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[For the part of this report here omitted, see report of the Chief of Engineers for the year 1893, pp. 4393-9543.]
SEASON OF 1893.
The following is a résumé, showing the operations for the season of 1893:
In the month of April, having sufficient funds in hand for placing the roads in readiness for the traffic which commences in June, I placed a small party at work upon repair in Gardiner Canyon. At this point heavy slides from the mountain wall of the canyon come upon the road in the spring, making the cost of maintenance excessive. At this time the only portion of the system sufficiently free from snow to permit operations was at this point.
Beyond Golden Gate there was generally a depth of at least 5 feet of
About the middle of May I sent out Mr. Charles A. Hunt, United States overseer, to take local charge of the work during the season, with instructions to place repair parties upon the roads as rapidly as the disappearing snows would permit.
In the meantime Mr. A. E. Burns, one of the watchmen, had been dispatched upon a snowshoe expedition to cover the whole system of roads, and report upon the conditions then existing. His report is as follows:
With the exception of a few drifts there is but very little snow between here and Golden Gate. The grade around the hill approaching the trestle there is covered with slide rock, but no snow, as the wind sweeps it bare. At the upper end of the trestle is a large drift, another much larger at the Falls; the latter extends from the summit of the cliff on the west clear over the road, and falls for a distance of 50 feet. The first bridge on the flat is entirely buried, with the snow lying level away up above the rails. Across the flat the snow is from 2 to 4 feet; on Indian Creek bridge it is just 4 feet 6 inches, but has blown off considerably on Willow Creek bridge. All across the Willow Park the road lies under 4 to 5 feet of snow. From there on to Norris the snow is not deeper than usual at this season, 4 feet. Much of the new road around Norris Hill is covered with drifts which will probably leave the road bed very soft; but about one-third of it is entirely bare, owing to the warm ground. It appeared to me that the approaches to the new bridge at Norris had settled to a considerable extent; if as much as I think, I'm afraid they will wash out at high water; but in this I may be mistaken, as it is hard to tell under so much snow. From Norris to the Virginia Cascade the snow's depth will average about £ feet; from there to the canyon, about 5 feet. The Gibbon River is all open, so that I do not apprehend any danger to the road below the Upper Falls from the ice damming up as last spring. I arranged with the care-taker at the Canyon Hotel to watch the snow on the retaining wall round the road above the canyon, and to cut it off if it threatens the road at all. There is no ice at all in the rapids above the Upper Yellowstone Falls; large snow banks are along the shores and on the larger rocks, but the water, which is rising rapidly, is fast cutting it away. The bridge over the dry draw at the foot of the Canyon Hill is supporting snow 2 feet above the top of the side rails. On the new road across Hayden Valley the snow is of course very deep, the bridges over Alum and Trout creeks are covered level with the rails, and the grade up from Trout Creek is one huge drift. On the Continental Divide the snow is so deep that it is impossible for me to form any idea of the roads there. Most of the signboards we put up from Old Faithful to the West Thumb are under the snow, at least I could only find two, and they were but a few inches above the snow. Spring Creek is open most of its length, snow fell there heavily last fall, before there was much frost, thus preventing the creek freezing, and with the little warm weather we have had, the snow over the creek has melted, leaving an open channel. This is very fortunate, as I believe the washouts there last spring were mostly caused by ice dams, which are not likely to occur this time. Between the first bridge on the Firehole River (from Spring Creek) and the second the snow is from 20 to 30 feet deep, making the river, which is open, look as though it is flowing through a canyon. I don't think it will be possible to get a team through there before July, unless it is shoveled, or an exceptional period of warm weather arrives.
Around the Upper Basin the snow is going rapidly, and there is but little between that point and the Fountain. From Lower Basin the snow lies from 3 to 5 feet deep, but no very large drifts. On Gibbon Meadows and Elk Park it is from 2 to 3 feet.
Based upon the information derived, I sent out a small party to patrol on snowshoes the road across the Continental Divide, to repair the damages from melting snows in Spring Creek Canyon as fast as they might occur, and otherwise keep me duly informed of anything which might happen.
As a result of the foregoing arrangements, the whole road system was occupied by repair parties nearly as fast as the snow disappeared. and it was placed in a most excellent condition in time for the season's traffic. The system adopted for keeping the roads in repair worked admirably; and as a distinct matter of fact, the roads in the Yellowstone National Park, trom the beginning to the end of the season, were never before kept in such thorough and satisfactory condition.
