Through Indian Country to California: John P. Sherburne's Diary of the Whipple Expedition, 1853-1854

Front Cover
Stanford University Press, 1988 - History - 285 pages
Never before published, this is a vivid account of a youthful member of a U.S. government expedition sent across the Southwest to survey a potential route for a transcontinental railroad. Setting out from Arkansas in 1853 under the leadership of Lieutenant Amiel Weeks Whipple, the expedition traveled through Indian Territory (in what is now Oklahoma), the Texas Panhandle, and New Mexico Territory. Beyond the Rio Grande, it was the first wagon train to cross present-day northern Arizona to the Colorado River. John Sherburne, an assistant to the scientists of the Whipple expedition, faithfully recorded his experiences on the long journey that ended in Los Angeles in March 1854. His diary is a valuable record of a journey that accurately mapped a little-known region for the first time, advanced knowledge of the sciences and the trans-Mississippi West, and pioneered a path for a future wagon road and railroad that opened up a new territory for white settlement. Along the way, Sherburne and his companions came into close contact with peoples from other cultures. They met New Mexicans of Spanish and Indian descent, resettled Indians such as Choctaws and Creeks, members of the "wild" Kiowa and Comanche tribes, and Pueblo Indians who had lived for centuries in their distinctive communities. A keen observer of daily life on the trail, Sherburne relished the adventure with boyish enthusiasm, and he set down his observations in colorful detail. The book contains illustrations and six maps.--Jacket

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