SethSlocum - Railroad Surveyor

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SethSlocum - Railroad Surveyor

Postby mpallamary » Sat May 16, 2020 12:00 pm

I put my time to good use during these last couple of months. I restored and republished an 1884 Dime Novel written by Captain Fred Whittaker. It took 40 hours to restore the cover. It is a fun and entertaining read!

Enjoy and be safe. ... d-building
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Re: SethSlocum - Railroad Surveyor

Postby pls5528 » Sun May 17, 2020 3:15 pm

Great work Mike! Love the history

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Jay Wright
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Re: SethSlocum - Railroad Surveyor

Postby Jay Wright » Sun May 17, 2020 4:42 pm

Being shot at by Sitting Bull in no excuse for that rod being out of plumb.

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Re: SethSlocum - Railroad Surveyor

Postby mpallamary » Mon May 18, 2020 9:19 am

It is really a fun read. I wish I could take credit for it. The only surviving cover is scotch taped over and there is handwriting on it. During the Christmas-New Year break I spent 40 hours repairing and cleaning it up, pixel by pixel. There is a second cover I did the same with. It is in the book!

"Between the feeding cavalry horses and trains might be seen a little clump of horsemen, who kept up an irregular progress by fits and starts.
Every now and then this group halted and remained still for several minutes, a single man galloping ahead with a long pole, to halt after a while at the waving of a flag in the group left behind.

Then would ensue some mysterious signals between the poleman and the others, after which the party would come on at a very rapid pace to the position previously occupied by the single man, who, in his turn, started away again, full speed.

A careful scrutiny with the glass would reveal the fact that the course of this party was always nearly on a level, and that it was marked as it went by little conical heaps of white stones, gathered from the river-bed by men detached for the purpose from the main party.

“They’re leveling pretty fast to-day,” said one of the cavalry officers, a handsome young fellow in a dandified buckskin suit, sometimes worn on the plains by officers who are vain of their personal appearance, and well provided with money.

He spoke to one of his brother officers, a tall dark-faced man with a huge drooping mustache, that overhung a short beard of a few weeks’ growth.
The young officer was Lieutenant Kennedy, the older man Captain and Brevet-Major Ireland; both of the cavalry escort of General Chester’s column, guarding the surveyors of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Ireland nodded absently. He was a gloomy man to be with on a scout, for he was a hard drinker in garrison, and the deprivation of his accustomed stimulants was apt to make him sullen and morose, till the march had lasted some time and his nervous system had got toned up.

“Ay, ay,” he said, “fast enough, I suppose. I wish the cursed thing were over.”

“Why?” asked Kennedy, surprised. “I think it’s delicious, this camp-life, with these pleasant marches, and all this game. The scenery, the bracing air, everything I see, makes me happy.”

Ireland drew his heavy brows together, as he replied, ill-temperedly:

“Of course, of course. You youngsters are always crazy on a first expedition, and we’ve seen no Indians yet. You’ll alter your opinion when you see them.”

“I hope I shall do my duty when I do,” replied Kennedy, rather stiffly. “I don’t pretend to be an old Indian-fighter like yourself, major, but I really do hope I shall not disgrace the cloth when my time comes.”

Ireland looked at him more kindly.

“I don’t believe you will, Jim. Don’t mind what I say. I believe my nerves are going to pieces since the general shut down on the whisky, confound him for a temperance fanatic! Hello! they are coming on fast, ain’t they? We’ll have to move on further, I expect.”

The little party of men with the leveling tripod and staff had indeed come up abreast of them, and had dismounted between the cavalry and the river.
One of them was setting up the leveling-stand on its tripod, the bearer of the staff was galloping ahead; the sound of a bugle startled up the cavalry men and set the horse-herders to driving in their animals toward the saddles while the men who had kept their chargers saddled began to tighten their girths and get ready to mount.

Kennedy took his own horse and rode up to the leveling-party to ask:

“How much longer do you expect to work to-day, Mr. Graves?”

A stout, bearded man, with a field-book in his hand, went on muttering and scribbling for several seconds before he looked up, to answer hurriedly:
“Just as long as the light holds and this level continues, sir. Montana George tells me there’s good camping-ground any place for twenty miles further. Must make hay while the sun shines. Go on, boys.”

Kennedy saluted politely, and went back to his party, where he reported to Major Ireland the engineer’s determination to go on.

Ireland frowned in his usual morose way, but made no observation, and gave the signal to the bugler.

The cheery notes of the brazen clarion, sounding “Prepare to mount--Mount!” were followed by the departure of the first company on the road, while the men of the second saddled up as fast as they could, following their leaders in less than five minutes.
The officers of the escort, except perhaps Kennedy, looked ill-tempered as they set out on their renewed journey.

Belonging to the regular army, they believed in taking life as easily as possible, and earning their pay with the least practicable exertion, while the engineer party, being in the pay of a railroad company, kept pushing ahead to get as much work done as could be crammed into a day.
The engineer, Graves, was a plain, hardworking man, with no affectation in his dress and manner, and the men around him were as plain as himself.
Most of them were laborers and pioneers--sturdy, powerful frontiersmen--and only one was young.

He was a good-looking youth, hardly more than a boy with a downy fringe of beard round his face, a fresh color, and bright, keen brown eyes. He wore a dress more dandified than most of the others, with a buckskin coat fringed and bead-embroidered, a broad-brimmed gray felt hat, a gay silk handkerchief round his neck, and neatly-fitting boots on his feet.

In common with every man around, he had a revolver in his belt, and wore a long sheath-knife like a sailor.

As soon as Mr. Graves had taken his front and back sights, he spoke to this young man, saying:

“Get her on, Slocum. We’ve not many hours more to work.”

“Very good, sir,” was the response, and Slocum picked up the leveling tripod, put it over his shoulder and went for his horse, which stood patiently by.
Galloping away with a big spirit-level and stand on one’s shoulder is no joke, and Mr. Graves always did his work at a gallop, when he could, so that young Slocum held the hardest post in the party.

They made their next station about a quarter of a mile further on, and the ground beyond was such a fine continuous level that in less than half an hour they had traversed four miles and kept the cavalry scouts on a sharp trot to maintain their distance in advance.

It was while the staffman was actually abreast of the skirmish line, and Mr. Graves was noting down his hind sight before he took a squint at the advance staff, that the sound of five or six shots fired in a volley came down on the startled ears of the party, and the staffman dropped by his pole, which fell with him.

In a moment, the commander of the cavalry escort yelled out:

“Deploy as skirmishers! Gallop--march! Advance carbines! Forward--forward!”

There was a little confusion and hesitation among the men but they got out on the line and galloped forward, firing as they went, into a clump of woods ahead, from which the volley had come.

At the edge of this wood they now saw half a dozen mounted Indians, with long red streamers in their war bonnets, waving their hands and shaking their rifles tauntingly, as if daring the soldiers to come on.

Mr. Graves, the engineer, whose back was to the flagman, heard the noise, and turned his head to look at the soldiers advancing; then he said to his men in his gruff, business way:

“Come, don’t stare. Attend to your own affairs; make up the monument. The escort will take care of us.”

And without another glance at the fight going on so near him, he slewed round his telescope to bear on the place where the staff had been.

As soon as he saw that it was down, he uttered an impatient:

“Pshaw! how unfortunate! Here, one of you ride ahead and set up that staff.”

Even while he spoke, the cavalrymen of the escort made a charge on the Indians; the second company followed the first, and out of the woods came tearing a regular cloud of mounted Sioux, the rattling of whose rifles as they rode and shot was like the patter of hailstones on a roof.

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