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Western Life: The Travel Journal

Following close behind the early explorers are journalists and writers.  After listening to the explorers, they rush into this new land to paint their word pictures.  They include George Frederick Ruxton, Washington Irving, Francis Parkman and Mark Twain:

George Frederick Ruxton is English born writer who liked to travel.  Washington Irving's influences his writings.  In 1846, he embarks on his expedition from Mexico up through the Rockies and on to the Great Plains.  His account of this Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountain 1846-7.  In 1849, he follows the first book with the novel Life in the Far West.  It sets the pattern for much later writings on this subject.

We know Washington Irving for his Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow stories, however; his Western writings popularized the early pioneers into the West in the 1830s.  Among his writings include A Tour on the Prairies published in 1835 is the story of his own travels.  In 1836, he publishes the biography of John Jacob Astor Astoria and his expansion of the fur trade.  The next year he writes the novel The Adventures of Captain Bonneville about a fur trapper in the Rocky Mountains.

Francis Parkman is best known for his book The Oregon Trail.  The book recounts his travels.  The book becomes a classic travel book.  He intends the book to be a prologue to his massive history France and Britain in North America.

Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  His novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are not Westerns.  One of his classic stories is The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, a classic tall tail.  He began his writing career in 1861 as a newspaper journalist.  He writes Roughing It, in 1872.  This is the story of his travels across the West.

More History

Hall of Fame Western Film & TV
Western Stars
TV Westerns

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