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Over The Divide


Source: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

The hope of finding El Dorado, that animated the adventurous Spaniards
who made the earlier recorded voyages to America, lived in the souls of
Western mountaineers as late as the first half of this century. Ample
discoveries of gold in California and Colorado gave color to the belief
in this land of riches, and hunger, illness, privation, the persecutions
of savages, and death itself were braved in the effort to reach and
unlock the treasure caves of earth. Until mining became a systematic
business, prospectors were dissatisfied with the smaller deposits of
precious metal and dreamed of golden hills farther away. The unknown
regions beyond the Rocky Mountains were filled by imagination with
magnificent possibilities, and it was the hope of the miner to penetrate
the wilderness, strike it rich, and make his pile.

Thus, the region indicated as over the divide meaning the continental
water-shed-or over the range came to signify not a delectable land
alone, but a sum of delectable conditions, and, ultimately, the goal of
posthumous delights. Hence the phrase in use to-day: Poor Bill! He's
gone over the divide.

The Indian's name of heaven--the happy hunting ground--is of similar
significance, and among many of the tribes it had a definite place in the
far Southwest, to which their souls were carried on cobweb floats. Just
before reaching it they came to a dark river that had to be crossed on a
log. If they had been good in the world of the living they suffered no
harm from the rocks and surges, but if their lives had been evil they
never reached the farther shore, for they were swept into a place of
whirlpools, where, for ever and ever, they were tossed on the torrent
amid thousands of clinging, stinging snakes and shoals of putrid fish.
From the far North and East the Milky Way was the star-path across the

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