On the Trail to the California Gold Rush

Overview

Lured by “the astonishing accounts of the vast deposits of gold in California,” Alonzo Delano (1806–74) of Ottawa, Illinois, bid farewell to his wife and children and joined the rush to El Dorado. For the next five months—April to early September 1849—he persevered in writing his remarkably detailed diary, recounting his experiences among the more than thirty thousand goldseekers representing all thirty states who struggled across half of the continent to California’s “gold fields.” With each entry the reader is ...
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Overview

Lured by “the astonishing accounts of the vast deposits of gold in California,” Alonzo Delano (1806–74) of Ottawa, Illinois, bid farewell to his wife and children and joined the rush to El Dorado. For the next five months—April to early September 1849—he persevered in writing his remarkably detailed diary, recounting his experiences among the more than thirty thousand goldseekers representing all thirty states who struggled across half of the continent to California’s “gold fields.” With each entry the reader is drawn into the changing circumstances, from a hurried trailside burial of a comrade to a defense against an Indian attack; from suffering thirst in the desert to anger at a lazy campmate. Unlike most diarists who at the end of the epic journey gave up their demanding task, Delano continued his vivid account until the summer of 1851. He went on to report as a professional journalist, ranging far and wide across the scenes of life in the diggings and the cities, from prospecting along the Yuba River to witnessing lynch law in San Francisco. First published in 1854 as Life on the Plains and among the Diggings and deemed a California Gold Rush classic, this new edition will carry on the adventure for thousands of new readers.
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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the West

“This new edition will serve as a fine introduction to the gold rush literature for new readers and as a welcome reminder to established scholars.”—David A. Walker, Journal of the West

— David A. Walker

Roundup Magazine
“Whether or not the reader is as enamored of diaries and memoirs as I, there is so much detail, so much revelation about feelings, opinions, and beliefs of both the author and those he writes about, that this should be required reading in every high school and college reading list. It is a wonderful book.”—Roundup Magazine
California Territorail Quarterly
"You can't miss with the Bison Books from the University of Nebraska Press. This sentiment is doubly true when one of its books bears an introduction by the outstanding interpreter of our California Gold Rush, J.S. Holliday."—California Territorial Quarterly
Journal of the West - David A. Walker
“This new edition will serve as a fine introduction to the gold rush literature for new readers and as a welcome reminder to established scholars.”—David A. Walker, Journal of the West
Roundup Magazine

“Whether or not the reader is as enamored of diaries and memoirs as I, there is so much detail, so much revelation about feelings, opinions, and beliefs of both the author and those he writes about, that this should be required reading in every high school and college reading list. It is a wonderful book.”—Roundup Magazine

California Territorail Quarterly

"You can't miss with the Bison Books from the University of Nebraska Press. This sentiment is doubly true when one of its books bears an introduction by the outstanding interpreter of our California Gold Rush, J.S. Holliday."—California Territorial Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803266490
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Pages: 371
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

J. S. Holliday is the director emeritus of the California Historical Society and the author of The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience and Rush for Riches: Gold Fever and the Making of California.
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Table of Contents

