From A Tour West

By G. B. Runyan

Contributed by Fuller Runyan


Personal Biography

Points of Interest in Salt Lake


Trip Notes Here and Elsewhere

Mr. G. B. Runyan, whose return thus far from the far west, was briefly noticed in an issue of your paper some time since, is now, and has been for about four weeks past, visiting his four brothers in this county; viz: Philip Runyan, and Kincaid Runyan, farmers, living near Franklin Grove; W. C. Runyan, merchant, and A. J. Runyan, teacher; together with other relatives and friends in this village and vicinity.

Mr. Runyan, the subject of this communication, is a resident of Montour County, Pennsylvania; an extensive and successful agriculturalist and stock grower. Being possessed of a good degree of the “go-ahead” spirit, together with steady habits, and a constant and vigorous attention to business, has gained for him a handsome compensation, being the unencumbered owner of a large amount of real estate, and a valuable lot of highly bred stock.

His family consists of three sons and three daughters. His wife died about a year ago, after a lingering illness. Of her we can truly say, she filled the place of wife and mother as near to perfection as it is possible for woman to do. Her moral, benevolent, and religious character, exerted a great influence for good in the community in which she lived. The high degree attained in these virtues, together with unusual social qualities, especially endeared her to all who knew her.

His oldest daughter married some five years since, J. H. Miles, M.D., of Milton, Pennsylvania, a physician of acknowledged skill. His second daughter, a model of her mother in character, is mistress of his house. His youngest child, a girl of eleven years, is attending school. His property and business affairs at home, are being managed by his oldest and third sons, John and [Fuller] aged respectively 24 and 18 years. His second son, Wm. C. is a professional teacher. Being personally acquainted with the “boys”, we know whereof we speak when we say they are a sound chip off the old block.

As early as 1849, when quite a young man, Mr. R. made a trip into this country, and as far west as Jefferson Co., Iowa, making the entire trip by water and on horseback; railroads being less numerous than at the present day. There being at that time but one railroad in Chicago, and but sixteen thousand inhabitants; not as much as connecting railroad between Chicago and Philadelphia or New York. Mr. R. purchased at that time, lands from the Government, both in this State and in Jefferson county, Iowa. The quarter section (160 acres,) in Bradford town, this county, near Franklin Grove, now owned and so magnificently improved by Philip Runyan, he purchased at the time, and also a half section, (320 acres,) in Jefferson county, Iowa. The last named lands he still owned until a couple of years ago, when he sold them, realizing several thousand dollars on his investment.

Mr. R. is now on his fifth trip west since 1849; the present tour being much more extensive than any of the former ones.---We shall notice briefly a few points respecting his travels, points visited, together with his opinion of the different sections of country, as related to us in conversation.

Leaving his home on the 8th of May, last, he boarded the train at Milton, Pa., thence by way of the Philadelphia & Erie R. R. to the city of Lock Haven, Pa.---here he stopped one day, or night, with his wife’s brother, (Schuyler,) of the far known Fallon House; thence via. Bald Eagle R. R. to Tyrone; thence via. Pennsylvania Central into Lawrence county, western Pa.---Here he stopped two weeks, visiting relatives. Leaving there May 25th, via. Pittsburgh Fort Wayne and Chicago; arrived here May 26th. He remained here and at Franklin a few days; leaving the latter place June 7th en route for San Francisco, via. The Northwestern R. R., to Omaha, Nebraska; thence by the Union Pacific R. R. to Ogden, Utah, which place is the terminus of the Union Pacific; thence via the Utah Central to Salt Lake City, a distance of 37 miles. Here he again tarries for awhile, seeing sights. He represents the Walker House, Salt Lake City, as being a first class House; a home-like place for the tourist. The proprietor is a St. Louis man who attends closely to the comforts of his guests.

Salt Lake City is a place possessed of many curiosities, both natural and artificial. Its streets are constantly supplied with snow water, which comes from the snow capped Mt. Wasatch, which is south of the city, and rising to height of 11,000 feet above level of the sea, and 7,000 above Salt Lake. Its top is constantly covered with snow. The Mormon Tabernacle is an attractive and imposing edifice. It is oblong in shape, not having corners, but round on the ends, with dome and metal roof. It contains twenty doors; twelve below and eight above, each nine feet wide. These doors are double, and open outward. The object in this is that in case of accident, the building can be quickly emptied. In the Tabernacle is an organ fifty feet high, and has three thousand pipes. This instrument was manufactured inside the building which contains it, by the Mormon people, and is made of wood which grew on the mountain above described.

Another structure here which excites still greater attention is the Mormon Temple, at which they have been twenty-two years building, and seven or eight years will be required to complete it. This Temple is built of granite stone; its walls are nine feet, nine inches thick; two hundred long, one hundred feet wide, and one hundred feet high. It has three spires on each end; the center ones two hundred feet high. While at this place he called upon “the distinguished person,” Brigham Young, President of the Mormon Society. He represents Brigham as being very free and social, having treated him with much respect. It so happened that he called on him on his (Brigham’s,) seventy-fifth birth day.