Particular attention is invited to the fact that these repair parties do a great deal of work in the way of surfacing the roads with gravel, and in completing portions of road which have been left unfinished from former seasons.
A considerable portion of the roads was impassable from snow until the middle of June, and the Continental Divide road was not passable from the same cause until about the 1st of July.
During the first week in June Mr. Hunt, with the men in the office, made a survey and location of a portion of the proposed road from Mammoth Hot Springs to the Grand Canyon.
ROAD TO SOUTH BOUNDARY.
This work was executed by contract. In response to a public invita tion for proposals the contract was awarded to Oscar Swanson, of Great Falls, Mont., who commenced work about June 20, as soon as the snow permitted him to place his men in the field. He executed his contract satisfactorily and opened the road for a distance of 15.5 miles south toward the boundary. This portion of the line was carefully surveyed, and a reconnaissance made at the close of the season to develop the quantity of work remaining and required to open up the line to the wagon road approach to the south boundary. The road can be opened quickly and at small expense.
A very difficult piece of road in clay at this point was made over again and surfaced with gravel. The material selected was not suitable, and this surfacing will have to be done again. A gravel suitable for road covering should be of quartzy material and associated with san i and clay or loam sufficiently to fill the interstices of the hard material and act as a matrix when it becomes packed.
July 1, 1893, the new appropriation for $30,000 became available. Preparation had been made for it by advertising for the delivery of teams and material on that day. Also a site had been selected for a sawmill which was to saw lumber for the season's work and for the large wooden arch bridge above the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River.
It has been the invariable custom to purchase supplies and hire teams by publicly inviting proposals and purchasing from the lowest bidder, making open market purchases only in cases of emergency. The bids for teams were as follows:
The bids were lower than ever before on account of the financial disturbance in the country.
Five parties were organized and placed in the field on the 1st of July: (1) One at Norris to complete the new cut-off road at that point.
(2) One at the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River to complete a very difficult piece of road along the rocky face of the canyon.
(3) The sawmill and bridge crew at the Grand Canyon. This crew worked at logging and running the sawmill for twenty-five days, and was then reorganized to build the big wooden arch bridge above the Falls.
(4) One to proceed to the unfinished beach road on the lake, placing the road in thorough repair, over which it marched on its way in.
(5) A general repair party.
About the middle of September the amount of funds set aside for expenditure this season had been nearly expended, and all of the crews were discharged, except the bridge crew. This was held in hopes of getting the bridge finished, but owing to severe weather and snow and ice, which made it difficult and dangerous to work upon the lofty structure, it was deemed advisable to postpone completion until next year.
The road above the Upper Falls was completed and the crew placed upon the road from Grand Canyon to Mammoth Hot Springs via Yanceys.
The road at Norris was completed and the crew placed upon the new road at the Fountain Hotel, which it opened to travel.
The road at the beach was not completed, but it was carried forward to such point that it can easily be completed in time for the bulk of next season's traffic.
The repair party made efficient repairs over the road between Norris, via the Grand Canyon and Lake, to the Thumb, and was merged with crew at the beach.
The sawmill was kept in operation for sixteen and a half days, turning out an average of 5,800 feet, B. M., per day. An attempt was made to get out dry timbers for certain members of the bridge from standing burnt trees. This involved much trouble and increased the cost of the timber somewhat.
A large trestle bridge was built near the Grand Canyon by the bridge crew, but not quite completed.
The bridge over the Lamar River having gone out with the spring freshets a crew was sent in to rebuild it. This crew also did some repair work on the road to east boundary of the Park.
Organization.-Six working parties, completely equipped for field service with tents, tools, teams, and provisions, in local charge of Mr. Charles A. Hunt, overseer, assisted by one timekeeper and two receivers of material.
All supplies were assembled at Mammoth Hot Springs as a distributing depot. They were shipped in by rail to Cinnabar, Mont., and from thence hauled 8 miles by wagon to the depot. From the depot the distribution was made by wagons to the working camps, in a systematic and continuous manner. The distances hauled over by wagons were as follows:
Well painted cedar mile posts and sign boards placed over the whole of the belt system of roads except between Norris and Upper Basin.
Permanent granite monuments set up at the lake outlet to mark the meridian and astronomical point determined by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.