This is a Dover reprint of the original publication of the handbook many pioneers swore by as they headed west across the United States in the nineteenth century.
Anyone who has an interest in the nineteenth century, whether it be literature, design, or history, should be acquainted with Dover Publications. They've been my go-to source for affordable reprint editions of novels, clip art, floor plans... all sorts of things. I can spend hours looking through their catalogs and website.
Dover is responsible for reprinting this gem-- The Prairie Traveler-- and if you ever wanted to know if pioneers had a guidebook for how to equip themselves for a transcontinental journey, the answer is yes. Veteran Randolph Marcy covers every conceivable topic westbound travelers would need to know. What type of covered wagon to buy. Oxen or mules? What to pack in the wagon and how to pack it. How to ford streams. What sorts of guns are the best. What to do in case of snake bite. How to deal with Indians. And that's just for starters.
This little volume packs a ton of information, some of which is still useful today. I've read plenty of histories, biographies, and historical fiction about the pioneers, but reading this guidebook made their journeys tactile, immediate. It brought back memories of my grandfather and I walking along the wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail near Scottsbluff, Nebraska. It brought home how difficult that journey was for the thousands of people who endured it.
I learned a great deal from reading The 1859 Handbook for Westbound Pioneers. The added bonus was that it also fired my imagination.
The Prairie Traveler: The 1859 Handbook for Westbound Pioneers by Randolph B. Marcy
Dover Publications © 2006
Paperback, 256 pages
Source: Paperback Swap