The first transcontinental railroads brought fashionable easterners to the American West. In the 1880s and 1890s they traveled in sumptuous “palace cars” and stayed at luxury hotels. Westerners with an eye on promotion turned to what they took to be their own traditions. After 1900 a wilder West became popular; the Indian was rediscovered, and the cowboy returned to the saddle, if only during fiestas and rodeos. Increasing numbers of tourists headed for “natural curiosities” such as the sequoias of Yosemite and the geysers of Yellowstone. Then mass-produced automobiles and cheap air, rail, and bus fares changed the face of western tourism forever.
In Search of the Golden West offers splendid old-time photographs and descriptions of nabobs, hucksters, naturalists, dudes, realtors, and motorists—all those who sought the reality and created the myth of the Golden West.
Earl Pomeroy (1915–2005) was professor emeritus of history at the University of California, San Diego, and professor emeritus of history at the University of Oregon, Eugene. He was a pioneer in studying sociocultural trends in western history and wrote numerous acclaimed books on the American West in the twentieth century, including The Pacific Slope and The American Far West in the Twentieth Century. William Deverell is a professor of history at the University of Southern California and the director of the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West. He is the author or editor of several books, including Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past and (with David Igler) A Companion to California History.
“Pomeroy has given us an acute, engaging, and provocative book: a lively look at ourselves as dudes and dude-wranglers over a century in which both time and tide were westward running.”—Saturday Review
“[Pomeroy’s] book is small in the number of pages, but large in the research which has been distilled to fill these pages, and has copious footnotes to help the future researcher. Possibly more important for most readers, Pomeroy has chosen his material wisely, and has presented it vividly, with frequent well-turned phrases which often bring chuckles, and with flashes of insight that illuminate the entire story.”—Robert E. Riegel, Montana: The Magazine of Western History
“Wise is the author who selects a topic which invites reading. Earl Pomeroy has done this with his latest volume, In Search of the Golden West. Undaunted by the mass of material that remains of so recent an era, he has come up with a kaleidoscopic view that is a useful [book].”—Emmett A. Greenwalt, Pacific Historical Review