STRAHORN, Robert E. (1852-1944). The Resources of Montana Territory and Attractions of Yellowstone National Park. Helena, Montana: By the Montana Legislature, 1879.
8vo., (9 x 6 inches). 4-page Advertisement including recto of lower wrapper (vertical crease, professionally and gently washed and deacidified). Engraved frontispiece “Map of Montana Territory”; 12 illustrations in the text, including some full-page (evenly toned). Original publisher’s gray printed paper wrappers with Union Pacific and Utah & Northern Railroads map on the lower cover (backstrip and small portion of lower wrapper repaired, not affecting the image, one or two pale stains).
First edition. “It seems likely that the present work was compiled by Strahorn, printed at Omaha , and the edition sold to the Montana Legislature…” (McMurtrie, Montana Imprints 162). It appears that Strahorn produced this pamphlet on behalf of the Union Pacific Railroad, as he worked in their Publicity Department at the time of publication, providing a map showing the route to Montana and Yellowstone Park on the lower wrapper (Sloan). The illustrations include a birds-eye view of Helena (not noted by Reps), which is the same view used in Warner’s Montana directory of 1879.
“When he was eighteen, Strahorn was advised by a physician to move to the Rockies for his health. In 1870 he went west, became a tramp printer, and for the next seven years crowded into his life the many experiences which made him a knowledgeable Westerner. He worked at the case, the desk, and the circulation counter for newspapers in Denver, Greeley, Cheyenne, Central City, and Black Hawk. He tried his luck at being a cowboy, but abandoned the attempt when a bronco bucked him off, leaving him with a lifelong injury (presumably hernia)…
“In September, 1877, Strahorn went to Marengo, Illinois, to marry Carrie Adell Green. En route, he gave a copy of [his book, The Hand-Book of Wyoming (1877)] to Thomas L. Kimball, general passenger agent for the Union Pacific in Omaha. After the wedding the young couple headed for Cheyenne and an uncertain future. On their way west, they stopped over in Omaha. There Strahorn learned that Kimball had shown the book to Jay Gould, president of the Union Pacific, and that Gould wanted Strahorn to form a literary bureau (an antecedent of the modern publicity department) for the railroad.
“Gould planned to have Strahorn write guidebooks publicizing the entire area served and to be served by the Union Pacific. The new literary bureau would be a part of the passenger department, and it would be under Kimball’s supervision. Strahorn was to travel throughout the West gathering information for the guidebooks that Kimball requested – a book about the Mountain West generally and a separate one about each of the individual states and territories…His job was not to publicize the Union Pacific but the entire West, not to sell Union Pacific lands but to attract settlers who would create freight tonnages and passenger revenues” (Oliver Knight, The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 1968).