"Using the common thread of the voyage across the country, Mary Ann weaves together the two stories--Charles and Fannie Crosby's leisurely Victorian tourist trip described in both their diaries--and her own trip, laced with her reflections on her birth country and her own life story. Both journeys start in Brattleboro, Vermont, the author's and her great grandparents' hometown. In October 1871, Chicago just a few days earlier had suffered its catastrophic fire, so Charles' and Fannie's brief encounter with friends is harrowing. They hurry on to visit acquaintances in Omaha and then to inspect the pariah Mormons in Salt Lake City, arriving in San Francisco after three weeks traveling. They spend another six months exploring the city and other parts of California, including a Pacific Ocean steamer trip to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Santa Barbara and then onto the waves again to visit nascent Los Angeles. Charles, a Civil War veteran, visits Yosemite Valley on horseback. The author, who wondered why their diaries didn't reflect the Wild West of her childhood imagination, discovers the real and meatier history of the American West, going through conquest, rapid settlement and economic development during the second half of the 19th century and further changes in the 20th and 21st centuries. She fulfills her quest to understand better why the damage to the environment and Indian people happened and why myths were created to describe the Wild West in her childhood. She is still left with the bigger question many are asking. Can we transform our way of doing things quickly enough to stop our much-loved West becoming an uninhabitable desert?"--Provided by publisher.
To Chicago destroyed by the Great Fire To Omaha gateway to the West Across the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains Wyoming cowboy and Indian country Salt Lake City and the Mormons Across the desert to San Francisco Arrival in San Francisco Excursion to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Back in San Francisco for the Chinese New Year Return Home via gold mines and Yosemite Valley.
Online version: Hooper, Mary Ann, 1944- Across America and back.