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For the five years 1920-1924, inclusive, of the miles flown over regularly operated air routes, 26.6 per cent were in the United States, 4.4 per cent in


Colombia and Australia, and

the remaining 69 per

cent in Europe, with 31.9 per




and 13.9 per cent in England.

There is a man, a stranger to me, who ought to make a flight over this country. He is the one who is reported to have said that if he owned Hades and Texas, he would rent Texas and live in Hades. At one place on our course, so "Tex" Marshall declares, it is 50 miles by trail to the nearest sheepherder's hut or miner's cabin-and no trail!

Almost every range between Salt Lake and Reno has made its bitter comment upon the progress of the mail, though, happily, no fatalities have resulted.



One winter morning Scott was hugging the Southern Pacific tracks, tearing along through the flying snow, when his ribbony guide disappeared in a tunnel and the wall of the mountain rose up sheer before him.

It was too late to turn. Pulling back hard on the control stick and jamming the throttle wide open, he just managed to zoom over the saddle. As he scraped the top, his tail skid uprooted a large clump of sagebrush; and there it hung under the fuselage, all the way to Salt Lake. Still, this land is not wholly devoid of beauty. As the Arabs say of the Sahara, "There is heaven above."

Some of the scarred desert hills are marvelously tinted with all the colors of autumn woods; and once, as we detoured around a heavy rain squall, I thought we had discovered the pot of gold that lies at the end of the rainbow. On drawing closer I saw that that which glistened there was only alkaline salt.

Across the whole length of the western sky, in the glow of the sinking sun, hung the white crown of the Sierras, "the eastern wall of the land of gold," while in the fertile Truckee meadows at its base we made out Reno, the last stop between us and our goal.

Then came the great day. Straight toward the mountains we headed, following Truckee Canyon. As we

climbed higher and higher, fresh beauty streamed into view and the grand, massive uplift of the Sierras spread out in all its ineffable glory.

I wonder if in all the world there is another range so sublime and yet so accessible.

Deep in a girdle of snow-mantled peaks lay the broad blue expanse of Lake Tahoe, its distant shore hidden under the dense shadow of a thunderstorm. The towering columns of the clouds pressed forward in noiseless tumult, dragging their rain-drenched skirts across the mountain tops, while we fled westward, seeking the pass before the storm should intercept us.


Just in the nick of time we slipped through a 9,000-foot saddle into Rubicon Canyon; and, as we passed, a great forked arrow of lightning crashed into the mountain side near by, throwing out a weird violet light, as if in sullen rage at our escape. We were over "The Hump" at last!

Below us Rubicon River leaped in wild abandon down the rocky steps of its canyon, while the pinnacles of the Sierras receded eastward, sharply silhouetted against the storm. A glorious, iridescent rainbow ring formed in the spray at the head of a cascade and, plunging over the ledge with us, slid down the waterfall to vanish in a deep pool at its base.

Far ahead, beyond the dark forest zone, we could see a yellow, hazy belt that marked the broad valley of the Sacramento, the "Grand Central Garden," as John Muir called it.

I squirmed around in the cockpit to point out some fresh marvel to Peter,

and found him hanging over the side of the fuselage, lost in wonder and amazement. His Cheshire grin relaxed only for an instant, as he leaned forward to shout exultantly above the roar of the engine, "California, we are here!"

In a brief hour our long-dreamed-of goal lay spread before us. The vast basin of San Francisco Bay, beaten with dry sunshine, glistened and sparkled in its hilly crad'e. Little ferryboats scampered across the water, trailing tiny white streamers of foam, and through the Golden Gate came floating long, lazy wisps of fog.

At the foot of the Presidio hill, beyond a thick carpet of buildings, lay the field. As our wheels touched the sandy ground, Pete gave a mighty shout, and the plane had scarcely stopped rolling before we both rose in our cockpits and, leaning across the windshield, solemnly shook hands!


Such a vision of America as had been accorded us! Such an overwhelming revelation of the wonder and majesty of our national heritage! With it our faith in perfection had passed into vision.

We had trailed the elusive West to its last retreat, and had found that the West is not a place only a stage of progress: everywhere one people, one civilization, one spirit, one all-embracing sense of nationality.

We had followed the Mail to its farthest outpost; had shared its joys and some of its dangers; and we felt, after the manner of the Romans, that perchance we could join the Mail pilot in his proud boast, Civis aerius sum—“I am a citizen of the air!"

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THE FIRST LADY OF THE LAND RELEASES A HOMING PIGEON "I wish the Cleveland Show all possible success" was the message which this 500-mile prize-winning Racing Homer bore from Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, standing on the portico of the White House, Washington, to the annual show held by the Poultry and Pigeon Fanciers' Association in Cleveland, Ohio.


Peoples of Every Clime and Age Have Lavished Care and Affection Upon Lovely Pigeons



With Illustrations in Color from Paintings by Hashime Murayama

AVEN before the dawn of history

the breeding of fancy and racing pigeons was one of the favorite pursuits of man. Wherever historians delve and archæologists dig they find evidence of the interest of men of olden days in pigeons. That interest, in our own age of steam, electricity, and chemistry, seems to be growing.

There is a fascination about these birds that makes it possible for men and women in all stations of life to enjoy them. To some persons the breeding of pigeons opens the road along which to pursue an ideal, the ideal of beauty, in one of its highest forms.

