Narrative of a Journery


A classic account of exploration and scientific discovery

The Narrative documents the expedition’s role in the opening of the West and records the author’s scientific contributions. “Delight amounting to ecstasy,” wrote Townsend, describing the joys of an encounter with a new species of bird. Townsend’s natural history specimens, collected for the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, caused a sensation in the East and allowed John James Audubon to include far-western species in his monumental Birds of America.

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The Narrative chronicles a journey of discovery by the first trained naturalist to cross the American continent. As a member of Captain Nathaniel Wyeth’s 1834 expedition to the Oregon country, John Kirk Townsend journeyed west through a “rich and unexplored region” that offered science an “almost inexhaustible field” for study. Townsend’s account of his travels is an engaging, personal record of the first transcontinental trek along the route that would soon become the Oregon Trail.

ISBN – 0-87071-525-9

290 Pages

Oregon State University Press, 1999