The main one is A Year in the Great Republic volume 2 of 2.  Emily Katherine (sic) Bates.  London: Ward and Downey 1887.  I refer to this in the text as GR2.

Twenty years after the trip, Kat published a kind of spiritualist memoir, Seen and Unseen.  Emily Katherine (sic) Bates.  London: Greening and Co.  1907.  In it she added more information on the seances she had been to during the Year, and the spiritualists she had met.  I refer to this in the text as S/U.

Kat’s own source: on GR2 p1 she warns travellers not to put too much faith in statements made in Appleton’s Guide.  Perhaps she put too much faith in her own!  Kat’s most likely to have been using Appleton’s General Guide to the US and Canada, issued every year from 1879 to 1901; and its specialist guide to the North East of the USA, issued yearly from 1853.  However she might also have been able to pick up a copy of the 1876 guide to the American cities and the 1877 guide to winter resorts; and there was a specialist guide to the US south and south-west, published 1882. 

Source: wikipedia on Appleton’s Guides, which were published from as early as the 1840s by the firm D Appleton and Co of New York.  The firm began by issuing railway guides but in 1848 it issued its first tourist handbook.  The 1848 handbook only covered the USA but Appleton and Co later published guides to Canada, Europe and Latin America. 



Kat Bates was born in 1846, the youngest child of a Church of England cleric.  Both her parents had died by the time she was 10.  When she was 25 she inherited enough of an income to make her financially independent.  She was already widely travelled by 1885 but had never ventured quite so far, or for so long, before.  She was ready to rough it if necessary, and for a particular end in view, but she wasn’t really a pioneer.  She usually stayed in hotels; with friends or relations; or with people she had a letter of introduction to.  She isn’t good on dates!


For more on Kat’s life see my life-by-dates files. 



It seems astonishing to me but Kat had met the woman she calls Miss Greenlow only a short time before the two of them set out for the United States and Canada.  The trip was of the kind that can put a strain on any friendship: they were intending to be away for twelve months, and to travel in the relatively remote parts of the western states, as well as the sophisticated north east.  At least when they set out, Miss Greenlow knew very little about Kat’s past and was not acquainted with most of her friends.  However, they seem to have survived the experience with their friendship intact, due in large part, I think, to Miss Greenlow’s “very self-contained and unemotional”, phlegmatic character.  Miss Greenlow was, like Kat, a woman of independent means; I think those means were rather larger than Kat’s although their difference in income doesn’t seem to have caused problems between them.

Source: GR1 p199, p205; S/U p22, p26, p228.

Comment on Miss Greenlow’s identity from Sally Davis: I think ‘greenlow’ is one of Kat’s pseudonyms – she uses them a lot in her books.  I certainly haven’t been able to find much evidence of a likely ‘miss greenlow’ in the usual family history sources.





Because the west-bound train they wanted to take was late, Kat and Miss Greenlow had a couple of hours sleep, back at Peach Springs.  They were woken up at four in the morning to catch it.  A short time after it left Peach Springs, going round a tight bend in the dark, it hit a stationary freight train that had lost its engine-tender and some carriages over an embankment.  The force of the crash involving Kat’s train pushed the carriages of the freight train westwards along the line, so that they hit an eastward-bound train coming towards them.  The eastward-bound train’s engine-tender and the remaining freight carriages were all wrecked and all their contents were tossed out all over the embankment – food in tins, furniture, even a piano!  The engine-tender of Kat and Miss Greenlow’s train also went over the embankment.  One carriage went with it but the rest of the train stayed on the track.  The driver, stoker and two other men travelling in the engine-tender jumped out in time and escaped with bruises; Kat thought that if the train had been travelling any faster, people would have been killed. 


Kat, Miss Greenlow and the other passengers on the west-bound train were taken back to Peach Springs at eleven that night.  Kat was expecting a delay of days, but a track around the crash site was laid down within 24 hours, so that at eleven the next night, Kat and Miss Greenlow were able to set off to California for the second time.


GR2 pp59-63; and p66 for gossip that Kat heard at Barstow Junction (see below) that there had been seven train accidents in the last sixty days, costing the Atlantic and Pacific Line (specifically that company, not the AT&SF) $50,000.