Not all of us are artists, capable, by the use of brush and palette, of catching for a moment impressions of personality and of atmosphere which impregnate great canvases; but those of us who love pigeons have an opportunity to create something essentially satisfying through the infinite variety in which their colors may be blended.



No one knows how many varieties of pigeons are being bred in the world today, or how many have been bred and abandoned in the past, but it is estimated that of the fancy birds alone there are upward of 200 distinct kinds, and it is known that many of these have innumerable subdivisions, where the type is the same but the coloring of each is different.

In addition to fancy pigeons, where type and color make the variety and its subclasses, there are racing pigeons and utility pigeons. The latter are reared in large numbers, principally for food purposes, although during the last few years breeders have discovered that a purely utilitarian bird may be bred for beauty.

Finally, there are the Common pigeons, to be found in barn lofts, church steeples, and public parks and plazas the world over (see Color Plate II).

The great square in Venice in front of the Cathedral of Saint Mark, which is dominated by the Campanile and flanked by the Palace of the Doges, is perhaps the most celebrated public square in the world for its pigeons. In the snapshot album of nearly every tourist who has visited the City of Canals, there is a picture of the traveler feeding these birds before Saint Mark's (see page 83).

Madison Square, New York; the steps of Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, from which an effort is now being made to bar these birds, and Lafayette Square, in Washington, are other famous congregating centers for the world's pigeon population (see pages 86, 87, 110).


It is difficult for a pigeon fancier to analyze and describe the reasons for his strong attachment for these birds. The writer still recalls his first impression of them, nearly thirty years ago, when he saw the timid, white creatures, their dainty red feet folded back under their breasts as they flew overhead, in an old country woodshed.

From that moment birds of all kinds, but pigeons more especially, have held a place of deep affection in his heart.


This sentiment is far from unique. Wordsworth experienced it one day while walking through his favorite forest. dove was singing to its mate. The great poet of Nature paused to listen, and then, in the spirit of the moment, recorded his thoughts:

I heard a stock-dove sing or say
His homely tale, this very day;
His voice was buried among trees,

Yet to be come at by the breeze;

He did not cease, but cooed and cooed,
And somewhat pensively he wooed;
He sang of love, with quiet blending,
Slow to begin and never ending;
Of serious faith and inward glee,
That was the song, the song for me.

But Wordsworth was not the first poet to write of his love for pigeons. The Psalmists sang of them; Anacreon sang of them; Juvenal, Shakespeare, Mrs. Browning, Moore, and many others have recorded their love of pigeons in verse that will endure for all time. Some of the most charming strains of Liza Lehmann's song cycles are those which seek to convey through music the sheer beauty of pigeons.


Literature, legend, and history are rich in pigeon lore and in all the records of warfare, there is nothing more stirring than the accomplishments of our own little feathered warriors in the great World War.

In legend, there is nothing more beautiful to a pigeon fancier than the story of the dove which brought to Noah the message that the great flood had subsided. According to the Arabs, this bird, after carrying to the Ark the olive branch signifying that the waters were falling, flew away on a second trip, from which it returned with traces of red mud on its feet, thereby proving that it had been able to alight on the ground; and, as a result of this information, Noah prayed that the feet of these birds might forever continue of that reddish color. Noah's prayer must have been heard, for the feet of all pigeons to this day are red!

We learn from Xenophon's "Anabasis" that the love of pigeons was widespread in those parts of the world which the Greek army traversed. We also learn from the great Roman historian and naturalist, Pliny, that ancient Rome was as keen about these birds as is modern Belgium.

Pliny tells of Lucius Axius, who was celebrated because of the quality of his birds and also for the high prices which they commanded-often as much as the equivalent of $75 a pair.

That price seemed high to Pliny, but a

few months ago a Racing Homer brought more than $1,300 at auction in England. Since that time an American fancier imported a black Tumbler cock for which he paid $1,000, and I myself have paid more than the old Roman's price for a pair of birds, and have also refused more than six times his price for one of my own breeding.


Probably the best-known pigeon fancier in the world to-day is King George of England, whose lofts at Sandringham contain the finest racing specimens obtainable. From those lofts birds have gone into many humble English homes, accompanied by the sovereign's best wishes, there to produce winners for their modest owners. His Majesty's grandmother, Queen Victoria, was also an ardent fancier, visiting pigeon shows whenever possible and spending many hours in her aviary.

Queen Victoria prized the Jacobin (see Color Plate IV) above all other varieties and made a point of obtaining outstanding specimens from time to time to improve her own birds. She did not compete in the shows, but Jacobin fanciers sent some of their best birds to her lofts and frequently received for their own even better individuals, produced under the Queen's loving supervision.

Thousands of years before the days of King George, another king, Rameses III of Egypt, gloried in his donations of pigeons to the temples of Thebes, Heliopolis, and Memphis. Since his time, down to the present, the Orient, especially Mohammedan countries, has regarded pigeons as sacred. Only recently a riot occurred in Bombay because some Europeans killed the revered pigeons in one of the city squares (see illustration, page 102).


In Belgium, pigeon racing is the national sport, in which as many Belgians, in proportion to the country's population, are as keenly interested as are Americans in baseball, football, golf, or horse racing. The Grand National of Belgium, in which pigeon fanciers from all parts of the country participate, provokes far more interest

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