The Prairie Traveler (Librivox)

July 22, 2015

If you were an American settler, heading out West in the mid-nineteenth century, you’d have been incredibly grateful for a book like this – it’s like a road atlas and travel guide rolled into one, full of details to ensure that the perilous journey across thousands of miles was as safe as it could be. It was written by Randolph B Marcy, and experienced traveller of such routes, in 1849.

There are detailed instructions about necessary equipment and supplies, how to deal with problems, dangers and unexpected situations, and how to avoid these in the first place. Then there are a number of routes outlined with distances, stopping off points, towns, places to find water… a bit like nineteenth century satnav, really, or a Lonely Planet guide. A fascinating piece of history, and a very good addition to travel literature generally, in terms of giving us, for whom travel is so straightforward, a glimpse of what it was like then.

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