Stephen Atwood papers  1803-1853
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This volume (80 pages) contains diary entries and essays about sea travel between New York City and San Francisco, railroad travel between California and Florida, and life in Florida during the late 1880s. The volume also includes drawings, several incomplete acrostic poems about Grover Cleveland, and a list of theatrical performances.

The bulk of the volume consists of diary entries and essays about the author's trip from New York City to San Francisco on the St. David between July 13, 1887, and December 17, 1887 (pp. 1-39); his time in San Francisco from December 1887 to January 1888 (pp. 41-46); his visit to the New Almaden quicksilver mine in December 1887 (pp. 47-50); his railroad trip from San Francisco to Jacksonville, Florida, in January 1888 (pp. 52-58); and his life in Florida from January 1888 to May 1889 (pp. 59-61). The diary of the voyage on the St. David documents weather conditions; sightings and captures of birds, porpoises, and fish; and leisure activities (such as card playing). When describing San Francisco, the author noted the population density of Chinatown and the city's preference for gold bits over paper money and pennies. During his visit to the New Almaden mine, he descended into a shaft, where he saw Mexican laborers carrying ore to the surface, a mule that had been underground for around a year, and a group of miners preparing a blast.

The author's account of his railroad voyage from California to Florida focuses on the cold temperatures and snowfall that caused him to miss all but one of his intended connections. During the trip, the author stopped at and briefly described Salt Lake City, Denver, Kansas City, and St. Louis. A clipping from a Denver & Rio Grande Railway circular contains a description of the route. While in Florida, the author noted how little Lake Geneva, his primary residence, had changed since his visit four years previously; he also commented on the effects of a yellow fever epidemic.

The travel writings are followed by a group of unfinished acrostic poems utilizing the name "Grover Cleveland" (pp. 62-65), an excerpt of dialogue (pp. 67-68), and a list of plays and theaters, including several that starred Edwin Booth (pp. 75-80). Pages 71-74 have been removed from the volume. Two loose essays laid into the book concern the purchase of hunting dog and a story about the author's travels with an itinerant dentist named Henry Carter. The names John Moore (Brooklyn, New York), Edward R. Wilbur, Jr. (New York City), and Mrs. Samuel Clemens are written on the final page of the volume.

The volume contains several illustrations, including a laid-in watercolor drawing of a sailor making a sail onboard the St. David . Drawings of "A Frisco Beauty" (p. 40) and "From the Car Window (Injuns)" (p. 57) are pasted into the book; the latter drawing shows Indians standing near a group of tepees. A sketched outline of part of a horse (p. 64) is drawn directly into the volume. The author's description of his trip to the New Almaden mine is illustrated with ink drawings of a canyon, the buildings over a mineshaft, and the mine's condenser.

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