The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 128
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Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly
1857, wrote a spectacular and well-written description of the Grand Canyon
country. Hyde also gets John C. Fremont's routes wrong. Thus her theme of
"tunnel vision" in this first chapter falls to pieces.
The book gets much better after this stumbling start in chapters 1 and 2,
however. She begins to focus much more closely on the transcontinental rail-
road literature, especially press reports and views in mass circulation magazines
like Harper's and Frank Leslze's Illustrated Weekly. Leslze's even published a whole
special illustrated volume to portray the luxuries of the transcontinental train
trip. She declares somewhat sweepingly, however, that "by 1869, the Far West
had become a cleverly packaged commodity, ready to be consumed by wealthy
train travelers" (p. 54).
Part of the packaging involved hiring professional photographers like
Wilham H. Jackson and A. J. Russell to make scenic views of the West that
would match Carleton E. Watkin's spectacular photos of Yosemite. Artists like
Thomas Moran and later the Taos School also served the railroads, while the
oft-criticized Albert Bierstadt did not work for the railroads but contributed
mightily to making the West look very like the Alps.
Resort owners, interestingly surveyed by Hyde, took this cue and constructed
grand spas in the European manner or design-places like Manitou Springs,
the Broadmoor, the Hotel Del Monte, and the wondrous Hotel del Coronado,
which that long-dead explorer would scarcely have recognized. In passing,
Hyde does a fine analysis of resort architecture. In fact, the main thesis of her
book is best demonstrated by her discussion of how the European vogue gradu-
ally gave way to a more indigenous-looking "western" architecture, such as the
Harvey Houses in the Southwest, especially El Tovar and La Fonda, and the
grand Old Faithful Lodge at Yellowstone. Hyde's theme in this respect is
simple. She traces out how people who traveled to the West wanted it to look
like something indigenous and not imitative of Europe. She buys the whole
package here, however, neglecting to notice how much Old Faithful Lodge and
its imitators resembled the eastern Adirondack style more than a truly indige-
In the chapter, "The Far Away Nearby," dealing with the great postwar fed-
eral surveys of the West, Hyde does, however, do a fine job of pointing out how
these Great Surveys under Powell, King, Hayden, and Wheeler pointed out
and dramatized a whole new exotic land to Easterners and Europeans, while at
the same time pointing up the great age of the West in its canyons, dinosaur
finds, and the ancient remains of native civilizations. These latter ruins still con-
tinue to attract millions of tourists, while the Grand Canyon made the Santa Fe
Railroad an adventure.
All in all, this book is a major contribution to American cultural history. The
author is to be congratulated on a well-composed and well-written work. She is
also to be congratulated, perhaps along with Valerie Fifer, for bringing to the
forefront of attention perhaps the most widely read book on the West before
the outpouring of Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour novels: George A. Crofutt's
Transcontnental Toursu's Guide, opportunely first published in 1869, just as the
Union and Central Pacific railroads began to transform the West.
University of Texas at Austin
WILLIAM H. GOETZMANN
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/154/: accessed April 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.