Travels with Thoreau: The Journey West

     ~ Following in the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau ~


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1861: May 11-July 11: The Journey West to Minnesota and back.

Thoreau and Horace Mann Jr. spent two weeks getting from Massachusetts to Minnesota, by rail and by steam.  They spent one month exploring the area around the Twin Cities, and also accompanied a tourist excursion to the Lower Sioux Agency in Redwood, Minnesota.  Then they took to water and rails again and followed a more northern route to return home.  

Though the intent of the trip was to relieve Henry Thoreau's symptoms of consumption, it was also his one and only chance to "Go West."  He and young Horace were able to "botanize" at Niagara Falls, N.Y.; on Barn Bluff in Redwing, Minn.; along the Minnesota River; and on Mackinac Island, Mich.

Here's the route they took.  Click here to follow each step of the trip and to see the lists of railroad stops. Click here to see the transcription of Thoreau's 100-page notebook.

For more details about The Journey West, see Westward I Go Free: Tracing Thoreau's Last Journey, by Corinne Hosfeld Smith.

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