accounts of the Rocky Mountain West provide a window to the past
On Thursday Terry Abraham presents “Tallyho for Idaho,” the second lecture of the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude Fall Lecture Series.
Terry Abraham, Emeritus Professor of the University of Idaho, is retired after twenty-one years as Head of Special Collections and Archives. He has written “Mountains So Sublime: Nineteenth-Century British Travellers and the Lure of the Rocky Mountain West” (2006) and is the recipient of the Idaho State Historical Society's Esto Perpetua award.
“This was a group of very literate, cosmopolitan, sophisticated adventurers,” says Abraham. “They wrote about their experiences as hunters, cattlemen, and gold miners for readers back home.” The slide lecture, based on Abraham’s research in the great libraries of Oxford and London, will present content from over 300 books the travelers wrote about their experiences; many of them are illustrated with engravings, woodcuts, and photographs.
Abraham will recount some of the clashes between the aristocratic, class-oriented British and the no-nonsense pioneers. “One British traveler made his guide drag along his portable bathtub,” laughs Abraham. “The buckaroo got so frustrated one day, he shot it full of holes. I mean, a portable bathtub?”
Along with some of the more humorous anecdotes, the books include poetic descriptions of the gorges, canyons, and waterfalls of the American landscape as well as poignant observations of the Americans’ relationships to it. “The British perceived the Americans’ assumption that they would never run out of trees, fresh water, clean air,” explains Abraham, “and recognized the same assumption in themselves that had led to over-exploitation of resources in England.”
Last Thursday, the 12th Annual Fall Lecture series sponsored by the Historical Museum and the Idaho Communities Council (IHC) commenced with a performance by Gary Eller, Director of the Idaho Songs Project. The program included songs from the Salmon River and Hell’s Canyon region about mining, farming, cattle rustling, and Idaho characters. Following the presentation, guests enjoyed a social hour where they shared songs and tales of their own. Gary searches for pre-radio tunes (before 1923) about Idaho to enhance his programs. If you are aware of any old-time songs about Idaho, please contact Gary at the Idaho Songs Project at www.bonafidaho.com.
The upcoming slide lecture “Tallyho for Idaho” is Thursday night, October 6, at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Johanna Room at Spirit Center, behind the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude. For more information call 208-962-2050 or visit www.HistoricalMuseumatStGertrude.org.