Henry Taylor’s long life (1825-1931) gave him an unusual perspective on change in American society. During his lifetime, the West was largely settled and America fought in a number of wars. Inventions proliferated and twenty-six presidents served in office. He left the lead mines of Wisconsin for the gold fields of California during the early 1850s. Taylor’s account of his journey across the western continent in search of fortune provides an arresting and detailed look at the dangers of the trail.