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Carrie Adell Strahorn

Mother of the West

Carrie Adell Strahorn
Photo: Courtesy Idaho State Historical Society

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So often had she listened to the tales of her elders, Carrie Adell Green vowed as a young girl that she would “never be a pioneer.” Yet, for thirty-three years, she traveled thousands of miles by stagecoach, saddle, and railroad car into remote regions of the West. With her husband, Robert A. Strahorn, a publicist for the Union Pacific Railroad, she helped establish several towns, including Caldwell, Weiser, Payette, Shoshone, and Hailey, Idaho. She was the first white woman to make a complete tour of Yellowstone Park and to describe its magnificent scenery. In 1911, she published the popular Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage, a witty and observant memoir illustrated by famed Western artist Charles M. Russell.

Born in Merengo, Illinois, on New Year’s Day of 1854 to a family of “old settlers” in the Midwest, Adell Green enjoyed a comfortable life. Her father, a surgeon who had served in the Civil War under Ulysses S. Grant, encouraged his three daughters to get as much education as they wished. Adell received a degree from the University of Michigan and studied voice in both the United States and Europe.

When she announced her intention to marry Robert Strahorn, family and friends voiced concern. Strahorn, a “tramp reporter” who had left school at the age of ten, was fresh from covering the Sioux wars. He had recently come to the attention of the Union Pacific Railroad for a book he had written on the resources of the Wyoming and Dakota Territory. President Jay Gould had asked Strahorn to head up a literary bureau for the railroad that would gather information and prepare guidebooks for prospective settlers along the UP tracks. It was a job that would require endless travel in unexplored places.

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