In Kat’s Do the Dead Depart?, published in 1908 (p66, p68) she says that after the crash, she climbed down the embankment to have a look at the extent of the damage.  This was another occasion during her travels in the US when Kat was glad to have her mother watching over her, contactable via spiritualist séance when things got really tough.

Via to issues of the Arizona Champion – which was published at Peach Springs.  The issues of Sat 6 March 1886 p3 and Sat 3 April 1886 p3 both mention accidents to freight trains along the Atlantic and Pacific railroad – soon to be taken over by the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fé company.  Neither of the two sound quite like the one Kat and Miss Greenlow’s train got involved in: the dates and places don’t fit.  Perhaps – seeing no one was killed in Kat’s train wreck – it wasn’t thought news-worthy by the local papers! 

Kat doesn’t mention him in GR2 but while looking through the issue of the Arizona Champion published on Sat 6 March 1886 p3 I noticed a reference to Geronimo.  He had left his tribe’s reservation near Deming, was refusing to return, and had taken several hostages.  

See wikipedia for the life of Gerónimo Mescalero Chiricahua (1829-1909), of the Chiricahua Apaches; their medicine man rather than their tribal chief, but the best military tactician amongst them.  When Kat and Miss Greenwood were in that part of the US, he and his followers were staging their third break-out from the reservation they had been sent to in 1885.  They were at large until 1886 when they surrendered to the Apache-speaking Lieutenant Charles Bare Gatewood.  Gerónimo was sent to Florida to join other Apaches, and died in Oklahoma, hundreds of miles from his ancestral lands.



Kat and Miss Greenlow’s train passed the peaks called the Needles early in the morning, crossing the Colorado River into California. Then it went through “more dreary country of the usual type, sand varied by small bushes of pignone” to Daggett, “the climax of desolate heat and dreariness”.  Then it had to wait at Barstow Junction for three hours until an excursion train caught them up.  When the excursion train arrived, all the passengers from both trains were herded into one, and sent on their way; and Kat met some interesting new people – a journalist collecting information for a local newspaper; and an elderly man “who seemed rather given to tippling”.  The journalist and the man with the alcohol habit had a discussion about the native American Indians in which the journalist said that they could be improved with the right amount of civilisation and education; and the older man – who had lived with Indians for many years – thought nothing would change them and that “extermination, not education, was the only possible treatment for them”.  Kat thought the older man’s  views were“pessimistic”; however, her own enquiries amongst US officials working with the Indians had caused her to reach the same conclusion.


The train got into Colton at nine at night.  Guided by its bell, the passengers walked half a mile in the pitch dark through “deep sand” to the refreshment room, where “tough mutton” and the usual weak coffee were all that was available.  Then they struggled across the sand again back to the train to sleep until woken at 2.30, when the train reached Los Angeles.  Kat and Miss Greenlow had written ahead to book themselves into the Pico House hotel, but when they arrived at the front desk – 29 hours late – they were told that an excursion party had taken all the rooms.  They collected their post and went to try to find somewhere else to stay, eventually being offered“two small rooms, about as big and airy as a dog kennel” at about four.  They were able to move into the Pico House after a few days but that night, they were happy just to have a bed  – the first they had slept in for three days.

Source: GR2 pp63-64.

Comments by Sally Davis:

On the Needles.  They are mountain peaks with wind-scoured holes, only visible from the Colorado River.  When Kat and Miss Greenlow glimpsed them from their train, they must have been on the bridge over the river.  There was a railroad depot near the bridge, set up in 1883 when the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fé  chose their river-crossing point. Although the railroad depot soon had all the hallmarks of a town in the south-west USA - saloons and a Chinese laundry - the AT&SF’s choice of bridge site wasn’t a good one: three bridges were swept away by floods, in 1884, 1886 (so Kat was lucky she got across it) and 1888.  In 1890 the AT&SF chose a less vulnerable site 10 miles down-river. 

Source for Needles California: its wikipedia page.  In the mid-20th century it was an important stopping place on Route 66.

On the problem of the native American Indians: many times in Kat’s travel writings she shows herself to be typical of her age, race and class in her attitude to conquered peoples.  I’d like to think that we were all wiser and more humble now.  Kat had read some at least of Helen Hunt Jackson’s writing, which drew attention to the number of times the US Government had reneged on its promises to Indian tribes all across the country; but it didn’t change her views on the Indian people.  Perhaps Jackson’s arguments had made Kat uncomfortable, though – in GR2 she passes very quickly on from the subject, to describe sunset over Los Angeles, which they saw as the train pushed on to Colton. 

