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In the spring of the Kansas Pacific Railway Company organized a very extensive surveying expedition to determine upon the best route for a southern railway to the Pacific Coast through Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and the southern part of California. Until the Rio Grande del Norte, about equidistant from the Mississippi and the Pacific, was reached, three separate surveying parties were employed, but between that river and the Pacific coast there were no less than five parties, each equipped to make an accurate instrumental survey across that part of the continent by different routes on different parallels of latitude.
For this expedition the United States Government furnished escorts and transportation and other assistance, without which the undertaking, at that time, would have been impossible, for most of the Indian tribes were at war with the whites.
These expeditions were under the general charge of General W. Wright, who continued in personal charge of them until they reached the Rio Grande, when he returned to Denver to make reports to his principals, and [page ]. At Fort Craig the several parties were reorganized, their numbers increased, and their escorts doubled preparatory to exploring the difficult country lying to the westward. From the Rio Grande to the Colorado of the West, and thence across the desert, or Great Basin, as it was commonly called, into California, the parties surveyed and examined two entirely different districts, lying parallel to each other but separated by lofty mountains and tablelands, and distant from each other only about two degrees.
One party, consisting of three bodies of surveyors, passed into California through the Moqui country and northern Arizona, a country famous for its wild and beautiful scenery and studded over with the ruins of an extinct population.
This was along the 35th parallel and had been explored by Whipple, in —5, and afterwards by Lieutenant Beale in The other part of the expedition, consisting of two surveying parties, descended the Rio Grande valley for a distance of seventy-two miles below Fort Craig before turning westward. They then explored the barren districts lying between the Rio Gila and the boundary of Mexico, this route being known as the 32d parallel route. The route laid out by this expedition was somewhat changed in the construction [page ].