Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Orr Whitman, 19 September [1879]

Date: September 19, 1879

Whitman Archive ID: mhs.00026

Source: Missouri Historical Society. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Grace Thomas, Eder Jaramillo, Kevin McMullen, and Nicole Gray

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Sept 19
On the cars on the great Plains on the eastern frontiers of Colorado

Well Lou Dear, I suppose you got my letter from St. Louis, here I am on the great plains of Colorado (and Kansas)—We ride and ride all day & all night, & it is nothing but plains—but I enjoy it all very much indeed—as I sit in the cars writing this, (have a leaf-table before me to write on) 1 p m flying along, I can [illegible]1 p with my eye, including both sides, a radius [t]wo hundred miles—emigrant wagons—quite frequently herds [illegible] cattle, some large ones—settlements 15 or 20 miles apart—no improved farms, no fences—(I mean along here)—but 600 miles of rolling prairie land—the pure cool mountain air delicious to breathe, (it is 3000 feet higher level here than Phila:)—I am in a sleeping car,—(we left St Louis Saturday morning, came through Missouri—staid 4 days in Kansas)—left Topeka yesterday at 5 p m, & will be in Denver this evening—I have got along very well—(two days in Lawrence, Kansas, & two in Topeka)2—we are now about 1800 miles or over west of Phila:—I have good meals

—there is a very sick lady aboard the cars—her husband is taking her to Colorado, hoping it will help her—two beautiful little children—she is groaning as I write—

I finish my letter at the hotel the American House, where I am comfortably housed—This is evidently a fine large busy city, beautifully situated—Every thing goes all right so far with me—Shall stay here about four days—Col Forney hasn't come on here, but turned b[ack] at Topeka & has gone home—I am feeling well—better than before I started—hope you & George & Ed are all right

Brother Walt

I have seen the mountains just before sunset—It was only ten minutes but I shall never forget it


1. A small piece at the side of this letter is missing. [back]

2. See also Specimen Days, ed. Floyd Stovall (New York: New York University Press, 1963), 207–208. [back]

3. In an "interview" which Whitman prepared for a Denver newspaper, he spoke ecstatically of the beauties of Denver. See Fred W. Lorch, "Whitman Interviews Himself," American Literature, 10 (March 1938), 84–87. See also Specimen Days (ed. Floyd Stovall [New York: New York University Press, 1963], 209, 214–216). [back]


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