Western Superlatives

“It was a rare diarist or letter writer who did not at least once term some phenomenon ‘romantic,’ or ‘the greatest natural curiosity’ ever seen. Most of all, the emigrants viewed the West as larger than  life; it was with superlatives that the overlanders reported the West to their countrymen and the world.

The scenery was the grandest they had ever seen, the trees the tallest, the natural roads the finest, the water the best, the grass the most luxuriant, the wind the strongest, the rainstorms the heaviest, the hailstones the largest, the lightning the brightest, the thunder the loudest, the rainbows the most brilliant, the mountains the most spectacular, the grasshoppers the biggest, the meat of the buffalo and the mountain sheep the juiciest, the Indians the handsomest, the rapid temperature changes the most phenomenal—the list is as endless as there were phenomena to describe.”