Monday, December 16, 2019

The Gold Rush and Western Travel

I’m just getting started on my next Proxy Brides book (releasing at the end of March). A recent trip to hike in Death Valley has given me so many ideas!! Have you ever heard of the California 49ers? Yes, they are a sports team, but it also refers to the peak year of influx of people moving to California searching for gold (1849). One group who were looking for a shortcut to the gold fields got a wee bit lost and ended up wandering around the desert for a couple months. Finally they burned their wagons and ate their oxen and walked out on foot. Death Valley National Park has several monuments to their adventures and losses. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying that must’ve been! At least that story has a happy ending (except for the oxen).

The trains only went so far West but were a whole lot faster than travelling by wagon. You could get almost halfway across the country in a week by the late 1840s. But then, if you didn’t get lost, it would take about another month to get all the way to California from New York or Boston.

The California Gold Rush brought a sudden influx of gold into the money supply and reinvigorated the American economy. The population boom vastly altered California, leading it to become a state in 1850. Agriculture and ranching expanded throughout the state to meet the needs of the settlers. Roads, churches, schools, and other towns were built throughout the state.

I think the groom in my next book will have made his wealth through some of these exploits. It’s quite fascinating to read about the massive shift in fortunes during the 40s and 50s. We’re so used to stores, and roads, and hotels today. People must have been truly intrepid back then! I can’t wait to explore some of these themes in my next manuscript J

I’ve got a series set in Missouri centered around train travel (specifically young ladies escorting children on the Orphan Trains). It’s fascinating how much the development of train travel changed life, communication, and the economy. Check out the Orphan Train series. Here’s the blurb for book 1 – Sophie’s story:

She’d happily give him her heart … if only it wouldn’t cost her the only home she’s known

Sophie Brooks thought she had everything she could want in life. Friends, loved ones at the orphanage where she was raised, a job that gives her purpose, and a chance to help children every day … what more could she need? But a chance encounter with a handsome stranger has her wondering if a life—and love—outside the orphanage might be exactly what she never knew she needed.

Renton Robert Rexford III has never wanted for anything. Until he meets Sophie. The charming, intelligent beauty draws him like no other.  But, thanks to a disapproving benefactor who threatens to pull the orphanage’s funding, his pursuit of her could cost Sophie everything she holds dear. She’s all he wants in the world, but how can he ask her to give up so much when all she’d get in return is his heart?

It’s not long before Sophie is forced to weigh her loyalty to the only home she’s ever known against the needs of her heart. Can love prevail—or is the cost simply too high?  

And then travel along with the young women who escort the orphans in Books 2-4

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  1. I love stories about the orphan trains. I hadn't hear about the couple who became lost and had to eat their oxen. They must have been terrified and exhausted.


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