Thoreau's "Journey West:"  Westward I Go Free

     The 1861 trip that led Henry David Thoreau & Horace Mann, Jr., from Massachusetts to Minnesota


        The Men     |     The Journey West     |     The Route     |     Resources     |     Current Events

Henry David Thoreau

Horace Mann, Jr.

Map of the Route

Follow the Anniversary of the Journey West on Facebook & Twitter!


Follow HDTsJourneyWest on Twitter




Cover Design: Kathy Haasch. Cover Credits: Henry David Thoreau, Abigail Rorer; Walden Tracks, Corinne H. Smith.




Westward I Go Free:
Tracing Thoreau's Last Journey

By Corinne Hosfeld Smith
With a Foreword by Laura Dassow Walls

Published in 2012 by Green Frigate Press
ISBN 978-1927043301
460-page paperback $28.95

In 1861, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
embarked on a “Journey West” with
Horace Mann, Jr. The duo used railroads and
riverboats to travel from Massachusetts to
Minnesota and back. The details of this last,
longest, and least-known of Thoreau’s
excursions have been veiled in mystery …
until now. Westward I Go Free is the story of
two 19th-century men and the 21st-century
woman who was determined to follow
their 4,000+-mile path.

Order now through
The Thoreau Society Shop at Walden Pond,
independent bookstores, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, or Powell's City of Books.
(Booksellers can order through IPG.)

Read a review from the Henderson (MN) Independent

Read a review from the Sunday News (Lancaster PA)
(Sorry, you'll have to turn it counterclockwise)

Advance praise for Westward I Go Free:

     "Anyone interested in Henry David Thoreau, and especially those of us who mourn for the book he might have written about his late-in-life journey to the Midwest, will be grateful for Westward I Go Free.  Meticulously researched, brimming with energy and wit, it admirably fills an omission that previous biographies have been content to skip over."    ~ Jerry Dennis, author of The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas

     "Since Thoreau never wrote or lectured about the many wonderful people and scenes he encountered, this excursion's exposure has been limited for a century and a half.  Now scholar Corinne H. Smith has illuminated his 'Journey West.'  In her superbly written and researched book, she takes us to the places where Thoreau went and describes them, then and now.  In addition, she enriches each segment of their trip with her own 'Thoreauvian adventure,' which reveals fascinating connections with Thoreau and others. ... Corinne Smith's insightful, moving, and inspiring account of Thoreau's 'Journey West' is a great pleasure to read and a most significant contribution to our understanding of the author of Walden."       ~ J. Parker Huber, author of The Wildest Country:  Exploring Thoreau's Maine

     "Tracing Henry David Thoreau's longest, last, and least-known journey from his home in Concord, Massachusetts to Minnesota, Corinne H. Smith has woven a complex tapestry of history, biography and acute observation that would delight the sage of Walden Pond.  In joining Thoreau's 1861 trip to her contemporary travels on the same route, Smith becomes a true 'deep traveler:' not a tourist merely, but an explorer.  Along the way, readers will not only get to know Thoreau and his young companion, Horace Mann, but such diverse characters as U.S. Grant, John Muir, Frank Lloyd Wright and a 20th-century Canadian artist bearing the first name Thoreau. ... Packed with facts and astute perceptions, this is a book Thoreau would have eagerly devoured.       ~ David K. Leff, author of Deep Travel:  In Thoreau's Wake on the Concord and Merrimack

The Men | The Journey West | The Route
Resources | Current Events | Home

©2014 Corinne H. Smith