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 California & Nevada

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Diary of Patrick Breen--one of the Donner Party

This title is out of print as of August 2017. But a new printing is in press now. ISBN will be 978-0-89646-102-4. A new cover and preface will be provided.

by Teggart.

Diary kept by 1846-47 Donner Party emigrant who survived over-winter entrapment in Sierra snow near Truckee, California. 7 photos, 16 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-048-7. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-048-5. Order #: VIST0048 paper$3.95




How We Get Gold in California

by William V. Wells, a Miner of the Year '49.

Mining methods in use in California's Mother Lode gold belt early in its history: use of the pan, rocker, long tom, flutter wheel, quicksilver machine, and river "jamming" and "coyoteing". Surveys state's active gold regions--Mariposa, Table Mountain at Sonora, Grass Valley, Chinese Digging, Gold Hill, Mormon Gulch, as well as the north coast. A good history of a dominant industry of the state in its time, and whose relics and remnants dominate the tourist industry that has grown up where the mines were. This story helps explain the marks and machinery that modern-day tourists still see on the hillsides and in the museums of the gold country. And its general principles will help would-be miners, too. Reprinted from "Harper's" for 1860. Illustrations from early sources, including a center spread by Frederic Remington. 24 pages. New edition June 2010; color cover 8.5" x 11"

ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-100-0. Order #: VIST0100 paper$4.95




Hydraulic Gold-mining in California, 1883

by Taliesin Evans.

By the 1870s and1880s in the California gold country, the gold that had been easy to pick up already had been. But there was lots more, buried in the earth. A massive plumbing system was built to harness water as a tool to wash the earth away and leave a residue of heavy metals, especially gold. Meanwhile, though, mud and gravel released in the process washed downstream to inundate farms and homes. Dwellers there objected, and in court they effectively stopped the hydraulic mining--one of the earliest environmental court actions. But when our author was there, his interest was describing a vital western industry. And the mines can still be seen--Interstate Highway 80 runs right through one at Gold Run, and another is the Malakoff Diggings State Historical Park, where you can not only see the washed banks but also some of the nozzles and mining equipment used to get the gold out. Reprinted from 1883. Illustrations are from the original article and other period sources.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-052-5. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-052-2. 16 pages.  Order #: VIST0052 paper $3.95



Lake of the Sky: Lake Tahoe in the High Sierras of California and Nevada

by George Wharton James.

This book (in abridged form here) has long been a standard history of Lake Tahoe--telling how the lake was discovered by Fremont while he was what we would today call lost, how it got its name (at first, names), how it was formed, and how it was first used and developed. Author James was a prolific writer early in the 20th century, and did a number of other books on Western travel sites, as well as a technique manual showing how Indians made their baskets. His text in "Lake of the Sky" affirms that this was a favorite site of his, where he returned often. Abridged edition reprinted from the 1915 original. Period illustrations. 96 pages. ISBN-10: 0-89646-038-X.

ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-038-6.  Order #: VIST0038 paper$6.95



The Mammoth Trees of Calaveras

by J. M. Hutchings.

An excerpt from Hutchings' larger work, Scenes of Wonder & Curiosity in California, centering just on this bigtree grove to show how early tourists traveled there by river steamer and stagecoach. We hear of early attempts to exploit the grove's wonders by cutting the bark from the giants and shipping it to the East for exhibition, a move widely deplored by the abundant tree-lovers of that time. Also tells of the efforts to cut down one of the huge and tall trees, using a stump as a dance floor for 32 people, and putting a bowling lane along a fallen trunk. Our author had been deeply involved in the tourist movement, having led the first tourist party into nearby Yosemite, operating a hotel there, and publishing the California Magazine. Illustrations from period sources. 24 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-050-9. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-050-8. Order #: VIST0050 paper$3.95




Mark Twain's Virginia City: Nevada Territory in the 1860s

By Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens).

Here are the famous humorist's adventures in and around early Virginia City, Nevada Territory (now Nevada state). There are silver mining, speculation in silver mines, work in a quartz mill. A trip to Lake Tahoe to secure a timber empire resulted mainly in starting a forest fire. There was the search for the Lost Cement Mine, and, finally, reporting for "The Territorial Enterprise", Virginia City's rollicking newspaper that reported the episodes of riches and murders rampant in this important Western mining center. The writings here were first published in 1872 in "Roughing It", but we have pulled from the larger work just episodes on Virginia City in order to maintain that as a focus. Read these Twain anecdotes for fun, but, remember, too, that these incidents really happened, and that the principals were often in dead earnest; it just took Twain's insights to show the satirical side of human nature. Illustrations are from the original book and other sources. 64 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-074-6. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-074-4. Order #: VIST0074 paper$6.95


A Miner's Sunday, 1849

by Charles B. Gillespie.

This story is set in Coloma, the California gold discovery site of 1848. But it might have happened at any of the gold-rush sites of the West--Virginia City, Cripple Creek, the Klondike--and it probably did, but only on Sunday. Town was a lively place the one day the mines were shut down, with a mix of nationalities engaging in gambling, auctions, horse-racing, shopping for clothes and supplies, eating, drinking, brawling, and general tom-foolery as you might expect from a bunch of young men from all over the world who were off to a get-rich adventure.

Illustrations are from early sources, including the original article of 1891, Frederic Remington, and the Crocker Art Museum. 16 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-005-3. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-005-8. Order #: VIST0005 paper$3.95


Monarch, the Big Bear of Tallack in the Lake Tahoe High Sierra

by Ernest Thompson Seton.

