Mountains and Mountain Building

On a trip from Italy to Switzerland

1894-11-13 22:12:00

I was so very weary I lay down on the seat and slept for two hours, and in doing this lost some interesting part of the scenery, but we made as much as possible of the rest of the journey.

It was grand and magnificent. There were lakes and gorges and canyons and towering rocks, some of remarkable appearance. The mountain peaks, rising above mountain peaks. Some adorned with trees, some cultivated to the very top. The trail to them went zigzag, and how they could build their houses, and make their gardens and live up so high was a mystery to us. Chapels were built on the mountain heights, and villages were nestled in the mountain gorges.

The mountains of rocks towering up so high, of every shape and of immense magnitude led us, as we looked upon them, to have deep and solemn thoughts of God. These are His works, evidences of the greatness of His power. He has set fast the mountains, girding them with His power, and the arm of God alone can move them out of their place. Rising before us in their grandeur they point us heavenward to God’s majesty, saying, “He changeth not.” With Him there is no variableness nor shadow of turning.

His law was spoken from Mt. Sinai amid thunder and flame and smoke, concealing His awful majesty and glory. He spoke His holy law with a voice like a trumpet. The lightnings flashed, the thunders rolled, shaking the grand old mountain from the top to its very base.

We are filled with awe. We love to gaze upon the grandeur of God’s works, and are never weary. Here is a range of mountains extending the whole length of a continent piled up one above another like a massive irregular wall reaching even above the clouds. That God who keeps the mountain in position has given us promises that are more immutable than these grand old mountains. God’s Word will stand forever from generation to generation.

If man complies with the conditions, then God will fulfill His part, though the foundations of the earth should be broken up and the heavens should pass away. God’s Word, God’s will in His law, remains unchangeable, eternal. The God of the mountains is our defense, our strong tower. We will find in Him help and strength ever to do His will. We see the perpetual hills and the glory that is flooded upon them from the heavens, and we want to pray and adore the living God who created all these wonders. We see hills, mountains, and valleys bathed in the noontide sun, reflecting its glories in the lakes — and we want to pray and worship the Lord God of hosts. We want faith. We want praise in our hearts that God ever lives. His words of promise are as unchangeable as His mountains.

God’s Word, the blessed guide, given to man declares concerning these great and grand rocky mountains that have stood the storm and tempest, the torrent and the roar of the winds, “The mountains shall depart, and the hills shall be removed, but His kindness shall not depart, neither shall the covenant of peace be removed from the heart that trusts in Him with perfect faith.” The range of the mountains which cover so much space with barren rocks and eternal snows is a storehouse of fertility to the plains. The precious things of the valley are nourished from these everlasting mountains. The Alps of Europe are its glory. The treasures of the hills send their blessings to millions. We see numerous cataracts rushing from the tops of the mountains into the valleys beneath.

These mountains to me are significant. Subterranean fires, although concealed in them, are burning. When the wicked shall have filled their cup of iniquity then the Lord will rise out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth. He will show the greatness of His power. The supreme Governor of the universe will reveal to men who have made void His law that His authority will be maintained. Not all the waters of the ocean shall fail, nor the fires which the Lord shall kindle. The earthquake makes the earth tremble, the rocks heave from the place, the hills and solid ground shake beneath the tread of Omnipotence, yet once more He will shake, not the earth only but also the heavens. There is a sea of fire beneath our feet. There is a furnace of fire in these old rocky mountains. The mountain belching forth its fires tells us the mighty furnace is kindled, waiting for God’s word to wrap the earth in flames. Shall we not fear and tremble before Him? — Ms. 29, 1885.

The Mission of the Mountains

I have thought that there could be nothing to exceed the grandeur of the Colorado mountains, but we see that which is fully as grand and which awakens in the soul reverence for God. We seem to behold His majesty and His power in His marvelous works. The varied scenery in the towering mountains and rocky heights, the deep mountain gorges with their rapid, noisy streams of water coming from the mountains above, the many cataracts that come tumbling down from the tops of the mountains, the waters breaking as they strike the rocks, and scattering into spray like a veil, render this scenery altogether one of surpassing beauty and grandeur.

