As there are persons whose expression fascinates and wins us through something that we keenly feel but cannot clearly understand, so is it also true of some natural scenes. Such an impression took possession of me at first view of the so-called Beer Spring. I have looked on finer and more majestic scenes, but never found a more home-like place than this valley...
-F.A. Wislizenus in A Journey to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1839
With a keen and ardent eye, Wislizenus, a German physician, recounts his ramblings in the American West. Seized by a wanderlust that compelled him to leave his rural practice as a country doctor behind, albeit temporarily, Wislizenus joined an expedition of fur traders and, funded by his own modest savings, journeyed through Wyoming and Idaho on the Oregon Trail and then into Colorado. Here he regales us with notes on the geography and history of the region, as well as observations on the wildlife, plants, and peoples of the mountains, capturing in captivating words a now greatly changed realm.
Frederick Adolph Wislizenus (1810-1889) was born in Germany, the son of a pastor, and originally planned to enter the ministry until the natural sciences captured his interest. He studied medicine at the University of Zurich, served in hospitals in Paris and New York, and eventually set up practice in the American Midwest. In later life, he explored the American Southwest more thoroughly, with the full support of the U.S. government. A respected naturalist and writer, he was a charter member of the Academy of Science of St. Louis and one of the founders of the Missouri Historical Society.