Wallace Stegner first published "The Sound of Mountain Water" in 1969. By that time in American history, the notion of “going west” was already folklore.
The completion of the transcontinental railroad exactly one century earlier in May of 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah, opened the door to the West like no other innovation had previously done.
Yet, even with the new railroad, Americans loaded up wagons and eventually the first automobiles - and pointed them west. The roads were primitive and the great unknown was omnipresent. It was a dangerous proposition where many met their fates.
Once the early trailblazers and pioneers had led the way, a new group of Americans began to make their way west. Authors, poets, and photographers began to discover the West.
It inspired a generation to create.
By the end of the 20th century, some could argue that the mystique of the West had certainly been diminished. It had been photographed, it was the subject of many films and books. Reliable automobiles made the remote, accessible. And the age of jet air travel made the distant seem close.
Yet the allure of the West persists.
However, these photographs are not relics from a previous time; they are modern depictions of the West as it looks in the early 21st century.
While the old moniker “The Wild West”, may be now relegated to history, the West today remains as it ever was: a place of vast open spaces, natural wonders, and a bristling sense of adventure so atavistic it can never be tamed.