New Perspectives on THE WEST
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The People
Empire Upon The Trails
Speck of the Future
Death Runs Riot
The Grandest Enterprise Under God
Fight No More Forever
The Geography of Hope
One Sky Above Us
Speck of the Future


Gold Fever

My Share of the Rocks


Stay at Home

The Diggings

The Right of Conquest

This Land of Gold & Hope

Emporium of the Pacific


The Day of Forty-nine

THE WEST Speck of the Future


KIt CarsonAs thousands of Forty-niners streamed west, many carried with them the explorer John C. Frémont's official reports of his expeditions into the Rockies in the early 1840s, which portrayed his scout, Kit Carson, as fearless, chivalrous, and resourceful. But these reports paled in comparison to the sensational "dime novels" about Carson written by people who had never been west themselves, and certainly had never met the former mountain man.

Dayton Duncan"He was one of the first legends in his own time, a case where people had their image of what a Westerner was, that sometimes didn't square with the real thing. Kit Carson was up at a Fort Laramie. Somebody came over and said, 'I hear you're Kit Carson; is that right?' And, he was kind of a laconic man, he said, 'Yeah, I am.' And the person from the East looked him up and down and compared him to what he had read, and he goes, 'No , I don't think you really are Kit Carson.'"
Dayton Duncan

The real Carson knew enough not to gamble his future on finding gold. Instead, he bought some 6,500 sheep from the Navajos at fifty cents a head and began driving them toward the gold fields, where he hoped to sell them for more than ten times that amount. Even here, his fame preceded him. When he drove his sheep onto a ferry boat on the Green River in Wyoming, the boatman refused to let him pay.

Dayton Duncan"They let him trail his six thousand five hundred sheep across for free -- that's quite a savings -- in order that they could name it Kit Carson's Cut Off, cause they figured if people heard about that, that's the one they would take, and they'd make a lot of money off his name."
Dayton Duncan

Soon there would be Carson Lake, Carson River, Carson Pass, Carson Sink, Carson City -- and more. The old scout was philosophical about it all. Someone once showed him the cover of a particularly lurid book about himself and asked about the story it contained. "It may be true," he answered, "but I ain't got any recollection of it."

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