Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family, May 21, 1864

In this letter from May 21, 1864, Samuel Reed writes to his wife and family describing his travel from Atchison, Kansas to Salt Lake City. He spent thirteen days and nights on the stage coach with nine other passengers and describes the weather and terrain he encountered.

Last evening about five o'clock we arrived here in this city of the saints, tired and dirty after a thirteen days and nights ride in stage. I started from Atchison, Saturday the 7th, at five o'clock p.m., with nine passengers in the stage coach; no sleep Saturday night. Sunday's ride was over the hills of Kansas, no timber in sight except on water courses and it was sparsely settled. Sunday night a severe storm of wind and rain, so severe that at 12 o'clock the driver was compelled to lay up until daylight. We though ourselves fortunate in getting permission to sleep the balance of the night in the stable on the hay.

Monday morning we resumed our winding way westward over the dreary desolate hills of southern Nebraska with only here and there a solitary cabin, except the stage stations, which are built by the Overland stage company. The day was stormy and the roads muddy and at 2 o'clock in the night we were all glad to hear the driver say he could not go any further. We succeeded in getting a small space on the ranchman's floor on which we slept until daylight, when we resumed our journey and reached the station (five miles) at 10 A.M. and got breakfast after which we traveled slowly over or through the muddy roads and at daylight Wednesday we reached Fort Kearney, on the Platte River, distance from Atchison 253 miles and from Omaha 200 miles, all nearly played out. One lady in the party appears to stand the journey as well as the best of us.

Thursday we reach Cottonwood Springs, a watering place in the valley. Friday we are all sick from drinking alkali water. Saturday we reach Lathum the station where the Denver and Pikes Peak passengers leave. Only Mr. Mathewson and myself left to go on west so we had plenty of room. Sunday morning we entered the first gorge of the Rocky Mountains. All day we traversed the first chain of the mountains and then entered what was known as the Laramie Plains. Monday we crossed the plains and Tuesday we were on the summit of the second chain of mountains which were crossed at what was called Bridger's Pass.

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from Samuel B. Reed to Wife and Family
  • Citation: Nebraska State Historical Society, Samuel Reed Papers (Union Pacific Railroad Collection), MS 3761, Unit 1, Subgroup 14, Series 1, Box 2, Letters to Wife and Family
  • Date: May 21, 1864