See her wikipedia page for Helen Hunt Jackson, née Fiske (1830-1885) Indian activist, poet, writer and friend of Emily Dickinson.  Jackson’s history A Century of Dishonor, published in 1881, and her novel Ramona (1884), were amongst the first to look at the ‘problem’ of the native American Indians from the Indians’ point of view. 

Source for Kat having read Helen Hunt Jackson’s “charming stories on the virtues and wrongs of the noble savage”: GR2 p67.  And on GR2 p75 Kat mentions Ramona specifically, though as a “delightful romance” rather than a novel with a message.  I don’t think she read Jackson’s  historical account.

On Colton, near San Bernadino, still one of the busiest railroad crossing points in the USA.  The California Southern Railroad first crossed with the Southern Pacific Railroad at Colton in 1882, on a ranch owned by George Cooley who had moved there from Kent in 1853.  Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt and survivor the gunfight at the OK Corral, was marshall at Colton from 1883 to 1889 so he was in-post when Kat and Miss Greenlow’s train passed by.

Source: Colton’s wikipedia page.

On the Pico House hotel, which is now a landmark heritage building in both California and the USA as a whole.  It was built at 430 North Main Street Los Angeles, on the town’s main plaza, by Pío Pico who at one time was one of southern California’s wealthiest businessmen.  Its architecture was in the Italian style; and it had 80 rooms, so Kat and Miss Greenlow seem to have been particularly unlucky!  In the decades after they stayed there, Pico House declined in importance as the centre of Los Angeles moved away from the plaza.

Sources: plenty of websites very proud of Pico House, the first three-storey building in California, rescued from decades as a lodging house in 1953 when it was handed over to the State of California.

See also

The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space by William David Estrada 2009; p87.

Victorian Los Angeles: From Pío Pico to Angels Flight by Charles Epting 2015; p48.

On the excursion party who seem to have taken every room at Pico House:

They were with a travel company that Kat calls “ omnipotent a name as [Thomas] Cook in Palestine” and as like Thomas Cook’s tour groups only “rather more expensive and decidedly more exclusive” (GR2 p69, p77) – suggesting that she had travelled with Cook’s tours herself and hadn’t liked it; though she never mentions having done so in any of her books.  Seeing how the name of ‘Raymond’ opened doors and guaranteed hotel rooms, Kat began to wish that she and Miss Greenlow were travelling with them; but looking back while writing the Year in the Great Republic, she was glad they kept their independence – on the whole.

Kat must mean the Raymond and Whitcomb Travel Association of San Francisco and Boston, founded by Walter Raymond who may be the person after whom the rail depot of Raymond California was named. 

Sources: GR2 p78; and a wiki on Raymond and Whitcomb and on the historical town of Raymond.



Kat and Miss Greenlow stayed in Los Angeles for three weeks – longer than they had intended but they were waiting for Yosemite valley to open after the winter.  Kat liked Los Angeles’ situation, the citrus trees and the views of the San Bernadino mountains.  She loved the city’s gardens, saying the spring flowers were better than she had seen on the Riviera.  She disliked the town itself, though, thinking it flat and dusty, and hated the weather she encountered, hot sun with a cold, piercing wind. 


Kat and Miss Greenlow made use of the cable car system to go up to Ellis College, a girls’ school with views over the orange and lemon groves towards the Sierra Madre mountains.  And they got away for a few days to the Sierra Madre Villa Hotel, 17 miles from Los Angeles via Pasadena and Lamanda.  While they were there they visited the San Gabriel valley and the Spanish mission, of which only the church remained, an “ugly little building” but with a fine set of bells. Sierra Madre Villa Hotel was at the end of its main holiday season when Kat and Miss Greenlow stayed there.  Kat liked the grounds and was once again reminded of the Riviera, but the heat – 96°F in the shade – was accompanied by damp, so she found it harder to endure than higher temperatures in the dry Grand Canyon. However, a group of ‘Raymond’ travellers arrived during Kat’s short stay, including an acquaintance from Boston, Dr Phillips Brooks, episcopalian bishop of Massachusetts.  Kat and Miss Greenlow went to hear Dr Brooks preach in a church at Pasadena.


