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Robert Louis Stevenson’s Train Adventure


Author Robert Louis Stevenson fell in love with Fanny Osbourne, a married California woman nine years older than he. In 1879, Fanny sent the Scottish writer a telegram saying she missed him. Despite serious illness, Stevenson crossed the Atlantic and rode trains across America to find his love.

In “The Amateur Emigrant,” a book he wrote of the experience, Stevenson described his impression of the Sierra: “I had a glimpse of a huge pine-forested ravine upon my left, a foaming river, and a sky coloured with the fires of dawn. I am usually very calm over displays of nature, but you will scarce believe how my heart leaped at this. Down by Blue Cañon, Alta, Dutch Flat…this was ‘the good country.’ ”


Photograph and caption are from Tahoe historian Mark McLaughlin’s award-winning book “Western Train Adventures: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly,” available in stores or at thestormking.com.


Courtesy Silverado Museum

Mark McLaughlin