Wet Britches and Muddy Boots

Wet Britches and Muddy Boots

A History of Travel in Victorian America
John H.Jr. White
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/22/2012
Format: Hardback 280 b/w
ISBN: 978-0-253-35696-3
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What was travel like in the 1880s? Was it easy to get from place to place? Were the rides comfortable? How long did journeys take? Wet Britches and Muddy Boots describes all forms of public transport from canal boats to oceangoing vessels, passenger trains to the overland stage. Trips over long distances often involved several modes of transportation and many days, even weeks. Baggage and sometimes even children were lost en route. Travelers might start out with a walk down to the river to meet a boat for the journey to a town where they caught a stagecoach for the rail junction to catch the train for a ride to the city. John H. White Jr. discusses not only the means of travel but also the people who made the system run-riverboat pilots, locomotive engineers, stewards, stagecoach drivers, seamen. He provides a fascinating glimpse into a time when travel within the United States was a true adventure.

Author Bio

John H. White, Jr., is author of 13 books, including American Railroad Passenger Car, a nominee for the National Book Award. White was Curator for the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History from 1958 to 1990.


“This book provides a holistic (i.e., by mode of transport) perspective of the realities of the human experience of travel as the technology and operational supply of transport service evolved during the Victorian era and the years immediately preceding and following. I know of no other extant publication that provides this perspective.”
 — John Spychalski, Professor Emeritus of Supply Chain Management, The Pennsylvania State University

“Providing a fascinating glimpse into a time when travel was a true adventure, this book takes the reader on a trip to 1880s America, by exploring canal boats, oceangoing vessels, passenger trains, and crossing paths with the people who made the systems run.”

“...[A] popular history, informative and engaging...White has given us a book that's as unusual as it is useful. Read it cover-to-cover or just pick out a random chapter in a stolen hour, and the book will be equally enjoyable either way.”
 — Railroad History

“Many authors have written about transportation subjects but few have ever provided an overview of transportation in general. John H. Write, Jr., has attempted this amibitious task, and he has succeeded admirably. ”
 — Lexington Quarterly

“Wet Britches and Muddy Boots succeeds admirably as an introductory survey of the early American travel experience. The content and organization is highly organized and the text is clearly written with a breadth of expression and vivid richness in detail. The narrative flows as smoothly as a raft or keelboat down a lazy river, inticing readers to look ahead arouund the next bend to discover a time when travel was a true adventure and arguably the most democratic conveyance available to a young, yet hopeful nation. ”
 — Journal of Transport History

“Every chapter, in any order, will constitute a well-spent and informative read. Journey with this book soon!”
 — National Railway Historical Society Bulletin

“White provides a comprehensive and highly readable examination of travel in the US during the 19th century . . . Throughout this massive work, the author repeatedly captures the romance, flavor, and color associated with travel. . . . Although White indicates that he designed this study for lay readers, everyone, including scholars of transportation, technology, and social and cultural life, will find valuable material. . . . Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

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