Access Type

Online access to this book is only available to eligible users.



Download Full Text (12.4 MB)


Among the hundreds captivated by the vision of quick riches in the gold fields of California was Elisha Douglass Perkins, a tall handsome youth from Marietta, Ohio, who has here left a remarkable first-hand account of the great trek westward in 1849. Perkins’s diary is an unusually full and intimate record of crossing the plains and mountains of the Great West.

Extensive notes supplement the text, associating it with numerous other published and unpublished accounts, while an appendix of reports and letters from the Marietta newspaper reveals the involvement of those at home with the Gold Rush. An annotated map shows Perkins's progress along the Overland Trail.

Thomas D. Clark is widely known for his many books on the South and the frontier. He is Distinguished Professor in the Department of History at the University of Kentucky.

"What is untypical about Perkins’s account is his narrative and descriptive powers and the skill of his editor, Thomas Clark, who has masterfully placed Perkins in the perspective of his times. Indeed Clark’s Perkins joins the select handful of other gold rush diaries such as Potter’s and Morgan’s Pritchard as deserving a place in every collection of Western Americana.”—Library Journal

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Elisha Douglass Perkins, California, Gold Rush, Frontier life, Pioneer life, Overland Trail


United States History


Edited by Thomas D. Clark

Gold Rush Diary: Being the Journal of Elisha Douglass Perkins on the Overland Trail in the Spring and Summer of 1849
Read Sample Off-campus Download