Kat was ill throughout her time in Los Angeles.  She blamed it on the climate and the water and thought that between them, they had had a permanent negative effect on her health.  Once installed in Pico House Hotel with a room overlooking the plaza she spent several days in bed.  She was therefore able to watch the antics of Madame Duflot, an Italian dentist and doctor married to a French doctor, who was plying her trade in the plaza each afternoon.  Duflot did teeth extractions and sold three medicines“said to be manufactured from Egyptian herbs” to a recipe which was “a family secret”.

Sources: for Kat’s stay in Los Angeles, where her poor health definitely coloured her opinion of what she saw: GR2 pp70-72; Madame Duflot GR2 pp72-75 – taking up more space than Kat’s description of the town; Sierra Madre Villa Hotel GR2 pp75-76., meeting Dr Brooks pp79-80.

Comments by Sally Davis beginning with: it’s really hard to imagine Los Angeles without the film industry!  And – for me – it’s hard to imagine Pasadena as orange groves rather than as the Jet Propulsion Lab and CalTech.

On the gardens in Los Angeles.  Kat mentioned two in particular.  One was on Long Street and belonged to Mrs Long; I couldn’t find any information on it.  The other was owned, Kat said, by a Mr Hellaback, who doesn’t seem to have existed and I think Kat meant Hollenbeck.  Hollenbeck Park, in Boyle Heights, has been a public park since 1892, given to the city by the widow of its owner, John Edward Hollenbeck (1829-85), founder of the First National Bank.

Source: Hollenbeck Park’s wikipedia entry and  It’s at 415 South St Louis. 

On Ellis College:

This was very hard to find, though via //, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, I did see references to it in issues of the Los Angeles Herald, all from 1886.  There was also a brief mention of it in An Illustrated History of Southern California issued by Lewis Publishing and seen via google; in its chapter The History of Los Angeles County, p7.4 it was listed as being in western Los Angeles and standing in its own grounds.  I couldn’t find a modern reference to the building so I suppose it no longer exists.

On Madame Duflot all I could find, again via //, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, was her own account of herself, published on p5 of the Los Angeles Herald of Sat 8 May 1886 after she and her husband had been in the town for four weeks.  Madame Duflot told the newspaper that she was Italian, 36, and born in Como into a family famed as dentists.  She had qualified at the National College of Surgery and Medicine and after several years in practice (I think she meant, as a dentist) had moved to Paris where she had gained a diploma a the Medical Institute and married her husband, Paul Duflot.  They had then both come to the USA and gained diplomas at Chicago State College of Surgery and Medicine.  Madame Duflot’s English was still not good, so she was using an interpreter when treating her patients. 


The only other information I could find for the Duflots was Kat’s own account, in GR2.  Kat inspected Madame Duflot’s medicines, which were a “green liquid in a small bottle”, a “green salve” and “a box of powder which, when mixed with water, made a strong and sweet vegetable tonic”.  Kat saw Madame Duflot do an almost-miracle cure on a man unable to walk for many years, using the green powder vegetable tonic.  Perhaps that persuaded Kat to try it; she said it tasted “uncommonly like the Gregory powder of our childhood”.


I wonder where the Duflots went after Kat watched Madame in May 1886?  I must say, the medicines sound like snake oil to me, but I daresay they had a placebo effect, including on Kat.

On Sierra Madre Villa Hotel: it no longer exists, but there are some photographs of it on the web, on Sierra Madre’s wikipedia page; and at //, which says that it opened for business in 1876.  It stood in its own vineyards and citrus groves and was a pioneer of the ‘summer resort’.  It was 5 miles from Pasadena, nearest station Lamanda.  In 1887 a sanatorium for people with nervous exhaustion opened next door – Kat could have used a stay there, the year before.

Source for the sanatorium: //, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, its Los Angeles Herald volume 29 number 44 issue of Sat 15 November 1887 announcing that it was now open for business.

On the mission of San Gabriel: see its wiki, it’s still in business as a Roman Catholic Mission, correct name Misión San Gabriel Arcángel.  Founded in 1771, the fourth of the 21 such missions in California.  After a flood destroyed the original site by the Río Hondo, the buildings were moved 5 miles to the Indian village of lisanchanga – now Los Angeles. 



