A. Pendarves Vivian arrived in St. John's, Newfoundland on August 14, 1877 and proceeded to Halifax where he received a wire from his brother-in-law, Lord Dunraven (of Estes Park), suggesting they meet in Spring Hill, Nova Scotia to hunt for bears. Meeting as planned, they found no bears so they traveled north on the Intercolonial Railroad to New Brunswick where they hunted moose on the Miramichi River. No moose were bagged, but Vivian shot a caribou as they drifted down the Miramichi.
At the mouth of the river, Dunraven left for England, and Vivian headed west: Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Niagara, Detroit, Chicago, and Omaha where he boarded the nearly-new Union Pacific for Cheyenne. Denver, he described as a city of 16,000 population, "cheerful and gay and full of tempting shops," adding that, "Its frontier character has quite passed away, and it now seems as comfortable as any European town," a "good starting place for hunting expeditions."
Vivian and the party he had gathered around him were described in the Longmont Post: "Members of the English Parliament and other English notables passed through here on their way to Estes Park. Their baggage consisted of 11 guns, 62 pairs of blankets, several dogs ...." Vivian described its exaggeration as "tall writing." Longmont may have been impressed; Vivian was not, describing Longmont as a "wretched little town" from which he was "relieved" to get away.
"The charms of Estes Park are so well-known and appreciated by the inhabitants of Denver and the plains that ... a commodious and well-furnished hotel has now been started by the Estes Park Company [Dunraven's company in which Vivian was an original stockholder] about a mile higher up the park than the present ranch [of Griff Evans]. This hotel was finished and opened the 1st of July this year, and was closed about the middle of September, when the tourist season was over; but I hear it was never empty from the day it opened to the day it closed." Since the hotel was closed, Dunranven's agent, Whyte, had arranged for Vivian to stay in a "hostelry" kept by Griff Evans, a Welshman and one of the Park's earliest residents.
But Vivian had not come for scenery; he came for "sport," i.e. hunting. Midway through his trip he wrote, "I had already obtained some very good heads, and my great object was to get as far as I could a representative of all the mammalia worth killing." Finding little game in Estes Park, he decided to go to North Park - in winter a landscape as lonesome as Outer Mongolia - but first, a trial run up to "Horse Shoe" Park to "practice camping" with "Messrs [William E.] James and Row [Israel Rowe]." Vivian got nothing but a pine marten.
Finding their equipment adequate, Vivian and his friends, guided by Griff Evans, proceeded through Fort Collins, La Porte, Livermore, and across the Laramie Plains to "Old Man Pinkham's" at the north entrance to North Park.
It was the third week of October when he and his party began serious hunting, and it is now that we observe the steely devotion to "sport" of the English aristocrat - day after day floundering through the snow, spending nights in the open when lost from camp, sometimes barely finding enough game for food, falling through the ice into chilling streams, occasionally resorting to the flask of brandy reserved " for medicinal purposes in case of accidents or illness." Vivian himself writes, "For nearly two months from this time I did scarcely anything but hunt," adding that "those, therefore, of my readers who do not care for this amusement would do well [to skip] until Rawling's Spring on the Union Pacific Railroad is reached."
Vivian was not a man of shallow intellect, for he writes in considerable detail of ranching, of "tie hacks," of attitudes toward the Indians, of geology by reference to "Surveys of the United States Government," of mining, even - though hoping to kill one himself - of saving the buffalo whose vast numbers had been decimated by hunters for food for the railroad workers and later for the market for hides.
In late December, as he headed west from Rawlins, he totaled his collection: one Moose, one "Cariboo," four Buffalo, none Wapiti (seven Stags, two Hinds), three Deer, ten Antelope, one Puma, and one Bear. All the collection was packed, salted as necessary, and shipped east by express.
Vivian continued to San Francisco, visited Yosemite and the mines of the Sierra Nevada, then hurried east to New York from which he sailed on a White Star liner on January 26, arriving barely in time for the opening of Parliament of which he was a member - and to begin work on a book of his adventures, "Wanderings in the Western Land," which was published in 1879.
D. Ferrel Atkins, Retired Ranger-Naturalist
Last updated: March 31, 2012