The enduring image evoked by the American West is one of grand physical and historical romance, spectacle, and drama. Many generations of historians, both popular and academic, have sought to communication the unique characteristics of this region, whose history and physical setting have for so long captured the public imagination. In the Historical Atlas of the American West, a historian and a geographer meet this challenge by telling the story of the region from a comprehensive geographical perspective. Defining the American West as the seventeen contiguous states from the one-hundredth meridian westward (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, California, Oregon, and Washington), Warren A. Beck and Ynez D. Haase provide seventy-eight maps, each with explanatory text and a selective bibliography of further readings.
This atlas presents the history of the West from prehistoric times to the present. The physical characteristics of the region—its natural resources and geographic features, climatic zones, agricultural regions, mineral resources, and native flora fauna—are presented, along with special maps stressing the impact of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
Several maps provide unique views of Western Indians from ancient times to the latter part of the nineteenth century, including maps devoted to the tragedy at Wounded Knee, the Ghost Dance Religion, and Indian judicial districts. All the major explorations and overland movements in the region, as well as the evolution of transportation routes—from cattle trails to modern railroads—are depicted. The Spanish-Mexican land grants are presented in detail, with special emphasis on the early ranchos of Texas. Locations of important military events and installations, ranging from the Indian Wars of West to World War II POW camps, are recorded.
Beck and Haase have thus succeeded in synthesizing and capsulizing a vast amount of information on the American West to create seventy-eight vignettes of uniquely western events and life ways from 1536 to 1980. Offering insights into the region’s geography and the various groups that have populated the West over the centuries, this atlas will provide a valuable reference for scholars and fascinating entertainment for Western history buffs.