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First Across The Continent

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An Excerpt:  "The weather rapidly grew so warm, although this was early in April, that the men worked half-naked during the day; and they were very much annoyed by clouds of
mosquitoes. They found that the hillsides and even the banks of the rivers and
sand-bars were covered with "a white substance, which appears in considerable
quantities on the surface of the earth, and tastes like a mixture of common salt
with Glauber's salts." "Many of the streams," the journal adds, "are so strongly
impregnated with this substance that the water has an unpleasant taste and a
purgative effect." This is nothing more than the so-called alkali which has
since become known all over the farthest West. It abounds in the regions west of
Salt Lake Valley, whitening vast areas like snow and poisoning the waters so
that the traveller often sees the margins of the brown pools lined with
skeletons and bodies of small animals whose thirst had led them to drink the
deadly fluid. Men and animals stiffer from smaller doses of this stuff, which is
largely a sulphate of soda, and even in small quantities is harmful to the
Here, on the twelfth of April, they were able to determine the exact course of
the Little Missouri, a stream about which almost nothing was then known. Near
here, too, they found the source of the Mouse River, only a few miles from the
Missouri. The river, bending to the north and then making many eccentric curves,
finally empties into Lake Winnipeg, and so passes into the great chain of
northern lakes in British America. At this point the explorers saw great flocks
of the wild Canada goose. The journal says:-"


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