Eventually Kat, Miss Greenlow and all the other people who were waiting, heard that Yosemite was open for the tourist season.  Kat and Miss Greenlow went by the Southern Pacific Railroad to Berenda, changing trains at Barstow Junction where their connecting train was “two hours late as usual”.  The train reached Berenda at five o’clock in the morning, still two hours late, but this meant the passengers only had to stand waiting by the track (there was nowhere to sit or shelter) for half an hour before their next train arrived, taking them along the newly-opened branch line to Raymond, from where stage-coaches operated into Yosemite.  At Raymond everyone “breakfasted in a tent, completely covered in flies” and then got straight onto the stage-coach for the eleven-hour drive to the route’s mid-way point, the inn at “Clark’s”.  Kat had been very anxious that her time in Yosemite shouldn’t be delayed until the spring flowers had gone over; and she enjoyed the “carpets” of them that “surrounded us on all sides”.  Likewise the trees, “magnificent scenes” of pines and cedars.


The road from Raymond to Clark’s had been open tfor hree weeks after the winter, and was in relatively good condition.  The road from Clark’s to Yosemite was terrible and the stage coaches didn’t stop except to change horses until they reached the valley – from seven in the morning to three in the afternoon.  Despite all the jolting, Kat was thrilled by the views, especially the first glimpse of El Capitán.  The Ribbon Fall, Widow’s Tears and Bridal Veil waterfalls were still full of water as the snows melted.  


Kat and Miss Greenlow found rooms at Barnard’s Hotel .  They were on the ground floor.  As the hotel had a verandah right round it, they had to keep the blinds down all the time to get any privacy.  But the inconvenience was worth it for the hotel’s view of the Yosemite Fall.  They stayed there for a fortnight.


Source for Kat’s journey: GR2 pp83-89 and pp91-93 for the number of accidents that took place along the stage coach route, even during Kat’s stay at Yosemite; some passengers were injured severely enough to have to be taken to hospital in San Francisco: Kat said that the “very sharp curves of the road taken by a stage with six horses are serious matters”.  One accident was prevented from being any worse by the prompt action of a young woman passenger who grabbed the reins at the critical moment and guided the horses over against the hill, overturning the coach but preventing it from going over the precipice on the other side of the road.

Comments by Sally Davis:

There’s information on Raymond at but as a railroad station of historic interest – the railroad track was taken up in the 1940s.  The Southern Pacific Railroad reached it in 1886 – perhaps Kat had to wait for the track to be laid, as well as the snow to have melted sufficiently.  It was the main way into Yosemite from 1886 to 1907, and also handled granite from nearby quarries and goods from and for the San Joaquin Valley.  When Kat and Miss Greenlow passed through, Charles Miller was the railroad company’s agent in the town and also the proprietor of the stage service.  His house is still there.


In 1864 the Yosemite valley became the first land in the USA to be set aside for public use. 

Tourism there began as early as 1869 and you could get there by stage-coach from the mid-1870s.  By 1871, an artist who had been painting there for several years was able to bemoan the arrival of telegraph wires and a saloon.  J K Barnard had taken over the hotel Hutching’s House in 1877; he ran it until 1893.  Its Big Tree room became quite well known; art exhibitions were held in it.  Just before Kat and Miss Greenlow arrived, Barnard had a windmill installed to ensure the buildings had a regular water supply. 

Sources for Yosemite and Barnard’s Hotel:

Wikipedia pages of Yosemite National Park and Mariposa Grove.  Just noting here that the sheer wall of El Capitán was not climbed until 1958.

Website gives Glacier Point’s height above sea level as 6400 feet.  See the website for the view which Kat had from the top, along the length of Yosemite valley.

At //, run by the University of California, there are some photographs of the early days in Yosemite including one of Barnard’s Hotel, with the waterfall and El Capitán in the background. 

Yosemite by Kate Nearpass Ogden published 2015; p63. 

Yosemite and Sequoia: A Century of California’s National Parks by Richard J Orsi, Alfred Runte and Marlene Smith-Baranzini 1990; p40 and footnote 14.

Yosemite, the Park and Its Resources by Linda W Greene.  US Department of the Interior, National Park Service 1987.  On p120 Greene says that Hutchings was evicted in 1875.  P149 for Barnard’s period as manager of the hotel.



