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The Prairie Traveler

Randolph Barnes Marcy

Book Overview: 

Commissioned by the US War Department and written by a decorated US Army captain, The Prairie Traveler is a complete how-to travel guide for the westward-bound pioneer. Covering topics from first aid for rattlesnake bites to how to travel 70 miles across the desert without water for one's livestock, the guide includes 28 travel itineraries with mileage and firewood availability

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The knees are retained in their proper curvature by cords around the ends. After a sufficient number of them have been placed upon the keel, two poles of suitable dimensions are heated, bent around the ends for a gunwale, and firmly lashed to each knee. Smaller willows are then interwoven, so as to model the frame.

Green or soaked hides are cut into the proper shape to fit the frame, and sewed together with buckskin strings; then the frame of the boat is placed in the middle, the hide drawn up snug around the sides, and secured with raw-hide thongs to the gunwale. The boat is then turned bottom upward and left to dry, after which the seams where they have been sewed are covered with a mixture of melted tallow and pitch: the craft is now ready for launching.

A boat of this kind is very light and serviceable, but after a while becomes water-soaked, and should always be turned bottom upward to dry whenever it is not in the water. Two men can easily build a bull-. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This was good old book. It was interesting to realize that it was probably the only book available to help new pioneers cross the plains. They would have to rely on it and read it and follow it to get across rivers, deal with Indians and know what to do in emergencies in the middle of the unknown...more

This is an old book written at the time of the Western migration. It is a practical book therefore in today's world it has nothing practical. However, from a historical view it is fascinating. I enjoyed the book.

Since we’ve returned from our trip west I’ve been reading about what life was like traversing the wilderness in 1859. ‘The Prairie Traveler’ was an intriguing look into the past with all its dangers, struggles, misconceptions, and experiences.

It really was interesting reading about life in the 1...more

If you are wondering if whiskey will cure anything--the answer is yes. Fun book to read

The bravery of the pioneers who set off westward in a Conestoga wagon during the second half of the 19th century is greater than I have known. I greatly admire their courage and fortitude, even more so since having read The Prairie Traveler by U.S. Army Captain Randolph B. Marcy.
This book fascin...more

National Best Seller!!!!....in 1859.
The Prairie Traveler was written by Randolph B. Marcy, Captain US Army for the use of settlers as they crossed the Great Plains in the middle of the 19th century.
252+ pages (not including the list of itineraries, worth the book alone!) of facts for the intrepid...more

This had a good amount of technical advice, some of it dubious, especially when it came to snake bites and disease prevention. The itineraries for the trails are fairly well detailed, it would be very great to bring this book along for a roadtrip out west.

This also had some interesting and humoro...more

A fine flavoursome trek through pioneer times. Not always entirely gripping (the list of collapsible furniture springs to mind), but it was supposed to be a practical handbook after all. That doesn't mean that there aren't bizarre anecdotes (bears 'hiding' by covering their eyes), and plenty of c...more

This is a Dover reprint of the original publication of the handbook many pioneers swore by as they headed west across the United States in the nineteenth century.

Anyone who has an interest in the nineteenth century, whether it be literature, design, or history, should be acquainted with Dover Pub...more

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