Mountains contain God’s blessings. I have seen men and women look upon the majesty of mountains as though they were really a deformity of nature. They would sigh and say, “How needless! Let me have the level plain, the broad prairies, and I should be happy.” The mountains contain treasures of blessings which the Creator bestows upon the inhabitants of earth. It is the diversity in the surface of the earth, in mountains, plains, and valleys, which reveals the wisdom and the power of the great Master Worker. And those who would banish from our earth the rocks and mountains, the wild gorges and the noisy, rushing streams, and the precipices, as unsightly deformities in nature, and would have a smooth level — their senses are too limited to comprehend the majesty of God. Their minds are bound about with narrow ideas.

God, the great Architect, has built these lofty mountains, and their influence upon climate is a blessing to our world. They draw from the clouds enriching moisture. Mountain chains are God’s great reservoirs, to supply the ocean with its water. These are the sources of the springs, rills and brooks, as well as the rivers. They receive, in the form of rain and snow, the vapors with which the atmosphere is charged, and communicate them to the parched plains below.

We should look upon the irregular mountains of the earth as God’s fountains of blessings from which flow forth the waters to supply all the living creatures. Every time I look upon the mountains I feel gratitude to God. My heart is lifted up in praise to Him who knows the wants and needs of man. If the earth had been a uniform level there would be stagnant marshes. . . .

Evidences of the Flood

Men may trace, in the broken surface of the earth, the evidences of the flood. Men thought themselves wiser than God, and altogether too wise to obey His law and keep His commandment and obey the statutes and precepts of Jehovah. The rich things of earth which God had given them did not lead them to obedience, but away from obedience, because they misused their choice favors of heaven, and made the blessings given them of God objects to separate from God. And, because they became satanic in their nature, rather than divine, the Lord sent the flood of waters upon the old world and the foundations of the great deep were broken up.

Clay, lime, and shells that God had strewn in the bottoms of the seas, were uplifted, thrown hither and thither, and convulsions of fire and flood, earthquakes and volcanoes buried the rich treasures of gold, silver, and precious stone beyond the sight and reach of man. Vast treasures are contained in the mountains. There are lessons to be learned in God’s book of nature. . . .

While we talk freely of other countries, why should we be reticent in regard to the heavenly country, and the house not built with hands, eternal in the heavens? This heavenly country is of more consequence to us than any other city or country on the globe, therefore we should think and talk of this better, even an heavenly, country. And why should we not converse more earnestly and in a heavenly frame of mind, in regard to God’s gifts in nature? He has made all these things and designs that we shall see God in His created works. These things are to keep God in our remembrance and to lift our hearts from sensual things and bind them in bonds of love and gratitude to our Creator.

We see in the broken face of nature, in the cleft rocks, in the mountains and precipices, that which tells us a great wrong has been done, that men have abused God’s gifts, forgotten the Creator, and that the Lord was grieved and punished the wicked transgressors of His law, and as the result we have its effects in creation. Storms rage with destructive violence. Harm comes to men and beast and property. Because men continue to transgress God’s law, He removes their defense. Famine, calamity by sea, and the pestilence that walketh at noonday, follow because men have forgotten their Creator. Sin, the blight of sin, defaces and mars our world, and agonized creation groans under the iniquity of the inhabitants thereof. God has given us faculties to be cultivated, to be improved to His glory and for eternity.

These mountains and caverns and clefts of the rock which we behold have a history. Martyrs have perished here, and these places will never reveal their sacred trust until the Life-giver shall call them with the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God from the rocky caverns, the dungeons, the caves, and the clefts of the rocks. They died in exile, some by starvation, others by the cruel hand of man. They walked with God, and will walk with Him in white because they are found worthy. . . .

What a sight will it be when the dead shall come forth from their graves among these Waldensian valleys! . . .

From . . . hidden pits where human beings have been buried will start into life those who counted not their lives dear unto themselves, who valued integrity of soul to God above ease, above property, above life itself. From beneath the molding majestic walls is ground cursed by the Roman power, but sanctified by the blood of martyrs, and as the blood of Abel cried to God from the ground so will the blood of these slaughtered ones cry to God from the ground for vengeance. — Ms. 62, 1886.

