Travel Book of Historic Road Trips

Coast to Coast Dust Jacket
Coast to Coast Dust Jacket

Destination: North America

Book:  Coast to Coast: Vintage Travel in North America (publisher The Vendome Press 2008) Originally published in French by Editions du Chéne (2008)

I have talked before about Vendome Press and their wonderful travel books.  When they sent me Coast to Coast for review, I could not stop raving about how beautiful it is.  This is a book that you want to hold, and caress, and pore over for hours and hours.  Not only does it reprint beautiful old photographs, but the publisher has hidden little treats throughout the book, like miniature vintage menus and reproductions of tickets and postcards.

Vendome publishes a series of vintage travel books, many of them reprints of classic travel literature. I cannot imagine a more beautiful book than this. It is the best time travel book I have seen. And while it weighs a ton and qualifies as a coffee table book, it is not the book that will merely sit on the table gathering dust. If your forebears, like mine, were avid travelers, you will see them on page after page.

The book takes a road trip down the East Coast, then works it way West, region by region with period photographs. The two perky turn-of-the-century gentlemen on the dust cover, wearing their fedoras and perched on Pulpit Rock in Utah, invite you on a grand adventure. Even the hardback cover itself entices with a turn of the century photograph of a beach in Maine.

The book is definitely driven by the period photographs, many of them from advertisements.

Advertisement in Coast to Coast
Modes of Transportation, 1910 Lithograph, reproduced in Coast to Coast

Don’t expect to see every state or even site you may find interesting. Instead, this collection resembles one you would find in an old family box of travel memorabilia, on the closet shelf in Grandma’s house. It hits the high points of early twentieth century travel in the United States and Canada.

With ever increasing speed, travelers got around on stagecoach, canal boat, steamboat and then railroad. From 15 miles a day to the train that advertised itself as the “Mile a Minute”. The first rickety airplanes started flying, and off we went, criss-crossing the country. Imagine what those who whine about the discomforts of flying by jet today would have to say if they had to travel  by canal boat?

Once travel in America meant exploring new lands. Once Lewis and Clark had shown the way from East to West, and stagecoaches had carried families to new homes on the frontier, more and more people traveled just for the hell of it. You will see here what the railroads did to lure people West, what the government did to convince people to “See America First” and to reach out to Europeans to travel in America.

The brief text in each section relies heavily on quotations from people and newspapers from the period– New York Times, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens. It gives us snapshots of the traveler’s life in our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ travel days.

List price for this book is $55.00, but Amazon has[amazonify]0865652597::text:::: Coast to Coast [/amazonify]advertised for less.

The interesting authors of Coast to Coast include Antony Shugaar, writer and translator from French and Italian, who lives in Virginia; Marc Walter, graphic designer, lives in Paris, most recently published Empire Splendor; and Catherine Donzel whose most recently wrote Luxury Liners: Life on Board.

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Were your grandparents travelers, like mine were? Camping their way form Ohio to Florida? Restless to hit the road, take a train or a bus to the Rockies?

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

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