Bibliography of the Oregon Trail

The best authorities on the subject of the Oregon Trail are the publications of the Government. It is not possible to set out here all those consulted in the preparation of this chapter—space will not permit it.

  1. Explorations and Surveys for a Railroad Route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean—War Department. Twelve volumes issued by the Government, 1859. There are many valuable maps in this series. Also much about the early explorations.
  2. History of Utah. Four volumes. Orson F. Whitney. Salt Lake City, 1892. Some things of value found in no other work.
  3. History of American Fur Trade of the Far West. Hiram Martin Chittenden. Three volumes, 1902. One of the best authorities.
  4. Early Western Travels—1748-1846. This is the Thawaites series and embraces the works of Wyeth, Townsend, Gregg, and many others. A good work but the notes are sometimes insufficient.
  5. The Overland Stage to California. Frank A. Root and William E. Connelley. had much valuable information. The text was written by Root. There are many repetitions.
  6. Indian Sketches, by John T. Irving. Two volumes. London, 1835. Takes too long to come to the point, but a reliable authority.
  7. The City of the Saints, by Richard F. Burton. New York, 1862. Good authority. Original, fresh, stirring, strong. Generally accurate, but contains some very ridiculous statements.
  8. Utah and the Mormons, by Benjamin & Ferris, New York, 1856.
  9. Seventy Years on the Frontier, by Alexander Majors. Chicago, 1893. Good authority. The author had a personal acquaintance with Mr. Majors for several years. He was a very conscientious man.
  10. Missions of the North American People, by William Gilpin, Philadelphia, 1873. Also
  11. The Central Gold Region, by the same author. Good authority. Gilpin was the apostle of the West. Benton adopted his views. No other author ever discussed many of the subjects thoroughly treated by Gilpin. He was the first man to recognize fully the resources and destiny of the West. He was a prophet as well as a student, a soldier, a pioneer. The West which he pictured will not be fully attained for another century.
  12. The Pony Express, by William Lightfoot Visscher, Chicago, 1908. Not much in it of original authority. Claims J. H. Keetley was the first Pony Express rider out of St. Joseph.
  13. Pioneer Tales of the Oregon Trail, by Charles Dawson. Confined principally to Jefferson County, Nebraska. A faithful and reliable book.
  14. Oregon and California, by J. Quin Thornton, New York, 1849. Reliable. Valuable. Students wish there were more like it.
  15. The Oregon Trail, by Francis Parkman. Boston, 1875. As an authority on the Oregon Trail it is a failure. The poorest of all the works of Parkman. It is a charming narrative, but not worth reading for information of a substantial kind.
  16. Recollections of an Old Pioneer, by Peter H. Burnett, New York, 1880. One of the best authorities.
  17. Travels in North America, by Charles Augustus Murray. New York, 1839. Good authority.
  18. A History of Oregon, by W. H. Gray. Portland, Oregon, 1870. A reliable work.
  19. Astoria, by Washington Irving. Philadelphia, 1836. One of the best authorities.
  20. Captain Bonneville, by Washington Irving. Good authority, but it is to be regretted that the original Journals and maps were not set out.
  21. Memories of My Life, by John Charles Fremont, Chicago, 1887. It is a loss to history and science that the second volume was never published. There is little to be found on some of the later explorations of Fremont.
  22. I consulted many other authorities, among them the Kansas Historical Collections, the publications of the Oregon Historical Society, and those of the Nebraska Historical Society.

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