General Letter No.3


ALL OFFICES AND STORES.                                              5-8-16.   1. 


Pasadena, California, Monday, May 1, 1916.

We have been in the “Glorious Climate of California” 10 days and I shall try to give a hurried description of what we have seen since we left the level plains or prairies of Kansas.

Before going into deep earnest details of what has occurred I hope you will pardon me for taking you back to Tennessee and St. Louis, as we find Mr. Albright and myself overlooked two interesting things that we saw.

First, let me take you back to our auto ride from Morristown, Tenn. to Tate Springs, the day after we left New York. We were riding along pleasantly over a fairly good road when our car came to the bank of a wide swiftly running river and our car was run on to raft (you cannot call it anything else) and we wondered how we were to cross that rapid running river as the ferry (raft) had no motor or engine and not even an endless chain to draw us across, yet were no sooner on the raft than it commenced to move. An old man cranking a wheel on one side, yet his efforts were so mild that we could not see where the power came from until we saw a long wire running from the raft, to another wire suspended from a big tree on one side of the river, to one on the other, and our wire was connected to it. Now, where was the propelling force that was gradually and surely taking us across? I have travelled many hundreds of thousands of in auto, and this was a new one to us, but the mystery was soon solved when we discovered our raft was not going directly across, but the force of the current in the river struck the side of our raft diagonally, and the connections of our wire to the present wire by a pulley did the work, and we landed on the other side quickly and safely, and the same operation was worked when we returned the next day. This mode of transfer across the river has been in operation for over 40 years.

Mr. Albright forgot to mention in his letter our visit to the Public Library in St. Louis, which Mr. Cass Gilbert, the architect of the Woolworth Building, had described to me so often, as he was the architect of the library. It is a very handsome building but you could never believe the same architect did the work that made the Woolworth Building so handsome, as the style was entirely different, but just as handsome in its way.

Mr. Albright described better than I can our pleasant time in St. Louis and our route into the farms of Kansas up to Hutchinson.   Up to this place we had not reached any high elevations. The farther west we traveled, the less settled was the country. When we reached Dodge City our time was changed from Central to Mountain time and we set our watches back one hour at 5-45 p.m. At Dodge City the altitude is 2,516 ft. At 10-45 p.m. we were at la Junta, Colo., altitude 4,045 ft. We passed the Rocky Ford region where all the good cantelopes grow.  After leaving La Junta we commenced to climb and our train was over a mile above the sea all night, and at Wooton, Colo. we had reached an altitude of 7,526 ft.  above the sea. We got into Las Vegas, New Mexico (6,383 ft.) at 6-25 a.m. and we were over a mile high all day with a few exceptions.


EXECUTIVE OFFICE                          2. 

GENERAL LETTER NO. 3, CT’D,                                                                                      5-8-16.

We arrived at Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 11 a.m. and we had half an hour there and we went up to our store there which we found in fine condition and good location in a city of 30,000 people. Our manager, Mr. Price, was a bright young man fully capable to run this store. He told us 70% of his customers were Mexicans and we certainly saw a few there. At the stations they have an exhibition of Indian and Mexican wares, very interesting. The Santa Fe R. R. machine shops are located here. The Santa Fe R. R. handle 350,000 animals yearly and this is evidently a stock raising community, but we could not see what the cattle fed upon.

At 7-15 p.m. we were at Winslow, Arizona where we were
to change sleeping cars for the Grand Canyon.   We were still 4,848 ft.
above the sea. I suppose the least I have to say about the scenery and
country we passed through after leaving Kansas, the better. The country as a whole is very uninteresting; comparatively a few towns and practically a barren waste of arid lands, which some day may bloom forth with the help of irrigation, but it looks very doubtful.   The railroad literature describes in detail every little station and names the population if only 25 persons there.   We have noted as soon as we get west of the Mississippi River the natives do not intend you to miss any interesting feature, no matter what it is.   They have the habit of saying, “The largest in the world” – “The greatest in the world,” etc.   They do not say, “The largest in the State,” “The largest in the country,” “The largest on the continent,” but “The World” suits them better.   The porter at our hotel to-day was asked why they did not have a thermometer in the hotel. His reply was, “We don’t want people to know how hot or cold it is.” We went across the street and found it was 81 in the shade.

