Long Day's Journey: The Steamboat and Stagecoach Era in the Northern West

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9780295976914: Long Day's Journey: The Steamboat and Stagecoach Era in the Northern West
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In Long Day’s Journey Carlos Schwantes gathers historical photographs, advertisements, posters, and contemporary accounts to recreate one of the most colorful periods in the American West. He traces the rapidly evolving saga of miners and settlers struggling to get from here to there in the days before railroads reached the West, trying to establish methods of transportation and communication between the eastern United States and the new territories that became Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming―first by sea, around continents, then by land and water routes across America. Many of the enduring images and myths of the West derive from this era: the Pony Express, mule trains and plodding ox-team freighters, the picturesque side-wheelers and stern-wheelers that churned along the rivers, the colorful Concord stagecoaches drawn by four or six jingling, fleet horses.

Schwantes describes in detail the technology of preindustrial modes of transportation. He explains the economics that linked the birth and death of western towns and cities, the business history of entrepreneurs and stagecoach and steamboat companies, and the challenges facing passengers and employees on the stages and steamers of the northern West. Integrating more than 200 historical photographs and other illustrations with vivid contemporary accounts, Schwantes presents a fascinating history of Americans forging the first working connections between the West and the rest of America―connections that the railroads would soon smooth and strengthen. His book Railroad Signatures across the Pacific Northwest detailed that story; here he tells of the people and animals and equipment supplanted by the twin ribbons of steel.

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About the Author:

Carlos Arnaldo Schwantes is director of the Institute for Pacific Northwest Studies and professor of history at the University of Idaho. His book RAILROAD SIGNATURES ACROSS THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award and the Railroad History Book Award.

Review:

"Schwantes takes readers inside bouncing coaches as they rattled over broken terrain, up steep and slippery slopes, and down twisting ravines across Montana, Oregon and Washington and into the staterooms and on the open-air decks of the thrashing side-wheelers and sternwheelers of the Columbia and Missouri rivers. This is popular history at its best, written by a scholar who knows his subject from the driver's box to the quarter deck." William Lang, Portland State University "All in all, the reach of Schwantes' book is so wide that it is very much like a general history - an outstanding general history - of the Northern West for the period form the 1840s to the 1890s." Richard M. Brown, University of Oregon

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