I saw my first herd of Texas longhorns paddling a slow drift bend in the Schroon River on an August afternoon. They’d come with their calves to water in the head of the day’s heat.
Topping nearby Gore Mountain on an October morning, I stopped short of running into a huge bull moose. “No moose around here,” the guys at the hardware store said. Traveling fifty miles a day from Canada, I’ll bet.
Here, in the east, it seems awfully crowded. We drive on interstates, live in cities, and shop in malls. But…Even here…Fly over the Adirondacks…It’s all trees, and lakes: rivers running down draws, going nowhere.
Now imagine it’s 1865, and it’s the Missouri River, rushing west with the river are the ranchers, the hardscrabble farmers, sheepherders and cattlemen, gunsels and lawmen, scouts and surveyors. Then come the railroaders and the loggers trying to fill up this huge space…And not making a dent. Next time you fly to California, look outside, Montana: empty, Wyoming: empty, Utah: empty.
There’s plenty of room left, still. But think of what it was then.
New York, July 2007