The day after their arrival, Kat (but not Miss Greenlow) climbed up to the base of the Yosemite Falls, getting wet through but having a “glorious view of the boiling, seething waters” of its plunge-pool.  Later the same day she and Miss Greenlow went by horse and carriage to Cascade Falls, returning via the Bridal Veil Fall where the setting sun was creating a rainbow.  The day after, they went to see Mirror Lake, where “everything seemed to be turned to gold” before joining a long line of tourists on horseback riding up the Merced River to the Vernal and Nevada Falls.  Kat’s horse Jack embarrassed her by being determined to be first in the line always, but there were wonderful views of Mount Broderick, the Cap of Liberty and the Half Dome.  Later in their stay, Kat and Miss Greenlow made the three-hour trip up to Glacier Point.  Even on horseback Kat found the steep ascent very tiring, but she was thrilled to see the views to both ends of the valley.  She urged her women readers not to be put off by tales she had heard about how difficult and dangerous this route was.  Though the path looked like “a mere perpendicular thread”, Kat was sure no woman with experience of riding in the Alps would have any difficulties.  She and Miss Greenlow had done their homework before setting out – they had discovered the existence of a small inn at Glacier Point.  They booked rooms there and didn’t have to go back down that day.  Instead, as the sun set, they rode up Sentinel Dome, “a stiff ascent of three-quarters of an hour, through a pine forest”.  At the top, they got off their horses and crept “like flies” along a granite ledge above a precipice, more or less perpendicular and slippery with melting snow; Miss Greenlow “had a fall and a good fright” but with the help of two guides they both got across the peak.  The quickest way back down was by using a saddle-cloth to toboggan down the slope.  When the saddle-cloth got stuck on a branch, Kat was tossed off into the snow; she walked the rest of the way down, through snow up to her knees.  Miss Greenlow stayed on the saddle-cloth and arrived at the bottom with her legs stuck out, her arms round her guide’s neck and her bonnet on the side of her head, Kat and her guide doubled-up with laughter at her woebegone face.

Source: GR2 pp92-103.



Comment by Sally Davis: when Kat was writing up her Year in the Great Republic, one of her aims was to leave her readers better-prepared than she and Miss Greenlow had been, if they were thinking of travelling in the American West.  Getting very ill was one thing she couldn’t prepare people for, however; and on the trip out of Yosemite Kat was very ill indeed.  Too many  journeys over bad roads; days of exhausting trips in clothes that ended up soaking wet; and having no time to recover from the ill-health she’d suffered from in Los Angeles, had taken their toll.  By the end of their stay in Yosemite even the phlegmatic Miss Greenlow was worried about the state Kat was in.

On the day Kat and Miss Greenlow were due to take the stage coach back to Raymond, they both thought Kat was “Too ill really to be moved”.  For much of the journey she was “too ill to speak”.  They had tried to change the day they were to leave.  When that proved impossible, they had tried to arrange to remain at Clark’s for a day or two so that Kat could rest.  The stage coach company couldn’t guarantee seats from Clark’s to Raymond for another ten days, though, so Kat did the whole trip without relief, including an unexpected  and unwelcome fourteen-hour excursion off the stage coach road to Mariposa Grove.  Kat managed to climb on one fallen  sequoia trunk.  She picked up and took away with her some pieces of bark which - she was able to report - made good pincushions until they fell apart. 


Back at Clark’s , Kat couldn’t sleep and anyway, all those going to Raymond were roused out of their beds at 3am to have a quick breakfast before getting on the stage coach again.  The stage coach reached Raymond just in time for travellers to catch the midnight sleeper train to San Francisco.  The train was very hot and crowded and Kat began to suffer a high temperature and sickness.  A doctor who was on the train gave her some brandy and found enough cushions for her to lie down.  The train reached Oakland an hour late.  They had to take a later ferry than the one they had hoped for, and missed the best of the sunset.  But the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, offered everything they were most in need of - “good beds, comfort, cleanliness and peace”.


GR2 pp103-111.  It’s symptomatic of Kat’s state of mind that the one thing she remembered clearly of the stage coach journey was that the flowers had all gone over.  She doesn’t mention anything about the train journey other than the heat, the doctor and the noise the other passengers were making; she obviously couldn’t remember any of the places she passed through.