We were recommended by our friends and other people, to travel on the Santa Fe R. R. to the coast as it was considered the best. When we got on the train at Kansas City we expected something unusual, but found the famous California Limited was just an ordinary Pullman Car train with observation coach on the rear, same as we have been accustomed to for years. The Harvey System of dining car and station restaurant service was far ahead of any system in use in the country and I will admit it is far above the average, yet no better than we found on the Southern R. R. Breakfast and lunch A-la-Carte are fine but the Table d’Hote dinner at night we found only fair and some would call it bad. Everyone is agreeable and polite and anxious to please, which helps some. The Pullman conductor was the only one who was not so agreeable and insisted we should have our berths made up when we took the car at Winslow at 7-30 p.m., and lo and behold, they were all made up when we got there and we had to go in another car until bed time. The porter in this car was as lazy as they make them. We were switched off at Williams at 10-30 p.m. and layed there until 4-30 a.m. and arrived at Grand Canyon 7-45 a.m. Left same night 7-30 and found berths all made up again and he would not take them down next morning until after 9 o’clock. He was one of those porters that was always busy and never did anything until he had to and passengers could wait on themselves. He was one of the kind who did not care to answer bells or look after the wants of the passengers until just before they got 



GENERAL LETTER NO.3 CT’D.                       5-8-16    3.

off when he was very obliging and would hold out his itching palm for his tip. One old lady asked him if he did not get tired going to the Grand Canyon so often: “Yes, oh yes, he was very tired of it,” and no doubt he told the truth once. No doubt he did get tired of the complaints of them all. Furthermore, we had an old style dirty sleeping car made of wood, which was unusual for us. 


No doubt you have all read about this natural wonder of nature and I cannot describe it in a way that will interest you after so much has been written about it. As far as I was concerned, I had read so much and had seen so many pictures of it, I was prepared for a disappointment. Yet everything that has been said or written about it is about correct, but of course one must see in order to believe. The elevation is 7,000 ft, above the sea, or in other words the height of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, Its height is not a feature, however, of its wonder. The great gorge 217 miles long and from 9 to 13 miles wide apparently cut out of a level plain or prairie, from the rim of the Canyon to the river below is about 6,000 ft. It was discovered in 1540 by Spanish explorers, and the first white man to go down the river was Major J. W. Powell from its source to its mouth in 1869. Only once or twice since has a white man run through it successfully and he had a thrilling experience. The cause of this wonder is in prehistoric times the river cut a way through the plain, through soft red sandstone and earth, and scientists tell us it is impossible to definitely know how old it is, but presumably eight million years ago. The river is still at work digging the chasm deeper, at the rate of about an inch a year.

When we alighted from the train we ascended a long flight of steps to the hotel which nearly exhausted us on account of the lightness of the air, caused by the high altitude. The Harvey System have erected a fine hotel here called El Tova at a cost of $350,000,built of pine logs in rustic style and will accommodate 300 people, and well run. We had a fine breakfast and then ventured to the rim of the chasm only a few feet from the hotel and it is a grand sight and just about as I had pictured it. The Canyon is 13 miles wide here and looks about two miles, and the river here is over 5,000 ft. below (about a mile). The grotesque forms the elements have made of rocks and the earth are beyond my pen to describe. They say it is the only awe-inspiring thing Theodore Roosevelt ever saw and he has faced some natural scenery as well as National Conventions, wild beasts, audiences, and the crowned heads of Europe. We took a drive with an old man 8 miles on the “rim” of the Canyon and he gave us a graphic description of this freak of nature.    “Awful,” “wonderful,” “grand,” are only common words when applied to the Grand Canyon. “Sublime” is a more appropriate name.  The weather was beautiful and we were told we were fortunate as they have some awful storms there as trees all along the read had been up-rooted only a few weeks before, and 2 weeks before we were there the snow was 3 ft. deep. We could not keep our eyes off this grand sight all afternoon and see the change of light and shadows when the sun was going down on this bright red cavern or so-called Canyon. Mayor Mitchell of New York was there this Spring and our driver said he got

GENERAL LETTER NO.3, CT’D                  5.8.16        4.

out on a prominent place and looked down in the abyss below and made the remark “All New York City could be dumped down there and there would be nothing but a lot of junk at the bottom and practically unnoticed.” The air has a deathlike stillness and. one is not worried about the things of this earth, but wonder at the works of nature. Our driver said the most striking thing at the Canyon is. to see a thunder shower in the Canyon far below when it is sunshine above. Another weird sight is the Canyon filled with fog and sunshine above and it would, appear one could cross in a boat. The yellow red river below looks so small you can hardly believe it to be-a raging torrent very deep, wide and rapid. He told of a young man he took down to the river once that wanted to bath in the red water and he stripped and succeeded in swimming across, but on his return he was nearly drowned as the red clay stuck to his body nearly an inch thick and pulled him  down with its weight. The water is 43% sand and clay and no fish can live in it.

