First By Land

The river that disappointed him bears his name, but Alexander Mackenzie’s great achievement in slogging to the Pacific is now almost forgotten.

The most momentous event in the geographical history of the North American continent, aside from its discovery, was the first complete crossing of it from coast to coast—a feat that was three centuries in the doing. This epochal achievement first confirmed the guesses of civilized man about the breadth and structure of the continent and led directly to the opening up of the West. Yet millions of Americans—indeed, most of us—know neither the date it was done nor the name of the man who did it. Read more »