Sarah Kemble Knight journeys from Boston to New York. Accompanied only by local guides, she keeps a journal of her tour, an early document of hazardous travel and road conditions in winter. Madame Knight faces the odds bravely, even in such aggravated circumstances as a night in a road inn full of men drunk from rum and continuing to drink . . . at a time, when single rooms were not known.
Sixteen-year-old Benjamin Franklin, on his trip from Boston to Philadelphia, traveled by boat to New York, crossed to Newark, traversed New Jersey to Trenton, where he boarded a ship for Philadelphia. All told, it took him several days before he landed in "the city of brotherly love" and there, on disembarking, bought the two loaves of bread on which he munched as he walked into town.
William Byrd takes part in the survey he would eventually account for and describe memorably in his History and Secret History of the Borderline Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina >>>
|1805||Lewis and Clark|
Late in the year, a few days before Christmas,
Frances Anne Kemble set out, the wife of Pierce Butler, on her nine-day trip from
Philadelphia to Butler's Island and St. Simons Island, Georgia, where her husband owned
two plantations and more than 600 slaves were ground to death harvesting rice and cotton.
She traveled with her two little girls, the one three years old, the other just ten
months; all braved the agonies sufferedby train from Philadelphia to Havre De Grace,
by steamboat across the Susquehanna, and on by train to Baltimore. From there, by ship to
Portsmouth, Virginia, and on by train past the Dismal Swamp into North Carolina, where the
railroad suddenly ended in the middle of nowhere. The Butlers were able to secure a coach,
and on they went night and day ("the road lay almost the whole way through swamps,
and was frequently under water . . . a corduroy road") till they reached Wilmington
and the Cape Fear River. They boarded a ship to Charleston, changing there to a boat for
Savannah. Another boat brought them to Darien, on the Altamaha River estuary, with
Butler's Island nearby, a rice plantation in the swamps where no white man could live
between April and December, and for the African American slaves working and dying was
The Year of Decision, Bernard De Voto
entitled his large study on the events unfolding in that year and their significance for
the subsequent history of the West. That year, the first large wagon trains assembled in
Missouri, some 2,700 men, women and children, bent for Oregon and California (among them
the Donner party, doomed to get caught in a late snowstorm in the Sierra next April). Also
in western Missouri were Gen. S. W. Kearny and his unit, about to go on the Santa Fé
Trail and heading for California; for war with Mexico was impending, openly sought.
Francis Parkman, a twenty-three-year-old Bostonian set upon becoming a great historian,
also visited the region, touring the High Plains to Ft. Laramie and visiting an Oglala
village in the vicinity; his perennial best-seller resulting from the summer journey, The
Oregon Trail, shows only a muted awareness of the events he witnesses, faintly
realizing that the Native Americans he went to inspect in their habitat were severely
threatened by the invasion.
|1929||Faulkner's As I Lay Dying . Light in August (1935) can also be read as a road novel.|
|193?||The Joads go to link: The Joads|
|1949||Jack Kerouac go to link: Literature on the Road|
|1964||Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters take to the road.|
|1975||Bruce Springsteen brings out "Born to Run"
the highway's jammed with the heroes of a broken runaway American dream