Photos of & words about the American West

"It was westering and westering. Every man wanted something for himself, but the big beast that was all of them wanted only westering. I was the leader, but if I hadn't been there, someone else would have been the head. The thing had to have a head.

Under the little bushes the shadows were black at white noonday. When we saw the mountains at last, we cried - all of us. But it wasn't getting here that mattered, it was movement and westering.

We carried life out here and set it down the way those ants carry eggs. And I was the leader. The westering was as big as God, and the slow steps that made the movement piled up and piled up until the continent was crossed."

-John Steinbeck, "The Leader of the People"

"I've heard Americans debate where the West begins: Texans say the Brazos River; in St. Louis it's the Mississippi, and they built a very expensive "Gateway Arch" to prove it; Philadelphians say the Alleghenies; in Brooklyn it's the Hudson; and on Beacon Hill the backside of the Common. But, of course, the true West begins with the western state lines of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota."

-William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways





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