This classic wildlife story was created just after 1900, when a few California grizzly bears, like Monarch, still did roam the Sierra; now they roam only on California's flag. It is a story of the sad life of one of the last wild grizzlies who lived near Tallac, the high mountain rising from Lake Tahoe's west shore, still  wild country today, located in the Desolation Basin Wilderness Area. The book "Monarch" was written for children, but like all truly classic children's literature, is excellent reading for adults, too. Author Seton left many wildlife works for us, such as "Wild Animals I Have Known" and "The Biography of a Grizzly" and was also a practical leader, founding the Woodcraft League, forerunner of today's Boy Scouts. His museum is at the scouts' Philmont Ranch in New Mexico.

100 drawings from the original, by the author, are included. 168 pages. Covers scuffed. Limited supply.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-040-1. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-040-9.  Order #: VIST0040 paper$12.95


Mountaineering in the Kings River Country, 1864

by Clarence King of the California Geological Survey.

This early ascent of Mount Tyndall at the head of King's River (the river is not related to our author) is now classic Western Americana literature. It is mountaineering drama to the extreme, written even when the foothills of the Sierra Nevada were remote enough, let alone peaks at the range crest, such as Tyndall. Clearly showing is the author's love of nature. This writing appeared in several forms before being gathered with others of King's articles in 1872 into Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, a book still in print! In our little volume we include just material dealing with the Kings River country so that visitors to this region, much of it now in Kings Canyon National Park, can focus. King also conducted the U.S. Geological Exploration of the 40th Parallel, an unexplored line through America's interior, and was first director of the U. S. Geological Survey. He has a Sierra peak named for him.

Illustrations are added from Picturesque California (1888) and The Yosemite Guidebook (1869). 48 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-042-8. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-042-3. Order #: VIST0042 paper$3.95


THE MURDER OF JULIA BULETTE: Virginia City, Nevada; 1867--with the life and confession of John Millian, convicted murderer.

by Charles E. DeLong, convicted murderer's attorney, et. al.

Julia, a courtesan now legendary, had not only been a favorite female companion of Virginia City's males, but had been an active contributor to the community in times of civil need, such as the Comstock's early, terrible winters when she attended the sick and needy. Her support of the volunteer fire brigade earned her the title of Honorary Member. Her murder severely offended the camp's code of decency, hard though that was. When her murderer was found, tried, convicted, and hung, virtually the whole town turned out for the final event, "a fine hanging", "the most gala to date in Nevada", it was called. That same evening, Mark Twain, returning from the Holy Land to this town where he had begun his writing career, gave a lecture. Reprinted from a pamphlet issued on the eve of the hanging of Julia's murderer.

Illustrations from contemporary publications. 16 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-044-4. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-044-7. Order #: VIST0044 paper$3.95

Notecards: the Donner-Tahoe Sierra

by Thomas Moran, 19th century landscape painter.

Views from early California of Donner Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Summit of the Sierras--all by Moran, plus Eagle Falls above Emerald Bay.

2 scenes each from lithographs, with 8 envelopes; antique white stock.

ISBN: 0-89646-298-0. Order #: VIST0298 notecard$7.95







Pioneer Days in San Francisco

by John Williamson Palmer.

The City's history from July 8, 1846, when the American flag first waved over the city (then called Yerba Buena), continuing through the early days of Mormon settlement, the total disruption during the Gold Rush of 1849, the terrible inflation of prices, the polyglot composition of the populace, and of City Fathers, Vigilance Committees, and fires. This history goes only to the mid-1850s, truly a pioneer history of just the first, frontier decade of the great City by the Bay. See not only from where the physical base of San Francisco came, but gain insight into how its people of mixed ethnic origin, thrown together in common destiny, sought means and institutions to secure their future, helping perhaps to bring the city to be one of the most open-minded on earth.

Period engravings. 32 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-015-0. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-015-7. Order #: VIST0015 paper$3.95


A Trip to Bodie Bluff and the Dead Sea of the West (Mono Lake)--in 1863

written and illustrated by J. Ross Browne.

The adventures of a noted humorist of the 1860s during an excursion at their heyday to the mines of Bodie, Aurora, and the Mono Lake region. Author Browne was a man of many hats: he was a minerals engineer, an almost politician, locator of coastal post offices in California, recorder and publisher of California's constitutional convention, and writer and artist for Harper's New Monthly Magazine. Browne's writing is not of the "superlative" or romantic variety popular at his time; instead Browne found fun in the foibles of man's endeavors--and poked at them. In fact, Mark Twain's earlier writings were on this same region of eastern California and central Nevada, and the incidents and even the illustrations in Twain's works seem to have been inspired by Browne's preceding writing. Today, we can still see vestiges of some of the scenes Browne saw, for California maintains Bodie today in "a state of arrested decay" as a state park. Park visitors will better understand the scene with these insights from an earlier visitor.     OUT OF PRINT--some scuffed copies available

Illustrated, 72 pages.

ISBN-10: 0-89646-076-2. ISBN-13: 978-0-89646-076-8. Order #: VIST0076 paper$4.95   Out of print except for scuffed cover copies 


ACROSS THE PLAINS IN THE DONNER PARTY: a Personal Narrative of the Overland Trip to California, 1846-47.
click to view on VistaBooks Publishing WesternAmericana page

C. P. R. R.--The Central Pacific Railroad.
click to view on Vistabooks Publishing Railroads/WrightBrothers page

The Hummingbird of the California Waterfalls. by John Muir. ISBN: 978-0-89646-019-5. Order #: VIST0019 paper$3.95
IN THE HEART OF THE CALIFORNIA ALPS: a near view of the High Sierra in 1872.
The Canon of the South Fork of King's River, California.


click to view on VistaBooks Publishing JohnMuir page

DOMES, CLIFFS, WATERFALLS: a brief geology of Yosemite Valley

YOSEMITE: The Story Behind the Scenery.

click to view on VistaBooks Publishing Yosemite page

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