We visited moving picture show in the afternoon operated by Mr.Kolb, (a man who had been down the river same as Major Powell had) and he got some excellent still and moving views of the scenery and the rapid running river, and he told of his thrilling experience and we wonder that he came through alive.

Mrs. Albright and myself were so affected by the altitude and the air we could not enjoy it as much as we would like and we were glad when the train was ready to take us down to lower altitude.

Some of the colored pictures you see of the Grand Canyon exaggerate the colors and make one believe it is all colors of the rainbow  but we have no doubt at times it does look more interesting than when we saw it.


Friday, April 21st.We were on our last day to reach California and Los Angeles our destination.

When we awoke the same arid and desolate region repeated itself as we saw in New Mexico and Arizona only seemed to be worse. But what an awful waste of desert land with only a few Indians here and there in their native costume with long flowing black hair, astride a horse, just as used to be described in the dime novels 50 years ago, which I used to like to read so well. Then there were cowboys around the stations.

We finally reached Needles, California at 3-25 a.m., altitude only 476 ft. The first time in California but of course too early for us to see or be up. We finally arrived at Barstow about 9 o’clock, a city in the desert of 1,000 people only, but a very large and handsome station with honeysuckle arbor and we could not understand such a waste of good money, but this was a junction where trains divide, one section going on to San Francisco, and the other to Los Angeles   Here the altitude is 2,105 ft.


GENERAL LETTER NO.3 CT’D.             5.8.16        5.

After leaving Barstow we climbed over a pass through the high mountains to Summit, 3,820 ft. high and soon got sight of “Old Baldy,” 10,080 ft. above the sea, covered with snow. The desert we passed through had plenty of wild cactus, sage brush, and a few unpleasant things to look at. After going over the pass we came down in the hot climate of San Bernardino, 1,077 ft. high, population 18,500, and we have a store there but did not have time to visit it. I wanted an orange for breakfast on the train this morning but they did not have any and we are on the edge of the Orange Belt of southern California. Here we were relieved from the monotonous arid desert by the farmer’s valley of San Bernardino, with thousands of orange trees on each side of the track, and at last we were in the glorious climate of southern California. We were tired, very tired, but the trip of two hours through these very fine orange groves was the most pleasant part of our journey. The weather was warmer and we had to have our car windows open and the dust and sand made us anything but pleasant to look at when we arrived at Pasadena, 3-10 p.m., and were astonished when we got off the train to find Mr. W.J. Rand, Jnr. (the manager of our San Francisco Office, that has charge of our Pacific coast stores) meet us and give us the glad hand. We supposed he knew nothing about our trip to the coast but he got a tip from someone and here he was to meet us and welcome us to California. Mr. Blatterman, District Superintendent in San Francisco Office, and Mr. Stevens, manager of Pasadena store, were with Mr. Rand. We did not go through to Los Angeles as we expected but preferred to stop here, as this is only 10 miles from Los Angeles and a quieter place to stop. We are staying at Hotel Maryland as all other big hotels are closed and we are very comfortably located in a cottage and feel very much at home.

In our next we shall try and give you an unbiased opinion of what we think f southern California. We have been here 11 days and leave to-morrow for San Francisco by auto, 3 days trip, 420 miles.

        Yours truly,



(1150      Copies)

P.S – Since receiving the above general letter we have received the following telegram:

San Francisco, Calif, May 7, 1916

F.W.Woolworth Co.

Woolworth Building, New York

Leave San Francisco Tuesday for Seattle. Chicago Monday morning. Will try to be in Watertown Tuesday night. Send Mail Chicago Office. Rand will go with us to Portland and Seattle. Weather cold and windy here. Rand has entertained us wonderfully. Will lunch with Banker Crocker Monday. Notify daughters.


Mr. H. T. Parson received a postal card addressed just to “Woolworth Building” and Mr. L.C. Haynes received one addressed “Highest Building in the World” from the Woolworth party. Both these cards came through without any delay.


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