the quarry, and sure if you dont git'thim alive and kicking, “praps you'l git thim dead and may be that'l do as well.” Not exactly, I replied, I am more anxious to find out how they live when at home than to capture their dead carcasses. “Ah! thin, he replied, ye'l have to travel a long way before ye come to their bed-rooms. Arrah musha! sir, did you iver hear tell of the great king of Egypt who built his palace away down in the ground in order to keep people from botherin him whiniver he wishel to be all alone by himself? Well sir, he give directions to his bricklayer to build the intrance in sich a kurus manner, that none but himself, and the queen, and the prince, could find their
into the room where he used to sit upor a great big goolden trone, smokin his pipe like a christian man, all as one. Now sir, do you see, the bricklayer or builder, or whativer ye plase to call him, was a mighty cunnin man in all sorts of schaming (scheming) and by the same token he was a great magicianer likewise also, who could trick owld Nick and give him odds into the bargain. Well, the same betoken, he put on his considerin cap, lit his pipe and made himself a tumbler of hot whiskey punch, and sot down over his big book, to invint a puzzle that would'nt be found out by morthal man-barrin he was let into the sayeret, so he sot up all night smokin his dudgheen to keep his nose warm-for it was a could night-and drinkin the hot consolation before him from time to time, just to keep the wind out of his stomack—for he was subject to the kolic, and more betoken the punch used to help him mightily to a clear way of thinkin wheniver he got bothered by too much study. So ye see sir, after spending the whole blessed night in the way I tell ye of, he goes to the king in the mornin, “God save yer majesty” says he to the king,