Scenes of Visionary Enchantment


Scenes of Visionary Enchantment

Reflections on Lewis and Clark

Dayton Duncan

202 pages


June 2012


$18.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Suffering from a case of “road fever” brought on by prolonged exposure to the journals of Lewis and Clark, Dayton Duncan has retraced the Corps of Discovery’s route from Saint Louis to the Pacific and back again four different times during the past twenty years—to say nothing of his countless additional trips to landmarks along their route. In sweltering summer heat and in temperatures 45 degrees below zero, he watched yellow moons rise and heard buffalo thunder; navigated against the Missouri River’s relentless current and stood on its surface, frozen solid overnight; canoed a dozen times through Montana’s magnificent White Cliffs (Lewis’s “seens of visionary inchantment”); and read the journals by candlelight in the expedition’s fort on the Pacific coast. Along the way, Duncan wrote the essays that make up this book, essays that guide the reader on a journey of discovery along the trail of Lewis and Clark.

More a revisiting than a retelling of the story of the Corps of Discovery, Duncan’s book reintroduces us to people and places along the trail, reflects on events large and small that occurred during the expedition, and offers constant—and constantly entertaining—insights into why, two centuries later, the saga of Lewis and Clark continues to exert such a powerful hold on our national imagination.

Author Bio

Dayton Duncan is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker and the author of twelve books, including Out West: A Journey through Lewis and Clark’s America and Miles from Nowhere: Tales from America’s Contemporary Frontier, both available in Bison Books editions. His most recent books (coauthored with Ken Burns) are The National Parks: America’s Best Idea and The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History.


“An admittedly die-hard fan of Lewis and Clark, Duncan is extremely knowledgeable about the Corps of Discovery’s expedition, which is reflected in this fine collection of 16 road essays inspired by his retracing Lewis and Clark’s trail over the past 20 years.—Library Journal

"Essays on eclectic aspects of America's most famous road trip. . . . Duncan's orations typically draw inspiration from something in the explorers' journals that instantly resonates with enthusiasts, such as Lewis' escape from a bear, or simply a rapturous phrase, such as the one Duncan borrowed for his title."—Booklist

“The threads uniting the seventeen colorful vignettes in Scenes of Visionary Enchantment are the colors, textures, sounds, and human experiences inherent in the grand story of the Lewis and Clark exploration.”—Joseph A. Mussulman, Montana: The Magazine of Western History

“For decades, Lewis and Clark have been blessed with eloquent chroniclers who have retold their story in far more dramatic ways than the participants did themselves. But no writer—not DeVoto, not Ambrose—tells this story with the flair and passion of Dayton Duncan.”—Carolyn Gilman, Great Plains Quarterly

"In his collection of 17 finely crafted essays, Duncan brings the dramatic, significant or revealing moments of the exhibition alive, and draws compelling themes and lessons from each story. . . . Duncan is one of the most vivid guides to the expedition writing today. In an essay entitled 'The Lewis and Clark Guide to Leadership,' Duncan draws ten points from the Corps that every would-be captain today should read and follow."—Nebraskaland

"The compelling cast of characters seems to leap from the pages as they might in a well-written novel—but here they are all part of a carefully documented and researched history."—Mae Woods Bell, Rocky Mount Telegram

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