The Old Santa Fe Trail
"What is distinctive in [Vestal's] account is the admirable reconstruction of the facts and feelings of the life of the trail. To read his book is to ... Show synopsis "What is distinctive in [Vestal's] account is the admirable reconstruction of the facts and feelings of the life of the trail. To read his book is to realize that life as vividly as if you had seen it in a movie. . . . Obviously, he loves the Trail and knows it as well as one knows one's own sidewalk. His enthusiasm makes his knowledge infectious."-New York Times. "Anecdotal history at its best, history come to life. . . . This is the way people lived along the trail."-Christian Science Monitor. The Santa Fe Trail was one of the two great overland highways originating in Missouri in the nineteenth century. Several decades before settlers streamed over the Oregon Trail, traders were heading southwest. The caravans carried the wares of Yankee commerce; they returned loaded with buffalo robes and beaver pelts and the rich metals of Mexican mines. The thousand-mile journey "was a perilous cruise across a boundless sea of grass, over forbidding mountains, among wild beasts and wilder men, ending in an exotic city offering quick riches, friendly foreign women, and a moral holiday, " writes Stanley Vestal. Vestal begins where the trail does. He describes outfitting for the trip, the society formed for survival, the hunt for meat, landmarks, and the dangers. He evokes the history and legends surrounding the trail at every point, including figures like Kit Carson, Jedediah Smith, the Bent brothers, and Uncle Dick Wooton. Stanley Vestal's fame rests on such reliable and entertaining books as Jim Bridger: Mountain Man and Joe Meek: The Merry Mountain Man, available as Bison Books. Marc Simmons is an authority on the Santa Fe Trail and the author of numerous books including Witchcraft in theSouthwest: Spanish and Indian Supernaturalism on the Rio Grande, also available as a Bison Book.