Take Gila Bend On Cattle Drive To Coast
From the Arizona Daily Star, Feb 26, 1922
By Edward Vail
Water Barrels Formerly Used For Sauerkraut Give Queer Flavor
In the afternoon we hit the trail for Gila Bend, and driving out slowly about ten miles on the old stage road riding the north side of the railroad, we made a late camp for the night. The next afternoon we reached Estrella, which is at the head of a valley which would be rather pretty if it were not so dry. There are desert mountains on each side and south of the little station and a mountain higher than the rest forms a Rincon. Tom concluded we would turn the cattle loose that night by grazing them in the direction of that mountain and then guarding them only on the lower side, thus giving them a chance to lie down whenever they liked, or to eat any grass or weeds they could find. I remember it was a beautiful night and not very cold. In the moonlight, I could see the cattle scattered around on the hills, and could hear the boys singing their Spanish songs as they rode back and forth on guard singing or whistling. This is so common on the trail that I have often heard one cowpuncher ask another how they held their cattle on roundup. The other would reply, “Oh, we had to sing to them!”
There is one thing that may seem funny now, but it did not seem so at the time. When we commenced making dry camps and using the water from our barrels on our wagon, we found it had a very disagreeable taste. I supposed that the barrels I had bought in Tucson had been used for whiskey or wine, a flavor to which I do not think a cowboy would seriously object, but they proved to be old sauerkraut barrels! We had no chance to clean them thoroughly until we got to the river. Then I took the heads off and cleaned out all the kraut and soaked them in the river. The next day we drove the cattle about ten miles down the winding canyon along the railroad toward Gila, and made our third dry camp west of Maricopa. Before leaving Estrella, I begged water enough from the section foreman there to water our wagon team.