1890 Letters

November 30, 1890 letter to Ethan Keith from Henry Keith

November 30, 1890

To: Ethan Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Henry Keith, Portland, OR

Henry is describing the scenery and towns he passes through during his runs as a Pullman Conductor on the railroad.

Nov 30th 1890

Dear Brother

I am not sure wheather I wrote you the last or not however I will write agan as I have time and material[1] furnished. I do not know as I can interest you but will give you a little description of this part of the Pacific Coast. Portland is situated 768 miles from Oakland. That is the milage I have to give as traveled over on my trip from Oakland here, 426 miles Pacific System 342 miles Oregon and California. We leave Oakland Pier at 930 PM arriving at Redding California the following morning at 715. After leaving Redding the grand cenery begins by going up the Canion of the Sacramento River and it is indeed very grand. Passing up the Canion we can see the grand old peak of Mt Shasta looming up in the distance with her snowy mantle seemingly only about 9 miles away however we ride at the rate of 25 miles pr hour (as they are not allowed to run any faster at this season) until 1145 when we reach Sissons where we take dinner. Then we are at the nearest point on the rout to Shasta and yet she is 12 miles to the foot or timber line. Dinner over the bell rings and on we go passing the noble mountain at about 1 PM. We then look back to see her which we can until far up in the Siskiou mountains away beyond the Shasta Valley which we have just passed throug ariving at the sumit of the Siskious at 425 which is at “[2] station 4130 above Oakland between 8 and 9 hundred feet above Shasta Valley. Leaving the sumit we descend down in to the picturesque valley of the Rogue River. By the way we crossed the state line into this state before we got out of Shasta Valley. Rogue River Valley is a very rich fertile valley settled and dotted with fine farms and buildings, land worth from 75 to 150 dollars pr acre. Six oclock finds us at the lovely village of Ashland where we take supper. Leaving Ashland we continue on down the valley passing fine farms beautiful villages until about nine oclock. We leave Rougue River Valley and go into what is known as Cow Creek Canion a narrow canion through which the road winds and reawinds until after midnight. Leaving that we drop down (as it were) into the grandest of the grandest Willemette Valley which we do not leave for the City of Portland is right here in the lovely valley that it is 12 miles from the river of all rivers the Columbia. From Portland Heights you have a grand view of Mt Hood, Mt Hellen’s and Mt Ranier and a splendid view of the Willemett as well as down. I like Oregon very much. I think it is a fine country. I was in Vancover a few weeks ago and I think Washington is the comming state[3] both for lumber and soil. No southern California compared with it according to my idea. I allude to the San Jouaquin Valley and the Los Angeles Country. Remember I am not encluding the country in and around Oakland for that is realy the only place to live (providing you are a Pullman Conductor or a rich man) here. Next to Oakland comes Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane Falls. This is the place for a man with a little money.

I wrote to Lois[4] some time ago. We are all well and I am in the best of health. The accident we had here on our road at or near Salem I missed by two trains.

Your Brother



[1] The letter was written on stationery from The Portland hotel in Portland, Oregon

[2] The ditto mark was written underneath the words “the Siskious” on the line above

[3] Washington didn’t become a state until November 11, 1889

[4] His sister, and Ethan’s half-sister, Lois (Keith) Clark Skinner

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