Wallace Letters Online

Share this:

Record number: WCP459

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
William Mitten
21 May 1887

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Continental Hotel, Salt Lake City, USA to William Mitten, [Hurstpierpoint, Sussex] on 21 May 1887.

Record created:
01 June 2002 by Lucas, Paula J.


Urges Mitten to join him in June or July at Manitou Springs in the Rocky Mountains, has met a lady botanist who says plants magnificent; detailed instructions on route from Quebec or Montreal, advice on luggage, clothing, plant boxes and sphagnum, travel by steamer and train, sleeping car accommodation and cost versus hotels; plants seen growing wild in Salina, Kansas included Tradescantia virginica, Yucca angustifola, Penstemon cobaea and fields covered with a blue flower probably Camassia; will write to wife Annie from San Francisco.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

View item:

LETTER (WCP459.459)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Natural History Museum
Finding number:
NHM WP1/5/43
Copyright owner:
ŠA. R. Wallace Literary Estate

Item notes

Physical description

Transcription information




Continental Hotel

J.H. Van Horn, Salt Lake City

May 21st. 1887

My dear Mitten,

Since writing to you a week ago I am more than ever desirous that you should come to the Rockies as I have seen a lady botanist at Denver who has told me of two fine stations 10 or 11 thousand feet high for getting the Alpine flora which she says is most abundant & beautiful. I did not ask about mosses but I presume there must be some though the climate is dry. In case you shd. make up your mind to the journey I give you a few more hints. You need not bring more clothes than you would for a two months excursion in the Alps. Come to Quebec if you can. There are several lines of excellent steamers, & I think they take you on by a river boat to Montreal. If however the steamers to New York shd. mail letters as to time it does not much matter. You will get from either place a return ticket to Denver [[2]] which will last I think 6 months (a "round trip" they call it) allowing you to stop any where on the way back; see that this is so. If you come to New York see if you can get a round trip ticket allowing you to return to Montreal. I think you can. This is because I want to go that way home. If that will not be given ask to come back by way of Albany which they will certainly give and that is near the Adirondack Mtns. where we will spend a few days & where there are sure to be lots of mosses. The Adirondacks are between Albany & Montreal. The sleeping cars are very dear -- $2 a night or sometimes $3. A hotel is much cheaper but then if you stay at hotels every night your journey is twice as long and so costs more in the end, besides loss of time. If I get a letter from you at California saying you are coming I will write you at P. Office Denver, saying when you are to come to meet me, probably at Maniton[?] Springs, which will be on my way back and is the most picturesque interesting spot in the mountains. Should you by any chance not get my letter letter, take train to Maniton[?] Springs from Denver and go to Cliff House Hotel where [[3]] I shall be, or a letter from me. Your train reaches Denver early (7:15 am.) so you will have plenty of time to reach Maniton[?] the same day. Take a round ticket allowing you to stay a month, as we must return to Denver. If you can bring all you want in one bag or portable portmanteau that you can carry with you in the train do so, but if not then have a small bag to carry conveniences or books 7c. on the train, sending your bag portmanteau (called her valise) through to Denver. Provide a very think coat for travelling as heat is great, and the thickest you have for the mountains. I have a difficulty in getting biscuit tins for sending home plants. I think they make plant boxes of mere folded tin very cheap in sets[?] fitting into each other. If so you might bring some the largest about 8 in x 4 in x 2 in. as 12 oz. is the maximum weight allowed the sample by a post. A small bag of dried sphagmum[?] would also be useful for packing as it cannot be got when wanted. You might [[4]] possibly arrange with some of the great nurserymen to send them Rocky Mt. plants, or seeds, in which case you might pay part of the expenses. There are hosts of fine things not yet in cultivation in England. At Salina[?] in Kansas where I stayed a week I saw a small hill covered with dwarf plants of Tradescantia virginniea[?] in full flower from pink & pure blue usually only 6 in. from the ground, a lovely sight! In the same were numbers of Yucca augustafolia[?] coming into flower, also, plenty of Peutsterum cobrea![?] grand plants with flower spike 18 in. long & flowers of a delicate lilac, striped, as large as our foxglove! The therm. goes 40° below zero where it grows yet it is delicate with us!! If you cannot come so soon as I said in my last it will do if you leave by the middle of June reaching Denver about 1st or 2nd July -- which is the very best month for the mountains. One of the prettiest flower sights I saw yesterday in some wet meadows on the way here. great patches about sheets of pure blue posies[?], I think, by Canassia.[?] In some fields there were acres of it! Tell Annie I have arrived so far safely. I shall write to her from San Francisco. Love to all

Yours very sincerely | Alfred R. Wallace. [signature]

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.