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Briefly describes life in the West, and discusses the ephemeral nature of the region, western towns, the tourist industry, agriculture, fiction, and the ecology movement.
Just what and where is the West? Why have so many been so obsessed with finding and saving that mythic time and place? What has the West meant to those who have lived there and to the millions more who have journeyed there only in their imaginations? And how have the answers to these questions changed with the years? The issues involved here--the place of the West and the frontier experience in our search for a national identity--have inspired a small library of important books during the last thirty years or so. Most of these writers have given their attention to those confident and aggressive years of the nineteenth century when the frontier was sweeping across the continent. Athearn's contribution, in part, is to pursue the shifting perceptions of the West into the present century. There the story has taken new twists as Americans have confronted hard lessons about themselves and their land. Again and again the message of events has been much the same: We are running short of resources and of room to grow. The region that once seemed endlessly bountiful and forever wild has become a land of narrowing limits. With this realization, popular feelings about the West, 'the most American part of America, ' have swung erratically between hope and disillusionment, affection and anger. Yet the myth has survived, however battered and bent into new shapes. . . . The Mythic West is by no means meant as a full treatment of its subject. Instead Athearn uses each chapter to consider from a different angle certain developments that have shaped the modern West and some of the ways these transformations have in turn molded what people have thought and dreamed about that land. . . . It is informed by his characteristic intelligence and graced by the humor and felicity of style his readers have come to expect. As do his other works, it leaves us with a deeper, richer understanding of that elusive and complex place, the West, which he knew as well as anyone ever will. --from the Foreword
Nowhere better than in the history of its railroads is the growth of the Old West revealed, and for Colorado the development of the Denver and Rio Grande Western epitomizes the changes that took place between 1870 and the present. Robert G. Athearn's intimate knowledge of the West has enabled him to write a gripping account of the famous narrow-gauge Denver and Rio Grande as it inched its way south, then turned west into the Rockies. By f1883 it had joined with the Rio Grande Western to become Colorado's only line across the mountains. The Dotsero Cutoff and the six-mile Moffat Tunnel put Denver on a transcontinental line for the first time. Twelve maps and fifty-five illustrations help tell the story.
No one has done before what Athearn has done in this volume. He has utilized company records and a variety of other sources to write a very attractive and readable, but scholarly account of the impact of the Union Pacific and its branch line son the country it served from the 1860s to the 1890s...Everyone from railroad buffs to Western history scholars will like the book. --Choice. This highly readable book is an excellent history of the heart-breaking efforts to build the Union Pacific into a viable enterprise before the end of the nineteenth century...Throughout this attractive reprint edition, Athearn provides insights and fresh perspectives not only on the Union Pacific but on other railroads in the West and their significance in frontier America. --David Dary, Overland Journal. A superb contribution by a master historian, Union Pacific Country is a model chapter in the epic story of how the American West was penetrated, settled, and developed with the aid of steam and iron. The research is massive; the writing style is inviting; the photographs, maps, and documents are helpful; and the story is compelling. --Journal of the West. The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad: Rebel of the Rockies by Robert G. Athearn is also available.
This book brings to life one of the most exciting eras in American history. In late 1819 Colonel Henry Atkinson led an expedition to explore the wilderness of the Upper Missouri and establish sites for a string of military posts, which would extend successful contacts with the Indians as well as exploit trade with British companies. The result of his efforts was a fort system which played a dramatic and significant role in the opening of the territories of the upper plains and the Rockies.