Comments by Sally Davis: Mariposa Grove is at the southern end of the land included in the 1864 Act of Congress that set up the park.  There are several hundred sequoias in and around the Grove, most between 1900 and 2400 years old.  Though she didn’t remember much about the excursion Kat did remember the carriage she was in being driven right through a hole cut in one of the trees – the Wawona Tunnel tree, whose tunnel was cut in 1881; the tree fell in 1969.  The Fallen Monarch and the Fallen Giant were both on the ground by the time of Kat’s visit; she doesn’t name the tree she climbed on. 


There is still a Palace Hotel on the corner of Market and New Montgomery streets in San Francisco.  The current building is the third on the site, though.  Kat and Miss Greenlow stayed in the first, built in 1875 and for the next 10 years the tallest building in the city.  With 755 rooms, it was also the largest hotel in the western USA.  It had been designed with an open space in the middle, lit by skylights.  In Kat’s time, carriages drove into that space for their passengers and luggage to alight so that’s how Kat will have arrived.  Each room had a private bath; staff could be summoned by use of an electric bell; and the hotel had four elevators.  Though this building survived the earthquake of 18 April 1906 it was gutted by one of the fires that broke out afterwards, and had to be demolished.


Wikipedia pages of Yosemite National Park and Mariposa Grove;  and the Palace Hotel including a photograph of the building Kat stayed in.  And for the modern hotel.



Arrived at the Palace Hotel, Kat and Miss Greenlow took stock and decided to have a rest at Monterey before seeing San Francisco.  They took a train the following morning through the Santa Clara valley to Hotel del Monte - “a paradise of beauty, cleanliness and comfort”, Kat called it - intending to spend a week there but finally staying for nearly a fortnight.  They went to the beach; visited the Misión at Carmel; and took a train trip to Santa Cruz to see another famous grove of trees.


Source for the decision and the stay: GR2 pp112-116.

Comment by Sally Davis: if Kat had not been so ill I think she and Miss Greenlow would not have gone to Monterey at all, or certainly not for so long.  The Hotel del Monte was an estate just outside Monterey that had been developed as a leisure resort by the Pacific Improvement Company, a property development arm of the Southern Pacific Railroad, both companies being owned by Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford and Collis P Huntington.  The hotel opened in 1880 and was acknowledged as one of the most luxurious in the Americas – there was a huge ballroom and a separate conservatory-like building with a swimming pool; there were even separate billiard rooms for men and women.  As with the Palace Hotel, the building Kat and Miss Greenlow stayed in didn’t last long – it burned down in 1887.  The grounds were an integral part of Crocker’s scheme for the resort.  There was already a 17-mile scenic drive in Kat and Miss Greenlow’s day; later the estate had a polo ground, race track and golf course.


The rest at Hotel del Monte was needed, probably by both travellers but certainly by Kat.  For a few days at least, she didn’t want to do anything more than walk about the gardens – 140 acres of them, full of colour and variety, under the management of Rudolph Ulrich, hired and given a generous budget to develop the Arizona Garden for which he became famous.  Soon, though, Kat began to find fault – there was no view of the sea from the hotel; the coast – when finally seen – was dull (I can’t agree with her there), looking too much like “the Waterloo sandhills” just outside Liverpool; there were no facilities for swimming in the ocean.  She decided she’d rather have stayed at Santa Cruz even though its hotels were not in the same league.


Kat and Miss Greenlow went on the 17-mile scenic drive.  Their route went to Pacific Grove, which had its own park, and then along the cliffs to see seals and sea lions at Seal Rock.  Then they went through Cypress Grove to Pebbly Beach and grubbed about in the sand for the rare stones that were sometimes found there, polished by the action of the water; Kat was not impressed by their own haul of stones.  The last mile or so of the circuit was a road maintained by the local county and was as bad as they were used to by now; unlike most of those they had travelled in, though, the Hotel’s carriage had very good springs.


Kat was not any more impressed by the mission buildings at Carmel than she had been by those in the San Gabriel valley, but she liked Carmel Bay, the hills surrounding it and Point Lobos.  By this time Kat thought herself well enough to climb a hill to get a sea view.  They couldn’t see the sea beyond a stand of eucalyptus but there was a panorama inland across fields of mustard flowers, which reminded Kat of a scene she had read about in Mrs Hunt Jackson’s Ramona.


