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About The west shore. (Portland, Or.) 1875-1891 | View Entire Issue (July 1, 1883)
THE WEST SHORE.
JOHN MUIR, ESQ.
When the business men of Portland tendered a
dinner to Mr. Julm Muir immsdiatcly prior to his
departure for St. Paul, their complimentary
speeches expressed the sentiments o( the people
of the northwest RTifrraMy. To him more than
to anyone else we owe the splendid shipping fa
cilities now enjoyed by this whole region. Money
can build railroads, but it requires ability and
hard work to operate them properly. ' '
Mr. Muir was born in Canada In 1847. At
the early age of fourteen he bid farewell to the
school-room and entered the employ of t whole
sale manufacturing firm in the Dominion in the
capacity ol a messenger. With this house he re
mained seven years, his ability and strict attention
to business raising him through successive stages
to the positions of cashier and head salesman.
During this lime he undertook the study of short
hind wrilin;, and with his characteristic deter
mination mastered it thoroughly.
becoming discontented with a residence in
Canada, and anxious to go to that busy,
growing west, whert such golden opportunities
were ocn to young men of his character, he
went to the enterprising city of Chicago, and was
there engaged for a year as a short hand writer
and reporter. In 1S70 he received an olTer of the
position of stenographer for the General Superin
tendent pf the Kansas Pacific Railway, at that
time General Anderson, the present Chief En
gineer of the Northern Pacific. After a short
servietln.llnt opacity, he was transferred to the
freight depirtuienl as short hand writer for Mr.
T. F. O.ikes, the Gjneial Freight Aent, now
Vice President of the Northern Pacilic. His
great execute ability was e irly recognized ami
appreciated, and he was quickly promoted to the
position of chief clerk and then Assistant General
Freight Agent, In I H 7 6 , upon the appointment of
Mr. Oakes as General Super iiilcndent and Mr.
Henry VilUrd as Receiver, Mr.. Muir was ad
vanced to the more iiiixrl.mt position of General
Freight AgMit, discharging the duties of that
office with niiikfd ability' until the fall of 1880,
when (he road was aboihed by the Union Pa
cific He remained in full charge of the Kansas
Pacili; unljr the new management until he came
0 Oiegm in D.'ccmhcr, 1SS0.
When Mr. VilUrd inaugurated his immense
railroad enterprises in the northwest, he looked
about him for assistants among those whose ability
and integrity were well known to hiap, realizing
that UHin them even more than UKn himself de
endcd the success or failuie of his gigantic un
dertaking. Of these he selected Mr. Muir for one
of the most important positions, that of General
freight and Passenger Agent of the Oregon Rail
way and Navigation Company. With the ac
iiuisitioit of the Northern Pacific In the Villard
system he became Suierintcndent of Traffic of
that road, and In quick succession the O. R. &
N. Co., Pacific Coast Steamship Co., and the
Oregon & California R. R. Co, were also placed
under his charge.
With what success he has managed this ureal
trust the business turn of the whole northwest are
(aimhar. He has remodeled and reconciled the
disjointed and conflicting interests of rail, river
and ocean transportation iuto one great and bar
taoutous system, bringing all under his p:ronal
and complete control. The labor, the vexations,
the sleepless nights, the captious opposition to
change of old customs, the thousand difficulties
encountered and overcome, he alone can fully ap
preciate; but the result of his efforts we can
plainly see in a traffic system so perfect that the
immense business of the great northwest is
handled with a dispatch never before realized. He
has thus won the admiration, and confidence of I
the business community, and the friendship and
good will of all with whom he has come in per
sonal contact. .
On the twenty-third of July he left Oregon to
take up his permanent residence in ' St. Paul,
Minnesota, where he assumes control of the
traffic department ol the entire Villard. ; system,
extending from Duluth to Seattle, from Minneap
olis to Winnipeg, from Portland to the California
line, from Umatilla Junction to the connection
with the Union- Pacific system near Baker City,
over the fee lers running through ' the ' Walla
Walla and Palouse countries, up the' Columbia
and Snake rivers, and on the ocean route from
San Diego to the most northern point touched in
Alaskan waters, embracing in the main' line and
all its branches a total mileage of some 7,000
miles. For such a position he is especially fitted
by his long experience, his prompt, decisive man
ner of dispatching business and his high executive
ability. The people of the Northwest can rest
assured that the traffic department of their great
transportation system will be managed with con
summate skill and with that great consideration
for the interests of the country that' has character
ized this gentlemen's official actions in the past.
bells toiled slowly up the steep mountain grades
the iron horse will rush swiftly along, and goods
will be taken from Portland to Baker City in less
time than was formerly consumed in crossing th
summit. The beauty of Meacham creek canyon
will always make this summit passage of the Blue
mountains an attractive scene to travelers, to be
singled out and remembered from among the
thousand other interesting sights that will be for-otten.
