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AUCTION 22

 

Privately Printed Rail Tour through the Southwest & Mexico in 1887


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112.     CHURCH, John H[enry] C[offin]. Diary of a Trip through Mexico and California, with Visits at Cincinnati, New Orleans, Galveston, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Paso del Norte, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Aguas Calientes, Leon, Silao, Guanajuato, Queretaro, City of Mexico, Toluca, Puebla, Pyramid of Cholula, Tlascala, Orizaba, Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Napa Soda Springs, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Manitou Springs, Denver, Georgetown, Chicago and Niagara Falls.

Pittsfield, Mass.: Marcus H. Rogers, Printer, 1887. [1-3] 4-72 pp. 12mo (17.3 x 11.5 cm), original light brown cloth, upper cover gilt lettered. Binding lightly worn and with a few light spots on upper boards, front hinge starting, text block slightly cracked near rear, one small spot on p. 3, otherwise a fine copy of a delicate, ephemeral publication. Very scarce, only a few copies privately printed for “his friends as a token of his esteem.”

     First edition. Flake (Supplement) 1283b: “Mormons & Utah, pp. 59-62.” Not in Cowan, Rocq, Palau, or other standard sources. A successful Berkshire, Massachusetts, merchant gives an account of his seventy-six-day trip by rail from the East Coast through New Orleans, into Texas, thence to Mexico, north to California and then back to the East Coast through Salt Lake City, Denver, and Canada, as outlined on the title page. In Texas he visited Galveston, Houston, El Paso, and San Antonio. In describing the Alamo, he says: “It is a mere mass of ruins now.” Arriving at El Paso at seven in the morning, after looking around, he comments: “It is a very small and puny city.” He spends far more time describing Paso del Norte (i.e., Ciudad Juárez), for which his contempt surpasses even that for El Paso. In California, he visited San Francisco, of which he highly approves, calling it “a handsomely laid out city.” He spent some time in Chinatown, about which he makes several interesting remarks, including a mention of the Opera House Theatre. Upon visiting the Mormon Cathedral in Salt Lake City, which was still being built, he cannot help but sniff that its organ “is not as large as the organ in the Congregational Church at Gt. Barrington.”

     Despite the cursory nature of the author’s observations, this is nevertheless a valuable travel book, encompassing as it does a trip of several thousand miles through the wilds of the American West and Mexico at a time when tourism by train in those regions was a fairly new option.

($300-600)

Sold. Hammer: $300.00; Price Realized: $360.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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