Seeing the Elephant

“‘Seeing the Elephant,’ though it had pre- and post-gold rush currency, was an immensely popular expression among the overlanders (and those who went to see as well—although they sometimes spoke of ‘seeing the Shark’ . . .) connoting, in the main, experiencing hardship and difficulty and somehow surviving. Emigrant diaries and letters are filled with humorous references to that ubiquitous animal.”