I continue to be amazed at how much work Merrill Mattes put into studying the history of the trails and of Scotts Bluff specifically. He seemed to have an inexhaustible curiosity about the emigrants and devoted much of his life to bringing their perspectives to light. His familiarity with the diaries and documents remains unparalleled. His personal records are kept at the University of Wyoming archives but the scope of this project does not offer much reason to make the trip.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading emigrants’ diaries and guidebooks. Their coverage of the journey, the surprising level of devotion they had to their task of transcribing their experiences, and the benefit that we accrue from being able to access these documents are remarkable. Unfortunately, I am so enthralled by their memoirs that I find myself reading too far into material that has no relevance to my search whatsoever. This is probably as much an indication of their value as it is my interest in the project. It has been interesting trying to re-train myself to skim where appropriate and focus on the material germane to my investigation – it has been a challenge but a fun one.