The Rocky Mountains

From Cheyenne the engines toiled up, up the summit against the most fearful wind. . . . Fears are expressed of danger, because of the wind, in crossing the Dale Creek bridge — 650 feet long and 126 feet high — spanning Dale Creek from bluff to bluff. . . . We reached the summit. The extra engine was removed. We are upon an elevation of 7,857 feet. No steam is required at this point to forward the train, for the downgrade is sufficient for us to glide swiftly along.

As we near Ogden the scenery becomes more interesting. . . . There are grand, high mountains towering toward heaven, while these are interspersed with mountains of less size. As far as the eye can see them mountaintops rise above mountains, peak above peak, ridge on ridge, intermingled, while the snow-capped heights glitter under the rays of sunlight, looking surpassingly lovely. As we looked at the varying beauty of this Rocky Mountain scenery, we were deeply impressed with the greatness and majesty of God. We long to have a little time to view at leisure the grand and sublime scenery which speaks to our senses of the power of God who made the world and all things that are therein. . . .

Between Ogden and Sacramento the eye is constantly delighted with the wonderful scenery. Mountains of every conceivable form and dimension appear. Some are smooth and regular in shape, while others are rough, huge granite mountains, their peaks stretching heavenward as though pointing upward to the God of nature. There are blocks of smooth, time-worn rock, piled one above another, looking as though squared and chiseled by instruments in skillful hands.

There are high overhanging cliffs, gray old crags and gorges clad with pines, continually presenting to our senses scenery of new interest. We come to the Devil’s Slide. There are flat rocks set up like gravestones of nearly equal depth running from the river up the mountainside far above us a quarter of a mile, which mountain is covered with grass and shrubs. The stones are from fifty to two hundred feet high, standing upon their edge as though malletted into the rocky mountain. There are two stone walls about ten feet apart of this masonry. The space between is covered with green foliage. It is a most interesting and wonderful sight. — Letter 18, 1873.

The Rocky Mountains

We have been passing over the plains, through a very barren, desolate looking country. . . . But on we go and the engine toils up, up, up against the most fearful wind we ever experienced. . . . Fears are expressed that there is danger of crossing the bridge which spans Dale Creek from bluff to bluff. It is 650 feet long and 120 feet high. In the providence of God the wind decreased its fearful wail to a piteous sob and sigh and we went safely over. The summit is gained and now we pass through a tunnel excavated through the rocky mountain. . . .

As we near Ogden we have a change of scenery. . . . There are grand mountains and wonderful, towering mountains of masonry, filling our hearts with awe and wonder. . . .

I hesitate whether to place my pen upon paper to give you even the faintest, slightest description of the wild, romantic scenery of the Rocky Mountains. Immense mountain tops rise above mountains. Some mountains of lesser dimensions are wavy and appear smooth and regular in shape. Mountains of masonry have the appearance of being hewed, squared, chiseled, and polished by art and piled one above another in grand towers, stretching upward toward heaven as though directing the minds of all who look upon them to God.

Then we see abrupt bluffs and singular shaped rocks of every form, huge and without comeliness, having the appearance as though thrown together in most beautiful disorder. We come to a wall of rocks, flat and broad as though chiseled from the quarry and arranged by art, one flat stone overlapping another, two walls almost exactly similar about six feet apart, running straight up the steep sides of the rocky mountains for one-quarter of a mile. This strange piece of masonry is called the Devil’s Slide. — Letter 19, 1873.

From Cheyenne two engines are slowly dragging the cars up the mountain to Sherman, against a fearful wind, on account of which fears of danger are expressed in crossing Dale Creek bridge, 650 feet long and 120 feet high, which spans Dale Creek from bluff to bluff. . . .

As we near Ogden the scenery changes. . . . Here are grand mountains towering toward heaven, and mountains of lesser size. Mountaintops rise above mountaintops, peak above peak, ridge above ridge, while the snow-capped heights, glittering under the rays of sunlight look surpassingly lovely. We were deeply impressed as we looked at the varying beauty of this Rocky Mountain scenery. We longed to have a little time to view at leisure the grand and sublime scenery which speaks to our senses of the power of God who made the world and all things that are therein. But a glance only at the wondrous, sublime beauty around us is all we can enjoy.