The day after the trip to Carmel – Kat was really getting her strength back – they took a three-hour train trip north to Santa Cruz to take two carriage drives around the district.  The first was a five-mile trip along a road lined with buckeye trees to a grove which Kat called ‘Big Trees’.  I couldn’t find such a thing on the web and I think she meant Big Basin, California’s oldest state park, a mixture of California redwoods, oak woodland and chaparral.  Kat preferred the “smaller, but far more graceful” California redwoods to the sequoias of Mariposa Grove.  She preferred Santa Cruz as a whole to Monterey – the scenery was better and there were facilities for sea bathing (though I think she had no time to try them out).   Kat and Miss Greenlow’s second drive took them along the coast, including across a “tongue of land between two points of the cliff” only just wide enough for the carriage to pass. 


Sources: GR2 pp112-121.

For the Hotel del Monte: its wikipedia page.  There’s a photograph of the original hotel that Kat stayed in at, the web pages of the Pat Hathaway Photo Collection.

For Rudolph Ulrich, acknowledged as the developer of the Arizona Garden style see for an article on Ulrich by Julie Cain with quotes from California Gardens: Creating a New Eden by David Streatfield.

// the website of the Naval Postgraduate School that now inhabits Hotel del Monte.

// Sheri L Smith’s History of Hotel del Monte’s Arizona Garden which can be downloaded as a pdf.

I couldn’t find any references to Pebbly Beach having sea-polished precious or semi-precious stones. 

The day at Santa Cruz:

The buckeyes trees, which have several other names: see the wikipedia page of Aesculus glabra.

Websites and



Kat and Miss Greenlow set out early to take a roundabout route back to the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.  They stopped off to see Leland Stanford’s horse-breeding ranch at Menlo Park; where Kat fell for a “little chestnut, child of a famous sire, who was so well bred, strong and ‘clean in the legs’ that I longed to carry it off with me”.  Later in the day they also visited the country home of Mr Flood, whom Kat described as a banker.  In between the two outings they had lunch at a hotel Kat (wrongly) called the Menlo Hotel, which they found was run by an English officer, a Captain Swetnam. 

Sources: GR2 pp122-127 with quite a lot on trotting and a reference to an attempt to bomb the stage at the San Francisco Opera House during a performance by Adelina Patti, with Mr Flood in the audience.


There’s plenty of information on wikipedia and elsewhere on the lives and great business fortunes of Leland Stanford (1824-93) and James Clair Flood (1826-89).  Flood was an important shareholder in the Bank of Nevada but he had made his fortune as owner of a silver mine in the state, the Comstock Lode.  The Flood family’s country estate was at Menlo Park, now under Silicon Valley; the house Flood built there – Linden Towers – was demolished in 1936.

For Leland Stanford’s stock farm at Santa Clara, now the campus of Stanford University, see also and New Perspectives on the West. 

For more on the descendants of James C Flood, see

I haven’t found very much on the Captain Swetnam who served Kat and Miss Greenlow lunch.  He asked them to recommend his hotel to people, but Kat wasn’t much help to him – she got its name wrong in GR2, it was the Menlo Park Hotel.  Kat wrote that Captain Swetnam was a nephew of Lord Grantley but when I looked on wikipedia, and I couldn’t see how he fitted with the Norton family, barons Grantley.  I also couldn’t find information on his career in the British army.  He did run the hotel though.  The first issue of the California State Gazetteer and Business Directory published 1888 p522 has a J B Swetnam as proprietor of the Menlo Park Hotel.  And at //, the California Digital Newspaper Collection, Santa Cruz Sentinel volume 9 number 63 issue of 28 June 1888 p2 noted the death of a J H Swetnam, captain in the British Army and proprietor of the Menlo Park Hotel, Redwood City.

On Adelina Patti’s narrow escape, which took place after Kat’s stay in San Francisco but before she wrote GR2:

At findmypast, its collection of Irish newspapers: several of them reported the incident in their issues of 11 February 1887.  The Dublin Daily Express’ information came from the Reuters office in San Francisco.  None of them mentioned Flood’s presence.

Inventing Elsa Maxwell… by Sam Staggs 2012; seen via google so no page numbers quotes Julia Altrocchi’s The Spectacular San Franciscans for the bomb fizzling out and injuring no one but its thrower, a 70-year-old man.  Patti was in the wings, waiting to take a curtain call; she came out, wagged a reproving finger at the audience, and sang Home Sweet Home.

At the incident was mentioned in the issue of 3 April 1887 in a report on Patti’s return to New York after her successful tour.




20 April 2018



Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: