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Great Falls tribune. [volume] (Great Falls, Mont.) 1885-1890, December 04, 1886, Image 1

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86075238/1886-12-04/ed-1/seq-1/

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It may not be generally known how the
little falls of about ten feet, between the
Giant Spring and Rainbow Falls came to be
named. If even this water power was not
in such high-toned company it would be
considered enough in itself, to warrant the
future of a town. But we are so bouti
fully supplied with water falls and cata
racts that we hardly appreciate one of less
pretension than Black Eagle. That man
Colter, for whom "Colter's Falls" are nam
ed had a wonderful career in the wild
we t. lie was with the Lewis and Clarke
expedition and afterwards suddenly turn
ed up with the party of hardy fur-traders
sent out by John J. Astor. In Irving's "As
toria" we find an interesting account of
Colter's adventures.
W hen he fell in with the Astor outfit he
had just made one of those vast internal
voyages so characteristic of this fearless
class of men. He had come from the head
waters os the Missouri to St. Louis, a dis
tance of 300 miles, in thirty days. With
the hardihood of a regular trapper, Colter
had cast himself loose from the party of
Lewis and Clarke in the wilderness. He
finally fell in with another trapper, like
himself, named Potts and they agreed to
keel) together. One night they had set
their traps on a branch of the Missouri
called Jefferson Fork. Early next
morning they ascended the river
in a canoe to examine their traps.
The banks on each side were high and
perpendicular, and cast a shade over the
stream. As they were softly paddling
along, they heard the tramping of many
feet upon the banks. Colter immediately
gave the alarm "Indians!" and was for in
stant retreat. His companion scoffed at
the idea and said he wasn't afraid of buf
faloes. They had not gone much further
when frightful whoops and yells burst
forth from each side of the river, and
several hundred Indians appeared on
either bank and signalled the unfortunate
trappers to come on shore. They were
obliged to comply. Before they could
alight from their canoe, a savage seized
the rifle belonging to Potts. Colter sprang
on shore, wrested the weapon from the
hands of the Indian, and restored it to his
companion, who was still in the canoe,
and at once pushed out into the stream.
There was the sharp twang of a bow and
Potts cried out that he was wounded. Col
ter urged him to come on shore and sub
mit, as his only chance for life; but the
other knew there was no prospect for!
mercy and therefor determined to die
game. Leveling his rifle, he shot one of
the savages dead on the spot. The next ]
moment he fell himself, pierced 'with in
numerable arrows. The savages next
turned their attention to Colter. The lat
ter, who unde rstood their language over
heard them consulting as to the best
method of despatching him, so as to de
rive the greatest amusement out of his
death. Some were for setting him as a
target upon which to try their skill. Fin
ally, the chief of the tribe seized Col
ter by the shoulder and demanded if he
could run fast. lie was then lead by the
chief into the prairie about 400 yards in
advance of the savages and then after
being stripped naked was turned loose to
save himself if he could. A horrible war
whoop was the warning to him that the
whole pack of blood hounds were after
him. Colter didn't run. He flew. He
had six miles of prairie to traverse before
he could reach the Jefferson Fork.
Hie would have sold out his chances for
life very cheap about that time. Think of
it; several hundred fiends after him at full
cry. The plain abounded with prickly
pear which terribly wounded his naked
feet. He did not even dare to look around
for fear of losing a step. When he had
bounded over about half the distance
across the plain the sound of pursuit grew
fainter and he ventured to turn his head.
The main body of his pursuers were far
behind, but several of the fastest runners
were scattered in the advance, One fleet
footed warrior armed with a spear was
not more than a hundred yards behind
him. Inspired with new hope, Colter re
doubled his exertions to such an extent'
that blood gushed from his mouth and
nostrils and streamed down his breast.
A glance behind discovered the warrior
within twenty yards of him ready to
launch his spear. Stopping short he
turned round and spread, out his arms.
The savage, confounded by this sudden
action, attempted to stop and hurl his
spear, but fell in the very act. His spear
stuck in the ground, and the shaft broke
in. his hand. Colter plucked up the point
* Those falls are oneof the series and located
about four miles below town.
ed part, pinned the savage to the earth,
and continued his flight. The other In
dians stopped to howl over their slain
companion and Colter made for the river
and plunged in. He swam to a neighbor
ing island, against the upper end of which
the driftwood had lodged in such quan
tities as to form a natural raft. Under
this he dived and swam,
below water until he succeeded in getting
a breathing place between the floating
trunks of trees, whose branches and bushes
formed a covert several feet above the lev
el of the water. But the Indians were
still after him. They too, reached the
raft. The heart of Colter almost died
within him as he saw them, through
the chinks of his concealmhnent, passing
and repassing, and seeking for him in all
directions. They finally gave him up for
drowned. As soon as it was dark Celter
fearing that the vengeful red men would
set the raft on fire, dived under the raft
and swam silently down stream out of their
reach. By day break he had
gained sufficient distance to relieve
him from the terrors of his savage foes.
But he was naked and alone in the midst
of an unbounded wilderness, even should
he elude his pursuers, days must elapse
before he could reach any settlement, du
ring which time he musttraverse immense
prairies destitute of shade, his unprotect
body exposed to the burning heat of the
sun by day, and the dews and chills of the
night season and his feet pierced by the
thorns of the prickly pear. Though he
might see game in abundance around him
he had no means of killing any for his
sustenance and must depend for food up
on the roots of the earth. But he pressed
bravely on in defiance of these difficulties,
and after braving dangers and hardships
enough to break down any spirit but that
of a western pioneer, arrived safe at a soli
tary post on a branch of the Yellowstone.
The author of "Astoria" adds "Such is a
sample of the rugged experience which
Colter had to relate of savage life, yet
with all these perils and terrors fresh in
recollection, he could not see the Astor
expedition on their way to those regions
of danger and adventure, without feeling
a vehement impulse to join them. A
western tral)per is like a sailor; past haz
ards only stimulate him to further risks.
The vast prairie is to the one what the
ocean is to the other, a boundless field of
enterprise and exploit. However he m:ay
have suffered in his last cruise, he is al
ways ready to join a new expedition;
and the more adventurous its nature, the
more attractive it is to his vagrant spirit.
Nothing seems to have kept Colter from
continuing with the party to the shores of
the Pacific but the circumstance of his
having recently married. All one day he
kept with them balancing in his mind the
charms of his bride against those of the
Rocky mountains; the former, however,
prevailed, and after a march of several
miles, he took a reluctant leave of the
travellers, and then turned his face home
it was such men as Coiter who, ignor
ing danger and bearing hardships and suf
fering with Socratic indifference, made
1 way for civilization and progress in this
r boundless western country.
It is but even justice that the name of
- this adventurous hero should be kept from
oblivion by the sparkling cataract that
bears his name.
How vagurly could he have forseen the
development of this section of the country
three-quarters of a century after his time.
And now the great work has just begun.
Our possibilities are infinite; the prospect
before us grand, inspiring, ennobling.
A Case of Grit.
A gentleman from the North brings in a
report of Paul -Hanly, a freighter, whose
leg was broken while he was on the road
between Broadwater's Landing and As
sinaboine. He was alone when the acci
dent occurred and was unable to get out
from under the heavy wagon, except by
cutting his way out with a knife. After
thus extricating himself he mounted one
of the horses and rode a distance of eight
miles. He lay at a ranch for several days
until medical aid arrived from Assinaboine,
then brought to Benton, one hundred and
fifty miles. He must have had wonder
ful endurance and grit to have stood this
terrible ordeal.
Next Tuesday evening at the school
house an entertainment will be given for
the benefit of the organ fund. The pro
gramme will be an interesting 'one, con
sisting of vocal and instrumental music
and recitations. .This is for a worthy ob
.ject and should be patronized by all our
good citizens.
They were obliged to improvise some
rude wagons to carry their boats around
the series of falls. The Crooked Falls
were so named by them because of their
irregularity. They report the Rainbow
Falls as most beautiful "As the water pre
cipitates itself in an even, uninterrupted
sheet over the shelving rock, to a perpen
dicular depth of fifty feet, whence dash
ing against the rocky bottom it rushes
rapidly down, leaving behind it a spray of
the purest foam across the river. The
scene which it presented was indeed, sing
ularly beautiful, since without any of the
wild, irregular sublimity of the lower falls,
it combined all the regular elegancies
which the fancy of a painter would select
to form a beautiful waterfall." Scarcely
had their eyes been regaled with this
charming prospect when, at a distance of
about half a mile Capt. Lewis observed
another of a similar kind, stretching across
the whole river for a quarter of a mile.
This they named Colter's Falls. In any
other neighborhood, as the report says, this
would have been an object of great mag
nificence, but after what they had just
seen it became of secondary interest. Their
next pleasant surprise was the Black
Eagle falls, which they so named because
they found in a cotton-wood tree, on the
little island just below the falls, an eagle's
nest. This solitary inhabitant of the island
held undisputed sway, for neither man
nor beast had ever, molested the place.
Cap't Lewis also refers to the rapids
where the Cataract mill is now located
and to the Sun river, which is put down
on his map as "Medicine River."
He grows enthusiastic over the beautiful
stretch of country lying along the Sun
river and the broad plains which lie be
tween what is now the town of Great
Falls, and the Highwood. As Cap't. Lewis
was proceeding along in the vicinity of
the confluence of the Missouri and Sun
rivers, he met a herd of at least a thousand
buffaloes, and being desirous of providing
supplies, shot one of them. The ani
mal immediately began to bleed, and
Captain Lewis, who had forgotten to re
load his rifle, was intently watching to see
him fall, when he beheld a large grizzly
bear, who was stealing upon him unper
ceived, and was ;already within twenty
steps. In the first moment of surprise he
lifted his rifle; but remembering, instantly
that it was not charged, and that he had
not time to reload, he felt that there was
no safety but in flight. It was in the open
level plain, not a bush nor a tree within
three hundred yards, the bank of the
river sloping and not more than three feet
high, so that there was no possible place
of concealment. Cap't. Lewis therefore
thought of retreating in a quick walk, as
fast as the bear advanced; towards
the nearest tree, but as soon as he turned
the bear ran with open mouth, and with
full speed upon him. Capt. Lewis ran
about eighty yards, but finding that the
animal gained on him fast, it flashed on
his mind that by getting into the water to
such a depth that the*bear would be oblig
ed to attack him swimming, there was still
some chance of his life. He therefore
turned short plunged into the river about
waist deep, and facing about presented the
point of his espontoon. The bear arrived
at the water's edge within twenty feet of
him, but as soon tas he put himself in this
position of defense, the bear seemed frigh
tened, and wheeling about, retreated with
as much haste as he had pursued.. Very
glad to be released from this danger, Cap
tain Lewis returned to shore, and observ
ed him run with great speed, sometimes
looking back, as though he expected to be
pursued, until he reached the woods. He
could not conceive the cause of the sudden
alarm of the bear, bdtt congratulated him
self on his escape when he saw his own
track torn to pieces by the furious animal,
and learnt from the 'adventure never to
suffer his rifle to be for a moment, unload
ed. He now resumed his progress in the
direction which the bear had taken to
wards the western river the "Medicine and
found it a handsome stream about two
hundred yards wide, apparently deep,
with a gentle current, its waters clear, and
its banks which were formed principally,
of dark brown or blueelay, aboutthe same
height as those of the Missouri, that is,
from three to five feet, He then went on,
"but as f the beasts of the field had con
spired against him" he encountered a pan
ther whicn he: d peatched with
his . rifle befoie the feline
monster had time :.to attack him. t
In a few moments three immense buffalo
bulls which were feeinog with a large I
herd ata distance of hbi f a mile,left their e
companions and ran at full speed towards
him. When they came within a hundred
yards, they stopped, looked at him for
some time, then retreated as they came.
