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Guide to Life and Literature
THERE WAS Independence on the Missouri River, then eight hundred miles of twisting trail across hills, plains, and mountains, all uninhabited save by a few wandering Indians and uncountable buffaloes. Then there was Santa Fe. On west of it lay nearly a thousand miles of wild broken lands before one came to the village of Los Angeles. But there was no trail to Los Angeles. At Santa Fe the trail turned south and after crawling over the Jornada del Muerto -- Journey of the Dead Man -- threading the great Pass of the North (El Paso) and crossing a vast desert, reached Chihuahua City.
Looked at in one way, Santa Fe was a mud village. In another way, it was the solitary oasis of human picturesqueness in a continent of vacancy. Like that of Athens, though of an entirely different quality, its fame was out of all proportion to its size. In a strong chapter, entitled "A Caravan Enters Santa Fe," R. L. Duffus (The Santa Fe Trail) elaborates on how for all travelers the town always had "the lure of adventure." Josiah Gregg doubted whether "the first sight of the walls of Jerusalem were beheld with much more tumultuous and soul-enrapturing joy" than Santa Fe was by a caravan topping the last rise and, eight hundred miles of solitude behind it, looking down on the town's shining walls and cottonwoods.
No other town of its size in America has been the subject of and focus for as much good literature as Santa Fe. Pittsburgh and dozens of other big cities all put together have not inspired one tenth of the imaginative play that Santa Fe has inspired. Some of the transcontinental railroads probably carry as much freight in a day as went over the Santa Fe Trail in all the wagons in all the years they pulled over the Santa Fe Trail. But the Santa Fe Trail is one of the three great trails of America that, though plowed under, fenced across, and cemented over, seem destined for perennial travel -- by those happily able to go without tourist guides. To quote Robert Louis Stevenson, "The greatest adventures are not those we go to seek." The other two trails comparable to the Santa Fe are also of the West -- the Oregon Trail for emigrants and the Chisholm Trail for cattle.
For additional literature see "Mountain Men," "Stagecoaches, Freighting," "Surge of Life in the West."
CONNELLEY, W. E. (editor)
DAVIS, W. W. H.
DUFFUS, R. L.
LAUGHLIN, RUTH (formerly Ruth
MAGOFFIN, SUSAN SHELBY
PILLSBURY, DOROTHY L.
RUXTON, GEORGE FREDERICK
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