Press Release: Meldahl, Hard Road West
The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1849 triggered the largest overland migration in the world since the Crusades. Overnight, it seemed like everyone was heading west. Though they knew next to nothing about what they’d find along the way, or even at their destination, thousands of families piled their belongings onto wagons and set out, dazzled by visions of a life of wealth and ease.
As Keith Meldahl recounts in Hard Road West, it didn’t take long before the trail disabused the settlers of those notions. Drawing heavily on the diaries and letters of the emigrants, Meldahl reveals their astonishment at their first encounters with the harsh, breathtaking Western landscape, so much less hospitable than the Eastern forests or Midwestern prairies. Meldahl marries that historical and personal perspective to the equally dramatic underlying story of the geology of the West, peeling back the layers of sediment and history to show how centuries of geological activity had a direct effect on the routes taken by the travelers—and the resources and aid available to them along the way.
Read the press release or an excerpt from the book.