Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The first travel guide ...

There have been innumerable guidebooks written for potential Montana travelers over the years, and these days people are churning them out at an ever-increasing pace. By some accounts, the very first such volume was written way back in 1865, for the handful of intrepid souls who might have been brave enough to plan a journey on the old Mullan Road. The thing was titled Miners and Travelers' Guide to Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado ... quite a mouthful, indeed.

Here are a couple of representative excerpts from that 1865 volume, as reproduced in what is still my favorite local travel companion, the 1939 WPA publication Montana: A State Guide Book:
42nd day -- Move to Bird Tail Rock, 15 miles; road excellent; water and grass at camp; willows for fuel but scant; it would be wise to pack wood from the Dearborn or Sun Rivers, according to which way you are traveling . . .

47th day -- move to Fort Benton, 27 miles if you camp at the springs, or 11 miles if you camp at Big Coulee. The latter never was a portion of my road, but was worked out by major Delancey Floyd Jones, and I am not responsible either for its location or the character of work performed.

Things have changed, haven't they?

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