Between Ogden and Sacramento the eye is constantly delighted with the ever-new scenery. Mountains of every conceivable form and dimension appear. Some are smooth and regular in shape, while others are rough, huge, granite mountains, their peaks stretching heavenward as though pointing up to the God of nature.

There are blocks of timeworn rocks, piled one above another, looking smooth, as though squared and chiseled by instruments in skillful hands. There are high, overhanging cliffs, gray old crags and gorges clad with pines, presenting to our senses scenery of new interest continually.

We come to Devil’s Slide. Here are flat rocks set up like gravestones of nearly equal depth, running from the river up the mountainside a quarter of a mile above us. The stones are from fifty to one hundred feet high. — Letter 20, 1873.

Green River Formations

At Green River is the place where specimens of fossils, petrifications and general natural curiosities are seen. Shells and wood in a petrified state can be purchased for a trifle. There is a high projecting rock, in appearance like a tower, and there are twin rocks of gigantic proportions. The appearance of these rocks is as though some great temple once stood there and their massive pillars were left standing as witnesses of their former greatness. There is a rock called Giant’s Club, and in proportion it is a giant. It rises almost perpendicularly and it is impossible to climb up its steep sides. This is one of nature’s curiosities. I was told that its composition bears evidence of its once having been located in the bottom of a lake. This rock has regular strata, all horizontal, containing fossils of plants and of fish and curiously shaped specimens of sea animals. The plants appear like our fruit and forest trees. There are ferns and palms. The fishes seem to be of a species now extinct. A large flat stone was shown us in which were distinct specimens of fish and curious leaves. The proprietor told us, on a previous trip, that he brought these two large rocks on horseback eight miles. The rock did not look so far, but he said that was the distance to get access to it. In these split-off slabs of rock there were feathers of birds and other curiosities plainly to be seen.

We looked with curious interest upon rocks composed of sandstone in perfectly horizontal strata containing most interesting remains. These rocks assume most curious and fantastic shapes, as if chiseled out by the hand of art. These are in lofty domes and pinnacles and fluted columns. These rocks resemble some cathedral of ancient date standing in desolation. The imagination here has a fruitful field in which to range. In the vicinity of these rocks are moss agates. When standing at a distance from these wonderfully shaped rocks you may imagine some ruined city, bare and desolate, but bearing its silent witness to what once was. — Letter 6a, 1880.

Battlements That Have Stood Since the Flood

The scenery through which we passed was altogether too majestic, too awfully grand, to give anything like a description that can compare to the scenery as it really is. The battlements of rocks — the time-worn rocky walls that have stood since the flood, washed with the mountain torrents — stand out smooth as if polished, while rocks diverse from these in shape are seen in regular layers as if art had fashioned them. Here . . . we viewed the most interesting, grand scenery that our eyes ever looked upon. The rocks ascend higher and still higher from the earth and growing from these rocks are beautiful, dark-colored pines intermingled with the lighter and most beautiful, living green of the maple and beech. . . .

Such wild grandeur, such solemn scenery, carries one back to the period when the waters rose to the highest points of land, and the unbelieving antediluvians perished for their great wickedness in the waters of the flood.

As we looked upon the openings in these rocks — the caverns that open to the sight, the deep channels worn by the mighty cataracts — and the rocks of every conceivable shape, we say, “How wonderful, O Lord, are Thy works in all the earth.” The softening, subduing touches penciled by the great Master Artist in the beautiful arrangement of dress of dark and living green, this beautiful combination of colors to cover the rugged, time-seamed rocks! Then the deep gorges, the noisy, fast-rushing streams, and the grand mountains covered with forest trees in their beautiful summer robes! The view is grand in the extreme, and presents to the senses such high and holy and strong and sacred ideas of God our Maker. . . .

If anyone can look upon this scenery without being impressed with the greatness and majesty of God, his heart must indeed be unimpressible. — Ms. 56, 1886. (Part in That I May Know Him, p. 146.)