Chapter I13
Unexpected era in life
Company formed at Dayton, Ohio
Departure to St. Joseph
On the Missouri
Brown
Boat Embassy
Crowded emigration
Death by cholera and burial of a young Virginian
Indian Territory
Safe arrival of cattle at St. Joseph
Death by cholera and burial of Harris
Chill and Fever
Harney's Landing
Ferry across the Missouri
Indian country
Timber land
Panorama Plains
Our seventeen wagons
Fifty Ottawa men
Great and Little Namaha
Chapter II23
Rolling prairie
An old pioneer
Strangers with mules and ponies
White men and Indian
Indian theft and deception
Prairie
Grass and water
Thunder shower at night
Mistake of the day
Spoiled bacon
Dividing ridge
The two Namahas
Broken country
Out of the way
Crossing the Great Namaha
Bridge built and crossed
Westward
Tributary of the Little Namaha
Severe thunder shower at night
Wyeth's Run
Hall's Ford
Unknown stream
Pioneer Green
Absentee
South-west course
Crossed the stream
Signs of Buffalo
Chapter III42
Big Namaha
Lost run
The Big Blue
Dry weed fuel
No water
Prairie dogs
Onion family
Table land
S. S. Course
Road found
Nineteen days on Prairie
Companies of gold-seekers
Little Blue
Sand hills
Valley of the Platte
Muddy Missouri
Fort Kearny
St. Joseph road united
Colder atmosphere
Meeting old friends
Captain Tutt
Indian company
Fort
Willow
Severe rain storm
Chapter IV55
A change for the better
Islands in the Platte
Indian robbery
South Bend company
Terrible storm and great loss of cattle
Forks of the Platte
Buffalo
Meeting Friends
Buffalo meat
Fording the river
Men lost
Washing day
Serious results of a joke
Indian village and burying ground
Tindall's grave
Smith Creek
Court-House Rock
Chimney Rock
The "post-office"
Unexpected meeting
Emigrant trains
Picturesque valley
Scott's Bluffs
Chapter V75
Laramie Peak
Laramie River
Fort Laramie
South Bend company
Warm Springs
Cold Water Creek
Division of the company
Horse Creek and Riola Bonta
Black Hills
Crow Indians
Rock Ridge
A beautiful creek
Alkaline district
Colonel Joseph Watkins
A sublime Government
Poison water
Dead cattle
Ferry over the North Platte
Chapter VI90
Over the North Platte
Wagon on the current
Mule trains
Sand-stone cone
Antelopes and wolves
Dry pond
Saleratus
Poison water
Encampment
Immense number of emigrants
The red Buttes
Sand Rock
Willow Spring
Timely hospitality
Independence Rock
Sweet Water River
Intense heat
Perpendicular rock
River through the chasm
Devil's Gate
Shooting a desperado
Myriads of crickets
Chapter VII103
Valley of the Sweet Water
Wind River
Toils of the emigrant
Rencounter threatened
Ice in the desert
Prairie dogs, antelope and mountain sheep
"All is not gold that glitters"
Trading post
Fraudulent post-office
A beautiful prospect
Ascent to the South Pass
Face of the country
Great numbers of dead cattle
Suffering of the emigrants
An old settler
A man accidentally shot
South Pass
Over the mountains
A last look homeward Disbanding of trains
Chapter VIII118
Leaving South Pass
Little and Dry Sandy Rivers
Passage by Sublett's cut-off
Hardships in the desert
Green River
Re-union of old friends at the Ferry
Brutal murder
Search for the criminal
Irregular jury trial
Independence day
Unpleasant incidents
A welcome shade
Bear River
Camp of Snake Indians
Rough traveling
Face of the country
Mountain Indians and traders
Game
Chapter IX135
Hunting Excursion
Mountain scenery
Bear River Valley
Beer Springs
Mineral Springs
Visit to the craters of two extinguished volcanoes
Lindley's misfortune
River Neuf
Arrival at Fort Hall
Panack River
Trading with the Indians
Mule train from Oregon
Valley of Raft River
Large snake
The author gets lost
His suffering for water
Return
Valley of Goose Creek
Chapter X154
Hot Spring Valley
Post-office
Destitute Emigrants
Chill and fever
A party of Digger Indians
Anecdotes
The great basin
Humboldt, or Mary's River
Wild fowl
Appetite and provisions
News from the Platte
Sickness and abandonment of Mr. Ware
Incidents by the way
Indian depredations
Mary's River
Night travel
More trouble from the Indians
Wolves
Sleeping in the open air
Chapter XI172
Broken Surface of the country
Visit to Lieut. Thompson's camp
Col. Kinkead
Bad news from the Sink
Pastimes
Left the Humboldt River
Journey over the desert
Sufferings for want of grass and water
A mother's affection for her child
The oasis in the desert
Hot springs
Chapter XII187
Hot springs
Applegate's route
Onward over the desert
More Indian theft
In pursuit of the Indians
Distressing reports from the desert
Quantities of dead cattle and horses
Remarkable curiosity
Canon through the mountains
Standing sentry
Travelers from Oregon
Lake of salt water
Fresh beef
Chapter XIII201
The Sierra Nevada in sight
Dry bed of a lake
Excursion to the mountains
Narrow escape from an Indian's arrow
Mountain scenery
Crossing the mountain
Salt Lake
Pitt River
A hill of magnesia
Mount Shasta
A noble act of relief
Magazine Rock
Heroic fight with the Indians
Adventure among the Indians
Chapter XIV217
Leaving the valley of Pitt River
False alarm
Good forage
Feather Creek
Timely hospitality from a brother Oddfellow
An under-ground river
Game
Cooking a beef steak
Prospecting for gold
Venison
Effects of starvation
Deer Creek
Starting alone for the valley of the Sacramento
Incidents by the way
The valley in sight
Sensations
Col. Davis' house
Lawson's Settlement
Prices of provisions
Emigrants
Chapter XV234
Sufferings of the emigrants on the journey in the fall of 1849 and 1850
Destitution
Cholera
Employments in the mines
Narrative continued
Arrival in the valley
Broken contracts
Separation
In pursuit of supplies
Indians at the Ranches
Chapter XVI249
Arrival at Sutter's Fort
Plans for the future
Meet Captain Greene and Doctor Angel
Friendly aid
Sacramento City
Departure for the mines
Bear River
Cayotes
Yuba River
Arrival at the mines
Sickness
Success in trade
Return for more goods
Chapter XVII258
Hardships of the miners
Unexpected meeting with Colonel Watkins
Kindness of Doctor Morse
Doctor Patrick
Crossing the Yuba River
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