THE SIERRA by W. Storrs Lee


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From the Lewis & Clark expedition down to the present day, the history of California can be expressed in three words: transportation, exploitation, conservation. The glorious mountain range called the Sierra Nevada has been deeply involved in all three. Before the gold strike, there were few known routes over the Sierra, and fewer roads in California itself. Everything the 49'ers used was packed in by mule. Before long, however, real roads, rather than trails, began to carry the vast traffic of western migration. It became ""an article of faith with California teamsters that wherever a horse can go, a wagon can follow"". When commerce became heavy, hand its like Black Bart developed a special kind of notoriety, and a rule of law rather than men hung in the balance for many years amid the turbulence of phenomenal economic expansion. Storrs Lee, who has glamorized so many American regions, in unsurpassed as a story teller. Here he gives us comical yarns about vast companies of practical jokers, Lonesome men who organized themselves into parodies of fraternal organizations to haze tenderfeet and whoop it up. He relates the origins of the grizzly bear as California's State emblem, and with breath-taking speed whisks us along on a trip down a flume among giant, logs, the pride of the numbering industry. From California's viewpoint, we learn the ""inside story"" of the agonies connected with building the Western Leg of a transcontinental railroad, the horror of floods, the terror of avalanches, and the ecstasy of sweeping downhill on the skis that were to turn the snowy Sierra into a year-round sports resort. Lee's poignant stories of the despoiling of vast acres of defenseless forest and the century of squabbling over water rights and point to his praise of the Sierra Club and men like John Muir. California may not be a scenic Paradise, but Storrs makes it sound that way.

Publisher: Putnam