Leaving Salt Lake City he returns to Ogden; thence by Central Pacific R. R. for San Francisco. Some considerable distance before reaching Ogden, and while yet in Wyoming Territory, at a place called Sherman, the highest point on the Union Pacific R. R., the traveler can view Fremont’s Peak, one hundred and eighty miles distant. Here are some of the extensive snow sheds, one of which is forty-three miles long. At one of these sheds, Mr. R. was detained some twenty-four hours, a fire having broken out, and consumed about one mile of shed, and materially damaging the road; also totally consuming forty-three cars loaded with freight.

{Concluded next week.} From the AMBOY JOURNAL, October 7, 1877, Page 1, Column 4


The Rocky Mountains all along this line of road, are destitute of timber; only now and then a scraggy water willow to be seen. After leaving Salt Lake you pass the great American Deserts, and reaching the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which are well timbered, mostly with pine. Many objects of interest attract the traveler’s attention, which we have not time nor space to describe. One point here, however, deserving of notice, is a place called Cape Horn, where you can view a ledge of rocks from twenty-five hundred to three thousand feet almost perpendicular below the road, and the same above it; also an extensive view of the gold diggings. Leaving the Sierra Nevada mountains, you pass down into Sacramento, Sanwakee and Fruit Vale Valleys, which are the most productive of the State, and passing thro’ the cities of Sacramento, Stockton, and on to San Francisco. Mr. R. spent some ten days in the last named cities and valleys. He represents this part of California as being very destitute; the crops being an entire failure, the result of excessive drouth, and immense numbers of cattle and sheep have actually starved to death there this season; there being no pasture and nothing to feed them.

At San Francisco he boards the Chester steamer and sails up the Pacific to the Columbia river; thence up the Columbia to the Willamette to Portland, Oregon. The vessel was four days and a half sailing from San Francisco, Cal., to Portland, Oregon, a distance of seven hundred and sixty miles. Portland is situated ten miles above the mouth of the Willamette. Here the largest vessels are loaded for Liverpool, China and other eastern ports. The exports are flour, grain, fruits, beef, &c. He regards the climate in Oregon as the finest in America, and the productions of the Willamette valleys, as excelling those of any other section in the United States, both in quantity and quality. The finest qualities and greatest quantities of fruit are here raised. Wheat is sown every month in the year. The February sowing is thought to be the best,--- The wheat sown in the months of June, July, August, and September, are used for pasture during the fall and winter months. In the spring the stock is taken off and it matures a good crop. Wheat yields from forty to sixty-five bushels to the acre; and they report yields as high as ninety bushels per acre; and oats and barley as high as one hundred and twenty bushels per acre. There is no corn raised there, the climate being too cool for the successful production of corn. Cabbage, beets, &c., grow all winter.

There are no flies or insects there—and crops have never been known to fail. From the middle of June to the middle of October they have no rain, but the balance of the year they have rains. The principal business along the Columbia river is salmon fishing. Our description of Oregon is principally confined to the Willamette Valley – which is partly prairie and partly timber, well supplied with navigable rivers, railroads and enterprising cities. Salene, Albany, and Yamkill, on the Yamkill river, are among the number.

Moderately well improved lands sell from twenty to forty dollars per acre. Educational advantages and interests, religious and social society are as good as in any part of the Union. A good country for men of capital, but a very poor one for laboring men and mechanics. After two weeks stay in this section he returned by steamer Ajax to San Francisco; thence by overland to Omaha; thence through Missouri to Manhattan, Riley Co., Kansas; thence south on the Leavenworth, Kansas and Galveston R. R., and back to Kansas City via. Hannibal and St. Jo, through Missouri to Quincy, Illinois. He thinks Johnson County, southeastern Kansas as good country as he saw in his travels! That section is well watered, and its soil and crops are excelled by none, except by those of the Willamette Valley, Oregon.

Some two weeks ago the five brothers above named visited together in this place, at the residences of W. C. and A. J. Runyan, the first time that they had all been together for a period of twenty-three years. This was doubtful an occasion of joy – we heard them express a regret that they could not have had with them on that occasion their five sisters, all of whom reside in Pennsylvania, their native State. Mr. G. B. Runyan, while visiting in this county accompanied an excursion from Franklin Grove to Rock Island; also attended the old settlers meeting of this county held at the Nursery Grounds of Mr. Whitney, near Franklin Grove.

To-day, Thursday Sept. 6th, he leaves for Chicago, accompanied by his brother, W. C. Runyan. After a few days in Chicago, he will cross the lakes to Grand Haven, Michigan; thence down to White Pigeon; thence through Indiana, Ohio, and western Pennsylvania, stopping at various points on the way. He expects to reach his home about the middle of next month. ---- Paw Paw, Sept. 6, 1877

From the AMBOY JOURNAL, October 31, 1877, Page 1, Columns 5 & 6

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