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Stock# 82901

Classic of the California Gold Rush

With Colton's Map

The First Extensive Account of the Donner Party

Thornton's work includes the first detailed published account of the Donner tragedy - which was mentioned previously in Edwin Bryant's What I Saw in California. Merrill J. Mattes highlights this book as an important source for the West, particularly the Oregon Trail, during that most eventful year 1846: "The dramatic events along the Platte make fine material for his purple prose soliloquies, and there is ample room for his poetic skill in his lavish descriptions of the great landmarks of the North Platte valley..." - Mattes.

Thornton was one of the real pioneers of Oregon and California, arriving in Oregon in 1846. He has always been considered a good authority and his work is among the best of the times - Zamorano.

The information on the gold mines is based on accounts by Thomas O. Larkin, R. B. Mason, and others, which is collected in an appendix devoted to "The Gold Regions of California."

Thornton left Westport on May 12, 1846, in a party led by Colonel W. H. Russell, and arrived at Fort Hall on August 7. Here they met Jesse Applegate, who had just come from Oregon by a newly found route. The party then took the new route and finally arrived at Forest Grove, in the Willamette Valley, on November 29. The Donner Party left Westport shortly after Thornton, passing his party on the trail. Vol. II of Oregon & California in 1848 contains a long account of the Donner tragedy, with descriptions of the various relief expeditions - Wagner-Camp.

The folding map is by J.H. Colton, "Map of California, Oregon, Texas, and the Territories adjoining with Routes &c." The central valley of California and the gold producing regions are colored yellow.

In sum, a key piece of Western Americana and an essential book for any serious Californiana or Oregon collection.


Complete examples of Thornton's Oregon & California, with the folding map present, are getting scarcer in the market.

Condition Description
12mo. Two volumes. Original blindstamped black cloth. Spine ends chipped and frayed. Cornerd frayed. Scattered foxing. Map with small (2-inch) horizontal tear in from right-hand margin. Early ownership name on front free endpaper in vol. 1. ix, [x, list of illustrations], [13]-393 pages, folding map and 6 plates (including frontispiece); ix, [x, blank],[xi, list of illustratrations], [xii, blank],[13]-379 pages, 6 plates (including frontispiece) and 8,4 pages publishers ads. Complete. A good set.
Kurutz 632a. Graff 4143. Howes T224. Howell 50:232. Mattes 204. Mintz 466. Rocq 16107. Sabin 95630. Streeter Sale 3155. Wagner-Camp 174:1. Wheat, Books 208. Wheat, Maps 73. Wheat, Transmississippi West 3 & page 75. Zamorano 80:74.