Sunday, June 5, 2011

Westward Ho!

Every bibliophile sooner or later gravitates toward some topic that defines who they are.  Roads west were one of my first interests.  In 1919, my maternal grandfather found three foolhardy friends and drove from Ohio to California in a 1915 FIAT.  This was still an adventure and in the days when there were still essentially wagon trails and very few paved roads.  I was captivated by the journal he left behind and retraced the trip 70 years later and tried to publish a book about the adventure.  The book never made it into print but the interest in roads west has always been strong.  I keep thinking I'll return to it and finish the job of publishing a book on my westward retracing.  

1.  The Oregon Trail, Francis Parkman, Illustrated by Thomas Hart Benton (1946).   A classic story of pioneers pulled westward.  The Oregon trail set the scene for others to come west.  Parkman himself lived among native American tribes for a summer following their rituals.  

2.  Boulevarded Old Trails in the Great Southwest, Frank H. Trego (1929).  An obscure book outlining what can best be described as an amble through Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.  Bought used can't remember where; stamped, "No longer property of of the Pottsville Public Library."  

3.  The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends and Lore, David Dary (2000).  Firsthand accounts from Native Americans, mountain men, traders, trappers and soldiers of the Santa Fe trail and its long history from 1610 to the 1860s.  A backbone of travel from Missouri to Santa Fe.  Bought new.

The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends, and Lore

4.  The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West, David Haward Bain (2004).  Bain travels from Kansas City to San Francisco in search of vanishing railroads, wagon wheel ruts and vestiges of the pioneers looking to capture the spirit of America adventure and its pull west.  Bought used at BJ's Books, Warrenton, VA.

The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West

5.  Roads of Destiny: The Trails That Shaped a Nation, Doughlas Waitley (1970).  Waitley studied 22 waterways, trails and roads that played in the expansion of Colonial America to the Mississippi.  The trails took Americans further west and helped shape our early ideas of Manifest Destiny.  Bought used--where I don't know.

6.  American Road: The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Down of the Motor Age, Peter Davies (2002).   Today, driving across country can be an seamless three-day cruise on the Interstate.  The year after WWI, the US Army needed two month to show it could successfully conduct a motorized convoy coast to coast.   A young colonel, Dwight Eisenhower lead the effort which later left a strong impression on him as President when he advocated for the building of the interstate highway system.  The convoy made its crossing only a few months before my grandfather.   Bought new.

American Road: The Story of an Epic Transcontinental Journey at the Dawn of the Motor Age 

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