By Jody Hedlund
Howdy, everyone! Thank you for having me back here on Petticoat and Pistols! I’m thrilled to have another chance to hang out with you all!
I recently had another cowboy book release, The Heart of a Cowboy (and I’m giving away a copy today here!). This one has to do with the very fun and interesting topic of traveling west by covered wagons.
Almost everyone has heard of the Oregon Trail and the many people who traveled to the west in covered wagons (and by stagecoach) over the well-worn route.
The Santa Fe Trail was another such trail to the west. It ran parallel to the Oregon Trail (mostly) but was a more southerly route through Kansas that eventually led to New Mexico (and was also used to reach southern Colorado).
Whether the Oregon or Santa Fe trails, the months-long journey to the west was marked by incredible difficulties. In researching for my book, I read countless diaries and journal entries by many of the brave people who ventured across the country. One classic I read was The Prairie Traveler which was actually a book written in 1859 by an army captain by the name of Randolph B. Marcy. The U.S. War Department asked him to publish a guide for settlers traveling across the American frontier based on his extensive experiences. His little book soon became an essential handbook for those pioneers. They used his advice on how to prepare for the trip as well as what to expect in the open country.
Even with sufficient preparation, good equipment, and an experienced guide, the travelers still faced incredible challenges. The npshistory.com site (National Park Service) indicates that nearly one in ten travelers on the Oregon Trail died on route to the west.
The Heart of the Cowboy tackles many of the hardships travelers had to endure including a near-river drowning, lost livestock, lost people, vicious storms, threats from Confederate Irregulars, danger from rattlesnakes, hot and dry weather, lack of water for both people and livestock, and much more.
One really dangerous aspect of traveling the Santa Fe Trail was the possibility of running out of water. I read an account of this very thing happening to travelers and how they dug down into the dry riverbed, placed their wagon box into the hole, and finally were able to tap into water buried a little deeper in the ground. So, of course, I had to include such an incident in my story too! (Along with many other dangers that really did happen to real-life travelers!)
Such stories of bravery make me appreciate those early pioneers all the more! (And make me grateful for our easy, fast, and comfy modern cars and airplanes!)
Leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of the book! (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) I will choose a random winner on November 7, this Sunday. To find out more information about the book visit: http://jodyhedlund.com/books/the-heart-of-a-cowboy/
If you had to travel in a covered wagon to the west, what would you like most? Like least?
Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens.
She is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy teens, and five spoiled cats.
Visit her at jodyhedlund.com