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Exploration

MORE AND MORE AMERICANS ARE PAYING A LOT OF MONEY TO PUT THEMSELVES IN MORTAL DANGER. WHY? AND WHY NOW?

After half a millennium we scarcely feel the presence of Spain in what is now the United States. But it is all around us.

In 1883 Walt Whitman received an it Santa Fe and deliver a poem at a celebration of the city’s founding. Read more >>

Here are some interesting facts about his epic voyage and its impact.

EXACTLY A YEAR FROM NOW THE WORLD WILL BE MARKING THE FIVE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT OF THE PAST MILLENNIUM. Read more >>

On their weathered stone battlements can
be read the whole history of the three-century
struggle for supremacy in the New World

On the northwest shoulder of South America, looking out over the blue waters of the Caribbean, an ancient citadel stands guard above a Spanish city. Three thousand miles to the north, where the Gulf of St. Read more >>

In July 1911 the author’s father climbed a remote ridge in Peru to discover, amid an almost impenetrable jungle, the fabled lost city of Machu Picchu, last capital of the Inca Empire. Or so the story goes.

In a new book, the political journalist and columnist Richard Reeves retraces Alexis de Tocqueville’s remarkable 1831-32 journey through America. Reeves's conclusion: Tocqueville not only deserves his reputation as the greatest observer of our democracy—he is an incomparable guide to what is happening in our country now.

When AMERICAN HERITAGE heard that Richard Reeves had undertaken to follow the route, one hundred and fifty years later, of a classic exploration of America’s people, places, and institutions, we as Read more >>

An exploration into the exploration of America

SENT ON A HOPELESSLY VAGUE ASSIGNMENT BY WOODROW WILSON, AMERICAN SOLDIERS FOUND THEMSELVES IN THE MIDDLE OF A FEROCIOUS SQUABBLE AMONG BOLSHEVIKS, COSSACKS, CZECHS, JAPANESE, AND OTHERS

During mid-August, 1918, American forces began landing at Vladivostok, the capital of the Soviet Maritime Territory, in one of the more curious side shows of the First World War. Read more >>

He was the first Englishman to give a detailed description of the North American wilderness. Was it a pack of lies?

“Does the name David Ingram mean anything to you?” I have been going around asking. The answer is almost always no. Yet if Ingram is to be believed, he and two others with him accomplished perhaps the outstanding walk in recorded history. Read more >>

One hundred years ago, Congress created two agencies—the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Ethnology. Both, according to the author, have since “given direction, form, and stimulation to the science of earth and the science of man, and in so doing have touched millions of lives.”

“Surveyor, mountain man, soldier, businessman, wanderer, captain of emigrants, farmer…he was himself the westward-moving frontier.”

In medias res: Fort Laramie on the Oregon-California Trail, June 27,1846, a day of reckoning. Read more >>

Why have Americans perceived nature as something to be conquered?

Most people who have reflected at all upon the known history of the Americas, particularly North America, have been impressed one way or another with its dominant quality of fierceness. Read more >>

Martín Pinzón of Palos

As you approach the village of Palos de la Frontera, some fifty miles west of Seville in Spain’s Analgesía, the squat little church of San J’orge looms in the foreground at the base of a rocky cliff that overlooks the tidal flats created by the mingling of th Read more >>

No event in the history of Western man provided so profound a shock as the discovery of America

America was an experience man could only have once. Knowledge of China, knowledge of Africa, festooned as it was with the Spanish moss of myth and legend, had penetrated Europe from the days of Imperial Rome and beyond. Read more >>

The discoverer of the New World was responsible for the annihilation of the peaceful Arawak Indians

After the American sailor's ship was captured, he was held a slave in Algeria for 15 years

1. Cathcart sails for Spain. Some account of his puerile adventures in the Revolution. He is captured by pirates, hauled to Algiers, and set to work for the dey. Rich garments and poor food. Read more >>

A Welsh waif adopted a new country and a new name and then became—thanks to a New York newspaper—the most famous African explorer of his time

On Sunday, December 8, 1872, the manager of the Theatre Comique on Broadway took the unusual step of buying up almost the entire front page of the New York Herald to puff the triumph of his latest presentation. Read more >>
On Christmas Day of 1849 a party of twenty-seven wagons heading through Nevada toward the California gold fields lumbered over a barren ridge and downhill into a desolate place. Read more >>

Was Columbus motivated by Norse discoveries, concealed over the centuries in misinterpreted maps?

In 1965 widespread interest was excited by the first publication of a fifteenth-century map showing “Vinland” and purporting to be the earliest cartographic representation of any part of the North American continent. Read more >>

Giacomo Beltrami’s discoveries were mostly illusory, but he had a glorious time making them, and the people of Minnesota have never forgotten his name.

In the serious story of the exploration of the Mississippi River, there is one unique and preposterous character. He is Giacomo Constantino Beltrami, an Italian of comic-opera proportions. Beltrami was in every way a glorious misfit. He was wayward, unpredictable, and humorous. Read more >>

The first men to follow Lewis and Clark across the continent to the Pacific were John Jacob Astor’s fur traders. They discovered the formidable chasm of Idaho’s Snake River—and almost never got out

In the Vinland Map we see the only known cartographic delineation of American lands before the discoveries of Columbus and Cabot. So far as the evidence goes, this unique record remained unnoticed by geographical writers, by projectors and explorers, and by cartographers. We may still ask whether, more positively than all the hints of western land accumulated in the fifteenth-century maps and texts, it served in some way to bridge “the gap between two epochs of Atlantic discovery.” Read more >>

In a strange message to the intriguing General Wilkinson, the soldier-explorer seemed to predict his own geographical befuddlement and his capture by the Spanish.

William Ashley was largely responsible for the development of that most glittering of the West’s romantic figures, the mountain man—the free trapper who explored the western wilderness at imminent peril of his life.

To David Thompson—who died blind, penniless, and bypassed by history—we owe our first knowledge of the American continent’s rugged Northwest

Never again can there be a hunting party as gay or as risky as the one Sir William Stewart devised in 1843