IIe now pursued his route in the dark re
flecting upon the thrilling adventures of
the day which crowded on his 'mind so
rapidly, that he almost imagined himself
in an enchanted land. But the cruel prick
ly pear thorns disabused his mind of that
sentiment. He at last reached the party,
who had been very anxious for his safety,
and who had already decided on the route
which each should take in the morning, to
search for him. Being much fatigued he
dropped down under a tree to sleep. On
awakening in the morning he found a
large rattle snake coiled on the trunk of
the tree under which he had been. sleep
ing and within a few feet of his head.
Capt. Lewis indeed, led a charmed
life. It was left to him after
passing through hair-breadth escapes for
years to take his own life, while
surrounded by all the luxuries of civilized
life. They named the cluster of islands
just above town. The "White Bear islands"
in commemoration of the captain's narrow
escape and because of a similar adven
ture which befell another member of the
party. He was sent a short distance from
the camp, to bring home some meat,
when he was attacked by a "White" bear
and closely pursued within forty paces of
the camp, and narrowly escaped being
caught. He however, adopted the tactics
of his superior and plunged into the
water. The report refers to these bears as
"white"and as"brown," but there is no
doubt, from the description of the animals,
that they were grizzly bears.
Railroad Rumblings.
Work upon this end of the Montana
Central railroad has been progressing
steadily for the past two months, and
graders to the number of about two hun
dred and fifty are now strung along the
line for a distance of six miles above town.
This force will be added to, we understand,
and the work pushed forward without
intermission until the bed is ready to re
ceive the ties.
The work is comparatively light-most
ly ei rth work-l ut still it will be some
time yet before it is completed. The road
will cross Sun river a short distance above
the mouth, and the Missouri, likely, at the
bridge site, at the head of Central avenue.
Sun river will be a comparatively easy
stream to bridge, at this point, the ap
proaches being excellent, and the water
Active operations are manifest at other
a points. The Independent says it is defi
e nitely known that the Montana Central
has a corps of engineers operating in the
vicinity of Wickes. President Broad
water's replies to the reporter on the sub
ject were entirely of a know-nothing char
acter, but it may be set down as a fact that
s an engineering party of the road is now
I surveying in the neighborhood of Wickes,
probably a branch to the main line which
is to run from Helena to Butte. It is
I stated upon pretty good authority that the
grading from Helena to Butte will be com
pleted by the 1st of October next year and
that the iron will be laid by December
1st. The Manitoba extension westward
now has graders working up to the neigh
borhood of Fort Buford. There are some
heavy cuts and fills to be made in that
vicinity, and the road will not be com
pleted up to the river before April 1st,
next season. The Montana Central grade
to Great Falls is now practically complete,
and on the northern extension everything
will be in readiness for active operations
as early in'the spring as possible.
A Novel and Successful Break for
TRIBUNE readers will remember the
capture of five of the Indians which ran
ofi a band of horses from the Judith valley
and their imprisonment in the guard-house
at Fort Shaw, awaiting transfer to Fergus
county, where they were to be tried before
the civil authorities. They had feasted
upon good government grub for some
time and were sleek and fat, but not con
tented. They sighed for liberty and the
cold comfortsof their canvass-lined tepees,
their wives, sweethearts and pappooses,
and determined to make a bold dash for
their reservation. Wednesday evening
was the time appointed, and accordingly,
when their stalwart and heavily armed
guard brught them in their supper, they
quickly slipped a blanket over his head,
and before he had time to give the alarm,
had sprung across the threshold of the
open and unguarded prison door, into the
cool and starless atmosphere of liberty.
They waited not for ceremonies but das
ed into the thick underbrush which lines
Sun river tthat t point. Pursuit was im
mediately given and two of the fugitives
were captured, but the remaining three
made good their escape, a.ld no doubt by
this time are wellnup toward the Sakath
ewan. The means they adopted to effet
theirescape was novel and . finadla ndt. e-
fScts g Ieat al e po. the a iige,
eral and this quintet in particular.
