Santa Claus visits Simpson's Barpage 1 / 15
It had been raining in the valley of the Sacramento. The North Fork had overflowed its banks, and Rattlesnake Creek was impassable. The few boulders that had marked the summer ford at Crossing were obliterated by a vast sheet of water stretching to hills. The upstage was stopped at Granger's; the last mail had been abandoned in the tules, the rider swimming for his life. " An area," the Sierra Avalanche, with pensive local pride, ''as large as the Massachusetts is now under water."
Nor was the weather any better in the foothills. The mud lay deep on the mountain road; wagons that neither physical force nor moral ogation could move from the evil ways into which they had cumbered the track, and the way to Simpson's Bar was indicated by broken-down teams and hard swearing. And further on,cut off and inaccessible, rained upon and bedraggled, smitten by high winds and threatened by high water, Simpson's Bar, on the eve of Christmas Day, 1862 clung like a swallow's nest to the rocky entablature and splintered capitals of Table Mountain, and shook in the blast.
As night shut down on the settlement, a few lights gleamed through the mist from the windows of cabins on either side of the highway, now crossed and gullied by lawless streams and swept by marauding winds. Happily most of the population were gathered at Thompson's store, clustered around a red-hot stove, at which they silently spat in some accepted sense of social communion that perhaps rendered conversation unnecessary. Indeed, most methods of diversion had long since been ex- hausted on Simpson's Bar; high water had suspended the regular occupa- tions on the gulch and on the river, and a consequent lack of money and whiskey had taken the zest from most illegitimate recreation. Even Mr. HAmlin was fain to leave the Bar with fifty dollars in his pocket-the only amount actually realized of the large sums won by him in the successful exercise of his arduous profession. "Ef I was asked," he remarked somewhat later-"ef I was asked to pint out out a purty little village where a retired sport as didn't care for money could exercise hisself, frequent and lively, I'd sy Simpsons Bar; but for a young man with a large family depending on his exertions, it don't pay." As Mr. Hamlins family consisted mainly of female adults, this remark is quoted rather to show the breadth of his humor than the exact extent of his responsibilities.