Over The Divide





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

divide.





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