Little Johnnie's father was a very pro
fane man when excited, and had on vari
ous occasions in the youngsters presence
given vent to rather emphatic expressions;
these the child picked up and repeated`
much to the*sorrow and annoyance of his
mother. It was the day before Christmas.
Johnny had been loud in his demands for
a drum, and during a little streak of peve
ishness had expressed himself in certain
swear words learned from his paternal
parent. His good mother reproved him,
telling him that he must pray to be made
a good boy, assuring him that his prayer
would be answered.
That night at bed time he knelt at the
bed side and repeated his little "Now I
lay me down to sleep" adding to each and
every line his paramount desire "I want a
drum." The "Amen" and the drum
amendment added thereto had been re
peated. When his mother in the next
room with the coveted' drum and other
gifts unwittingly let fall the sheep skin
covered cylinder with so loud a noise that
the sound reached Johnnie's ears. The
youngster jumped toward the door, ex
claiming as he went "Wonder, where in
h--l's that drum."
Tom IIowder had been a sport, but cer
tain very questionable practices had gain
ed for him the enumity of the sporting fra
ternity : So Tom cast about him for a
means of livlihood and found it in the
police court. For a while as a shyster at
torney Tom did pretty well, but upon ap
pealing one of his cases to the county
court was disbarred by the judge on the
very proper grounds that the valiant Tom
had never been admitted to practice.
Being wholly ignorant of law, and becom
ing the butt of ridicule around the court
house, he in disgust retired from the legal
profession. A newly settled part of the
country was attracting to it men ready and
willing to try their fortunes afresh and
among the rest went our hero. On the
journey thither Tom made the acquaint
ance of a young man who had just receiv
ed his sheepskin from a medical college.
From the youthful I. D. he gained or
rather imagined he had gained a great
fund of information upon diseases and
their cures, heard with intense interest his
fellow traveler's accounts of surgical op
erations, viewed with eager eyes the little
pocket cases of vials and ,exzunined with
delight the instruments. At one of the
stopping places on the road Tom induced
the disciple of .E-calapius to shorten the
weary hours by indulgence in a game of
draw. The ex-sport improved his oppor
tunity and before the time for resuming
their travels, was not only possessed of all
of the Medico's cash but also his little vials,
instruments and a couple of goodly sized
books. Boozy, crest fallen and stubborn
the young graduate refused to proceed
farther, but on his way rejoicing went the
plunderer with his booty. A new town
was reached, in which as yet no M. D. had
hung out his shingle. Here was his chance,
and acting upon the idea. an unpretentious
room was rented and to the door frame
was nailed a sign te ring the legend, Doc
tor Tomni Howder. It was a healthy, very
healthy locality and during the first month
no patient applied for consultation or re
lief. Much disappointed and discourag
ed he was about to abandon his newly ac
quired profession, when one day a dust
covered rider dismounted from a foam
flecked horse and enquired for the doctor.
In reply to enquiries as to what was the
matter, the man told of a sufferer upon
whom a tree had fallen. With every ap
pliance he could think of together with
his full stock of medicines and surgical in
struments off starled Tom and his conduc
tor for the woods, twelve miles away. It
was a broken leg, a compound fracture
and at firstthe pseudo practitioner was puz
zled. Looking wise and very serious he
called together the sufferers friends and
with regretful gravity informed them the
man's leg mtust come off in order to save
his life,
How the operation was ever performed
so successfully by the heartless and igno
rant rascal it would be difficult to conceive,
but though minus a leg, the man recover
ed, and this is what Howder wrote to an
Dear Jim:-I had most give up for a
bad job when a fellow came around, took
me out in the woods to a man with a leg
broke. I cut off his leg, got fifty dollars,
would a cut off his durn head for twenty
five. Yours,
At Maiden.
A gentleman just in from Maiden says
that camp shows sigps of ip Ihlmfe.
Ojperations inithe m ines artei
at once, which will give e ie to
quite a large number o ; men.

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