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The Crossing Notices

My favorite review of The Crossing--what it is all about!

July 24, 2012, Eldorado National Forest Interpretive Association.
Bob, FYI on your book, it's been very popular this year at Carson Pass, and partly because Dennis Price is conducting a history walk one or two days a week and he uses your book as a reference.

Vol. 18, No 4, Winter 2000/2001, of the Overland Journal, of the Oregon-California Trails Association:
The reviewer, Richard H. Dillon, Professor of History at the Fromm Institute, seemed to like it except for "typos and double strikes" (they are now gone in current expanded printing) and the "writer's (me) conversational style." The latter remains, and will remain. There is a large sampling of that style, such as it is, on this site. If you survived it here, you will survive the book.

Tom Chaffin, Pathfinder: John Charles Frémont and the Course of American Empire, Hill & Wang, 2001.
"Bob Graham...maintains a fine website--www.longcamp.com--devoted to Frémont and exploration of the American West."


goHere is one online at Trails West--Markers of the California Trail.


July 18, 2001 edition of the Placerville Mountain Democrat:
The Mountain Democrat is California's oldest continually published newspaper--since 1851! The review is more about the author (again, me) than the book, but Doug Noble did like it. As a result, I have gotten phone orders from as far away from Placerville as Santa Rosa.
Placerville was also called "Dry Diggin's" and is still, sometimes, called "Hangtown."
Horace Greeley once headed across the mountain by coach from Carson to Placerville. Legendary driver Hank Monk is said to have, between the crackings of the long whip, reassured him, "Don't yer fret none, Horace, I'll git yer thar on time!"
A huge crowd was assembled in the streets in front of Cary House awaiting the arrival of the famous guest. A great cheer went up as Monk careened into town at his usual break-neck speed--horses steaming. It was a very shaken Greeley that slowly emerged from the coach. The top of the coach also required repair from being repeatedly hammered by the Greeley head.
At least that is one version of the story.

ENFIA's Review of The Crossing
The Eldorado National Forest Interpretive Association

This work chronicles Fremont's crossing of the Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1844. The Crossing employs a very interesting approach to its subject. The author--Bob Graham--bases the framework of his book on a portion of Fremont's official report to Congress. This part of Fremont's report narrates the period from January 25th to March 6th. During this time, Fremont traveled from the foot of the eastern Sierra Nevada's near Markleeville to Sutter's Fort in the Sacramento Valley. Interspersed with Fremont's narrative are corresponding entries from Charles Pruess' diary and Kit Carson's autobiography. George Karl Ludwig "Charles" Pruess was Fremont's cartographer during the expedition. Kit Carson, of course, was Fremont's famous scout.

The three men frequently provide contrasting images for any given day during the crossing. For example, for February 17th, Fremont's report happily reads: "Here we had the pleasure to find all the remaining animals, 57 in number, safely arrived at the grassy hill near the camp; and here also we were agreeably surprised with the sight of an abundance of salt." Following this paragraph in Fremont's report, the author inserts a more dispassionate excerpt from Pruess's diary for the day of February 18th: "The horses are now near by on a snow-free hill, where grass is said to be rather plentiful . . . The horse meat is all right as long as the salt holds out." The author then inserts this excerpt from Kit Carson's autobiography: "Sent back for the animals. They had, through hunger eaten one another's tails and the leather of the pack saddles, in fact everything they could lay hold of. They were in a deplorable condition and we would frequently kill one to keep it from dying, then use the meat for food."

We also learn some interesting things about the science of navigation. For example, the direction of Polaris does not indicate true north, and the error is smallest around 3am. Fremont, Pruess, and even Carson would often loose a little sleep by shooting Polaris at 3am in winter in the high Sierras. The very thought is enough to freeze your sextant.

The Crossing offers a crystal clear discussion on some mapping errors that Fremont made in his report to the Congress. This discussion shows how easily mountains can fool you, and how easily one can become lost in high mountains. Graham also reveals Fremont as a competent navigator--foiled only by the fragility of his instruments and the archaic techniques of his times. The Crossing supplies a wealth of GPS data and terrain analysis for anyone dumb enough to retrace Fremont's route over the Sierras. Since I qualify, I am thinking of trying it.

goAnother review and some history from ENFIA


You can buy a copy of THE CROSSING at the Placerville News Co at 409 Main Street--right at the Belltower, and across and just down the street from The Cary House.

And at the Eldorado National Forest Interpretive Association (ENFIA) information center at Carson Pass. A new 2nd printing of the ENFIA's A Guide to the California Trail will also be available, and contains (p. 55-56) an entry for, and hiking map to, the Long Camp site. ENFIA now has an online store that carries The Crossing.

go Or, from right here on this website.



©1999, 2007
Bob Graham