Life in the Far West

Life in the Far West

Life in the Far West

Life in the Far West

Synopsis

In this classic of western Americana, George Frederick Ruxton, who died in St. Louis in 1848 at the youthful age of twenty-seven, brilliantly brings to life the whole heroic age of the Mountain Men. The author, from his intimate acquaintance with the trappers and traders of the American Far West, vividly recounts the story of two of the most adventurous of these hardy pioneers - Killbuck and La Bonté, whose daring, bravery, and hair-breadth escapes from their numerous Indian and "Spaniard" enemies were legend among their fellow-frontiersmen.

With Ruxton, we follow Killbuck and La Bonté and their mountain companions - Old Bill Williams, "Black" Harris, William Sublette, Joseph Walker, and others - across the prairies and forests, west from picturesque old Bent's Fort, into the dangerous Arapaho country near the headwaters of the Platte. We share with them the culinary delights of their campfires - buffalo "boudins" and beaver tails - and hear from their own lips, in the incomparable mountaineer dialect, hair-raising stories of frontier life and humorous tales of trading camp and frontier post.

Life in the Far West, then, is adventure extraordinary - the true chronicle of the rugged Mountain Men whose unflinching courage and total disregard for personal safety or comfort opened the Far West to the flood of settlers who were to follow. The breath-taking water colors and sketches, which depict with great detail many of the familiar scenes of the early West, were done by one of Ruxton's contemporaries and fellow-explorers, Alfred Jacob Miller.

Excerpt

In the literature of the early Far West, no work excels in color, charm, or authenticity George Frederick Ruxton’s Life in the Far West, which has long been recognized by students of the fur trade as a classic of its kind. Despite this recognition, and despite the wide influence Life in the Far West has had on the innumerable histories and novels about this colorful era, the book itself has not often been available to the interested modern reader. For this reason I welcome the opportunity to say a few words in this new edition of Life in the Far West, which has been admirably edited and annotated by LeRoy R. Hafen, and to record a few of the many pleasures that Ruxton’s works have given both myself and my husband, Clyde Porter.

The final opening of the hitherto unpaved gaps in the PanAmerican Highway between El Paso and Mexico City brought realization of a long-held desire of ours to set eyes on the localities that in 1846 were visited by young George Ruxton, and in June, 1950, with his two books as guides, we traversed the more than two thousand miles between Veracruz and the bone-dry deserts of present-day New Mexico and Arizona that Ruxton had traveled on horseback, over a century ago, to arrive in the Far West of the trappers and traders about which he was to write.

The new highway obligingly follows quite closely Ruxton’s own route, so we were able without inconvenience to add to our knowledge of formerly accessible places, acquired in two earlier jaunts to the southern extremities of his travels, impressions of the towns below Chihuahua—Mapimi, Frésnillo, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Lagos, and others which cannot have . . .

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