Mile 238: The Narrows

“The regular correspondent of the St. Louis Missouri Democrat went over the line in June, 1861, and wrote from Denver to his paper (issue of July 9): ‘Taking into consideration the distance and the nature of the country through which this Company has located its route, it is without doubt the most convenient and best equipped of any on the continent. The road itself cannot be surpassed; there is but one bad piece in it from St. Joseph to Denver. I allude to what is called the “Narrows,” which are on the [Little] Blue, about two hundred miles from St. Joseph, and are caused by the near approach of the river to the bluffs. . . . This is no doubt a dangerous pass for an inexperienced driver; but none such are employed by the company. . . .

‘In passing the Narrows, our party experienced no little uneasiness . . . and by dark we had fully made up our minds to receive a bath. . . . The moon went down . . . the night became so black that it was impossible to see a foot from the coach, the wind came bowling wildly over the prairie, and the incessant noshes of lightning, together with the sharp peals of thunder, breaking seemingly just overhead. . . . Charley (the driver] lighted the coach lamps, meantime answering indefinitely questions put in agitated tones. We gathered, however that we must get through the Narrows before the rain reached us. . . .

“‘Presently we knew the coach to be entering a gulch, close to one side the lightning revealed the waters of the Blue, on the other the rough sides of the bluff, and as we slowly passed a crevice the bright eyes of a coyote, crouched a few yards from the window, flashed in menacingly upon us. . . . Suddenly there was cry from the box to ‘!ean to the right.’ No set of frightened school boys ever obeyed more quickly the commands of a severe pedagogue. . . . As we moved the coach took on abrupt turn, the lash was vigorously applied to the mules, and the next moment the cheering cry of “all right” relieved us of all further enxiety. In making this turn the near wheels come within a foot of the bank, the road inclines toward the river, so that if the ground happens to be wet there is no way to prevent the conch sliding off into the water, or too short a tum upsetting the institution and its contents . ‘ (A map of the Narrows is given in Root and Connelley, Overland Stage, p. 864.)”