ONE OF THE BASIC BOOKS ON WESTERN EXPLORATION: RARE FIRST EDITION OF HEAP’S CENTRAL ROUTE TO THE PACIFIC, WITH IMPORTANT MAP NOT APPEARING IN ALL COPIES
HEAP, Gwinn Harris. Central Route to the Pacific, from the Valley of the Mississippi to California: Journal of the Expedition of E.F. Beale… and Gwinn Harris Heap, from Missouri to California, in 1853. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, 1854. Octavo, original dark green cloth, printed endpapers with publisher’s advertisements. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $11,000.
First edition of this fundamental exploring narrative, with large folding map (present in only some copies) and 13 tinted lithographic plates. One of the first works to show the Middle Rocky Mountain region and to indicate the 1849 Death Valley pioneer route.
This 1853 expedition was under the command of Edward Fitzgerald Beale, the legendary frontiersman and close friend of Kit Carson and John Fremont. Heap was a cousin of Beale’s; he kept a journal of the march, which was serialized in the National Intelligencer in November and December of 1853. The expedition was to explore the central route to the Pacific Coast. Leaving Westport, Missouri, in May, with twelve riflemen, Beale went first to Council Grove. From there he passed up the Arkansas River to the mouth of the Huerfano, about twenty miles east of present-day Pueblo, Co, and thence to the San Luis Valley, and from there to the coast (Blackmar). “Of all the journals and diaries telling of the crossing of the Mojave Desert, none in our opinion is comparable to the Heap (journal) in sheer readability and in picturesque descriptive quality” (Edwards). “Some of the areas explored are here described for the first time” (Graff 1837). “Heap accompanied his journal with a very interesting map… This map was not issued with all copies of Heap’s book, and has received less attention than it deserves… This is the first attempt on a published map to show the 1849 Death Valley pioneer route” (Wheat 808). Of interest are Heap’s notes in the appendix regarding the usefulness of camels for desert expeditions. Because of his advocacy, Beale was commanded to take 25 camels with him in a later expedition to California in 1857, which he did reluctantly; this was the source of the famous “Camel Corps.” Plate VIII, Coochatope Gate, mislabeled “Coochatope Pass,” as issued. With 32 pages of publisher’s advertisements bound at rear, as issued. Howes H378. Sabin 31175. Graff 1837. Wagner-Camp 235. Eberstadt 121:138. Cowan, 107.
Faint dampstain affecting corner of plates. Skillful repair to spine ends. An extremely good copy in the original cloth.