The adventurous and restless souls who risked all to go West were compelled by those qualities to redraw and improve “tried-and-true” trails. Such a man was Levi Scott, as readers will discover in Wagons to the Willamette, Captain Levi Scott and the Southern Route to Oregon, 1844-1847, by Levi Scott and James Layton Collins, edited by Stafford J. Hazelett (Washington State University Press, $29.95). Scott’s 1844 trek to Oregon reads as a typical emigration narrative. His later activities meet the definition of “adventure,” as he joined the 1846 Gilliam expedition seeking a southern route into Oregon. Scott became captain on a second expedition that blazed the Applegate Trail. Scott’s own recollections provide a detailed look at the steps necessary to create a wagon road. Copious footnotes and good editing make this a valuable historical account.
—Terry A. Del Bene, author of
Donner Party Cookbook: A Guide to Survival on the Hastings Cutoff