WHEN Joaquin Miller came from the wilds to San Francisco in 1863 with plans to break into print, he discovered that the Golden Era office was the heart of the literary activity in the city. He was impressed by the luxuriousness of the Era rooms, "the most gaudily carpeted and most gorgeously furnished that I had then seen," the cordiality of editor Joe Lawrence, and most of all by the distinguished company that was associated with the journal. A decade later, when he had become famous himself, he looked through his notebooks and found that during his short stay in the city he had recorded seeing in Lawrence's office Adah Isaacs Menken, Orpheus C. Kerr, Prentice Mulford, Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Charles Warren Stoddard, Fitzhugh Ludlow, Artemus Ward, and Albert Bierstadt.
Miller's list of names reads like a roster of local writers and notable visitors to San Francisco in the early sixties and bears witness to the effectiveness of Colonel Lawrence's policy of persuading talented travelers to contribute to the Era during their visits to the coast. Particularly during the year 1863 did Lawrence bag some remarkable talent for his paper, making up in a way for lost opportunities. For had not Sir Richard Burton