MEACHAM CREEK CANYON.
One who has witnessed the glorious sunsets of
Walla Walla yalley nnd marked the deep blue
tints that immediately afterwards appear on the
long range of mountains stretching off to the
southeast, needs not to be told why the early ex
plorers bestowed the name of " Blue" upon them.
I he Blue mountains stretch from north to south
ucarly across the eastern end of Oregon, and
prorcct for a few miles into Washinirton territory.
They were one of the greatest barriers that lav in
the path of the early pioneer seeking a home in
the bcaulilul Willamette valley. . Once aafelv
over them, thounh the Cascade ranrre still lo h.
fore him, he considered his journey almost at an
cnci j yet even then many a one never lived to
reach his destination. ...
Dr. Whitman and the immigrants of 18.11
brought the first wagon over the mountains to
vtaiiiatpu,. the missionary station near Walla
Walla which a few years later witnessed the bloodv
Whitman massacre. When cold was discovered
on Powder, Burnt and Boise rivers in 1861, travel
over the mountains became very extensive. The
llcacham and the Thomas and Ruckles toll roads
were constructed, and staees. teams and narlr
animals crossed over daily. On the former 1
well-known point was Meacham station, a stop
ping place In the pass at th; verv summit nf ih.
mountains. It is throuch this Das the Rik
City branch of the O.R.1N. Co. hat just been
constructed. the crack of the stare drivir'.
whip and the choice expletives of the teamsti-r
must now give way to the locomotive' shriek.
wnere the long mule team with iu jingling
PORT NEUF VALLEY.
The valleys of Idaho are but little known anH
even their names are unfamiliar. It is the gen
eral impression that there is no agricultural land
in the territory, and yet thousands of farms are
being taken up annually by those who have the
wisdom to understand their value. Professor
Gilbert Butler says :'
Born of the mountains in whose laps thev lie.
they carry the wealth that untold years have
robbed the mountains of. These valleys are the
accumulations of the decompositions ot thousands
of acres, with all their organic growth collected
into .one 'narrow, conhned mass of richness.
Even the alkaline lands, which the richness of the
more sequestered valleys, has .not reached, are
teeming with all the elements that make them
full of vegetable life. These narrow valleys vary
in width, but -are narrow, averaging, perhaps,
three miles, with lengths varying from one to
fifty miles.. Although, individually, the valleys
are small, yet when taken collectively, the arable
I I 1 .!- .1 11 1 1.
mnu coruaineu in mem wouia lonn a Den 5,000
miles long, with anaveiage width of three miles;
an area of 15,000 square miles, or nearly 10,000.
000 acres. As already noticed, the valleys are '
made up of rich bottom lands and level, or gently
undulating plateaus. . The mountain ranges on
either, side generally diner in their geological
character. On one side, granite and its allied
primitive rocks, by the disintegration of which
the valleys have been supplied with the alumina
and alkaline silicates so necessary to an exhaust
ible soil ; on the other, ranges of secondary lime
stones, sandstones, etc., that have furnished the
additional constituents of a soil of unequaled rich-,
ness. The want of rain to irrigate the lands is
the only apparent difficulty, and nature has pro
vided for even this, in the general conformation
of the1 country. The mountain streams are in
nearly .every, instance never-failing, and as the
valleys are nearly level, the water is easily diverted
from its nataral channels and made to wind
around the foot-hills, and thence distributed over
almost every foot of arable land.
' The Port Neuf valley, of Eastern Idaho, is one
of the smallest of these, and was for years a favor
ite trapping ground for the Hudson's Bay Co. and
the American fur companies. The river breaks
through the mountains in what is called the Port
Neuf gap, and winds down the valley towards the
Snake. Along it are many rocky formations of
peculiar character. They rise in solid walls to
an altitude of from twenty to a hundred feet, ex
tending in a long line of uniform height for miles,
resembling huge fortifications. In several places
two and even three of these rocky walls run par
allel to each other for a great distance. The
Oregon Short Line traverses the valley and runs
for miles along the base of these high rocky
ridges that tower above it on either hand. The
diversity of the scenery along the road, the
mountains and valleys, torrents and peaceful
rivers, each with its peculiar attractions, holds
the traveler's attention from the beginning to the
end of hit journey..