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Thread: Books about the early West

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    Default Books about the early West

    In learning about ghost towns, I like to get an idea of how the former inhabitants lived, how they got there, etc.

    What are your favorite books that give first-hand accounts of life in the good ol' days?

    I'm currently reading through The City of the Saints: and Across the Rocky Mountains to California‎. Good stuff!

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    I just finished reading The Story of Inyo by W. A. Chalphant. This coincided with my trip to Cerro Gordo and the salt tram last weekend. We were up above 9,000 feet in the Inyo Mountains across the Owens valley from Mt. Whitney and the Sierras. It was a very good read and a great trip.

    NJ






    Last edited by Norman Johnson; 10-15-2009 at 01:51 PM.
    "I got four things to live by: Don't say nothing that will hurt anybody. Don't give advice--nobody will take it anyway. Don't complain. Don't explain." Death Valley Scotty Walter Scott 1872-1954

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    Good stuff NJ. Your photography is superb.
    Don Winslow
    Glendora, California
    Ghost Town Web site:http://www.donwinslow.net/Ghost%20Towns.html

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    Great pics, NJ. Thanks...........Speedy

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    There are literally tens of thousands of great books about contemporaneous life in the 1800's west that can 'transport' you back to the era. You should start by checking out US western history book sellers web sites. While there are plenty of collectors & antique books out there, many of the 'classic' titles have remained in print through the likes of the University of Oklahoma & University of Nebraska press. Also, in the last couple decades there has been a large academic interest in the collecting, assembling, and publishing of personal experiences & reminisces of 'common' people; the workers, women, minorities, and so on.

    Several of my favorites include 'The Life Of An Ordinary Woman' by Anne Ellis who, in the 1930's, wrote of her day to day life in mining regions of Colorado and Nevada. Another is 'Forty Miles A Day On Beans and Hay' by Donald Rickey, which is the reminisces of enlisted US army soldiers who served in the frontier west from the 1860's thru the 1890's. It paints a far different picture than that portrayed in the Hollywood and John Wayne movies!

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    Yes, the list of possibilities is quite long. I'll just dash off a few favorites.

    On Arizona; "With their own blood", Virginia Culin Roberts. A bio of Larcena Pennington & her family. The central event being Larcena's capture by Apaches. She was unable to keep up so she was lanced 11 times, thrown over a cliff & left for dead, which she wasn't. With nothing to wear but her bloomers she survived on roots & snow for the 2 weeks it took her to crawl back to her husbands lumber camp in the Santa Rita mts. Very well written.

    "A tour through Arizona, adventures in the Apache country", J. Ross Browne. In 1864 Browne takes in Arizona & Sonora with expert guide Charles Poston. Browne's a cheeky monkey, mucho' fun.

    "Up & down California in 1860-1864". The journal of William H. Brewer. From L. A. to the Sierras & Yosemite, much of it on foot. Brewer was a member of the first geological survey team in CA. Written with humor & much affection for his subject.

    "My girlhood among outlaws," Lily Klasner.
    Growing up in southern New Mexico with contemperaries such as Billy the Kid. You can imagine the possibilities here.

    Best for last. "Blood & Thunder," Hampton Sides. Not intended as a bio of Kit Carson it could be considered as such. This is not just a book, it's a time machine, reads like a novel. Much detail on the Navajo wars. Since I have it off the shelf I'll read it again, (3rd time).

    BTW, Very nice shootin' NJ, love those long shots.

    <
    Last edited by Vulture; 09-16-2009 at 11:51 AM.
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    If you like the last three photo's, I owe that to Sunrise. He gave me some excellent post-production advice which worked well on those three.

    NJ
    "I got four things to live by: Don't say nothing that will hurt anybody. Don't give advice--nobody will take it anyway. Don't complain. Don't explain." Death Valley Scotty Walter Scott 1872-1954

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Johnson View Post
    If you like the last three photo's, I owe that to Sunrise. He gave me some excellent post-production advice which worked well on those three.

    NJ
    Very nice, indeed.

    How long of a focal length did you use on the Mt. Whitney shot?

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    Here is Sir Richard Francis Burton's appraisal of the land on which a number of our favorite ghost towns would be built:

    From the summit of the Wasach range to the eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada, the whole region, with exceptions, is a howling wilderness, the sole or bed of an inland sweetwater sea, now shrunk into its remnants-- the Great Salt and the Utah Lakes. Nothing can be more monotonous than its regular succession of high grisly hills cut perpendicularly by rough and rocky ravines, and separating bare and barren plains.

    Doesn't sound too pleasant, does it?

    I'll look for a copy of "Up & down California in 1860-1864". It sounds like an interesting book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shirohniichan View Post
    Here is Sir Richard Francis Burton's appraisal of the land on which a number of our favorite ghost towns would be built:

    From the summit of the Wasach range to the eastern foot of the Sierra Nevada, the whole region, with exceptions, is a howling wilderness, the sole or bed of an inland sweetwater sea, now shrunk into its remnants-- the Great Salt and the Utah Lakes. Nothing can be more monotonous than its regular succession of high grisly hills cut perpendicularly by rough and rocky ravines, and separating bare and barren plains.

    Doesn't sound too pleasant, does it?

    I'll look for a copy of "Up & down California in 1860-1864". It sounds like an interesting book.
    Well not everybody appreciated the beauty in the American southwest. It is monotonous in places. I was in Nevada in 00' probably somewhere betweed Austin & Eureka & pulled over to take in the view. The road was perfectly straight & I could see maybe 40 miles, got out the binocs...couldn't see another car. I was there about 20 minutes, loved it, absolutely silent.

    Up & down in CA has been through a few editions, not all of which include the maps The route can be followed on a more modern atlas, but I belive you can't have too many maps.

    <
    "The good things a person needs-stubbornness, thinking for himself-don't make him a useful member of society. What makes him useful is to be half dead." Sylvan Hart

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