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Reviewed by:
  • Mapping the Four Corners: Narrating the Hayden Survey of 1875 by Robert S. McPherson and Susan R. Neel, and: Our Indian Summer in the Far West: An Autumn Tour of Fifteen Thousand Miles in Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and the Indian Territory by Samuel Nugent Townshend and John George Hyde
  • Tom Huber
Robert S. McPherson and Susan R. Neel, Mapping the Four Corners: Narrating the Hayden Survey of 1875. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2016. 284 pp. Cloth, $29.95.
Samuel Nugent Townshend and John George Hyde, Our Indian Summer in the Far West: An Autumn Tour of Fifteen Thousand Miles in Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and the Indian Territory, edited by Alex Hunt and Kristin Loyd. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 2016. 186 pp. Cloth, $45.

An odd couple of books to review together, I thought at first. Reading them dispelled that impression. Mapping the Four Corners is an intensive look at the writings of the scientists, topographers, geologists, and journalists of the 1875 summer field season of the US Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, more often [End Page 363] referred to as the Hayden Survey, after its head, Ferdinand Hayden. Hayden became famous for his surveys of the Yellowstone region, prompting Congress, with uncharacteristic speed, to create Yellowstone National Park in 1872. After that coup, Hayden set his sights on the next big prize, at least to his mind, of surveying the entire Territory of Colorado starting in 1873 (Colorado became a state in 1876). His survey had multiple purposes: to map the territory as precisely as possible in the time allotted and with the best equipment available; to seek out, map, and analyze the geology, mineral resources, and other physical characteristics of the place to promote development; to open up the West after the Civil War; to help catalog and exhibit all plants, animals, fossils of both, and other unique characteristics of the landscapes surveyed; and, maybe most importantly to Hayden, to advertise his survey and the West through the intensive use of photography and art.

The authors' articulate and informative introduction puts into perspective the journal entries of several members of the 1875 survey season that constitute the majority of the book. That year the survey was to complete much of its work in the far southwestern corner of Colorado and into parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, land the Ute Indians and other Native nations, including the Hopis, considered a significant part of their last remaining territory. The Utes, aggressively pushed farther and farther west by miners and other settlers, viewed the survey as an extension of the white invasion, leading in that year's survey season to the only eruption of violence between Native Americans and the survey.

The book is organized in roughly chronological order, each section introduced briefly by McPherson and Neel. Some temporal overlap occurs because multiple divisions of the survey worked in different places simultaneously. These introductions, followed by multiple excerpts from the 1875 journals, field notes, and articles written by various members of each particular division, are invaluable to grasping the context and import of each of the entries. Together the authors' comments and the survey members' records provide a coherent, engaging, and cogent description of what the survey was accomplishing and enduring in the wilds of the Four Corners region. The volume will give readers a much better understanding [End Page 364] of what field science was like in the West in the post-Civil War era. The authors' eloquent commentary, however, may obscure a few minor errors, such as the Pikes Peak or Bust gold rush not occurring at Pikes Peak but in the Denver area.

Our Indian Summer in the Far West is by two young English gentlemen who ventured to the West on a whim in 1879. S. Nugent Townshend, who wrote the text, and John G. Hyde, who took the photographs, were well-to-do landed gentry bringing with them all their English and social status chauvinisms about class, wealth, and their version of capitalism to the American frontier. In their introduction, editors Alex Hunt and Kristin Loyd do a stellar job of putting this upper-class...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 363-366
Launched on MUSE
2017-11-30
Open Access
No
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