HEAP, Gwinn Harris (1817-1887)
Central Route to the Pacific, from the Valley of the Mississippi to California: Journal of the Expedition of E.F. Beale, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in California, and Gwinn Harris Heap, from Missouri to California, in 1853
Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co., 1854. 8vo, ,10-136 pp. (8 5/8 x 5 1/4 inches). Half-title, 46-page publisher's advertisements at end, publisher's advertisements printed on endpapers. Folding map of the central route from the Mississippi to California tipped in at rear pastedown and 13 tinted lithographed plates.
Original blind-stamped cloth, gilt-lettered, rebacked preserving original spine.
One of the first detailed accounts of the central route from Missouri to the Pacific, complete with the rare map.
E.F. Beale and Gwinn Heap were greatly influenced by Senator Benton in their choice of a route across Colorado and Nevada. The party travelled from Westport (Kansas City) southwest on the Santa Fe trail to Bent's Fort, then to the short-lived Fort Massachusetts, the Rio Grande Valley, the Grand River, and then to the Uncompahgre. They returned to Taos for supplies, and then continued southwest via Utah to California. The map, which is present here, was issued with only a few copies. Wheat praises the map and spends several pages discussing the journey, saying that it has received less attention than it deserves. He notes that it is the earliest published map to show the middle Rocky Mountain region, through what is now southern Colorado, the first to depict several streams and rivers, and the first attempt to chart a route through Death Valley. This book is one of the first detailed examinations of the "Central Route" from Missouri to the Pacific, and a basic piece of Western Americana. Of special interest, the Appendix section, "Camels, as a substitute for Horses, Mules, etc," foreshadowed Beale's future involvement in the almost mythical "Camel Corps" in 1857. Because of this advocacy for camels navigating the dessert of the Southwest United States, Beale was commanded by President James Buchanan to survey and build a 1,000 mile long road from Arkansas to California and to take 25 camels with him on this desert mission. While this was a short lived experiment,as the camels fell into Confederate hands at the beginning of the Civil War to never be used again, the self proclaimed "Camel Corps" is a fascinating chapter of American history that traces its origins to this text.
Cowan, p.273; Howes H378; Mintz 562; Sabin 31175; Wagner-Camp 235; Flake 3934; Rittenhouse 290; Wheat Transmississippi 808; Streeter Sale 3177; Graff 1837.