Discovering the Region: Commentary

14. Rudyard Kipling, From Sea to Sea

Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) visited the Pacific Northwest at roughly the same time John Muir did, and with somewhat the same result—to have a close encounter with the region’s natural world. Muir climbed mountains; Kipling fished rivers and streams for salmon and other species. Although Kipling’s pursuit entailed much less labor, his level of satisfaction was just as euphoric as Muir’s: “I have lived!” he exclaimed. The passage included here also contains famous descriptions of what would become the major cities on Puget Sound. “Tacoma was literally staggering under a boom of the boomiest,” Kipling noted, while Seattle “was burned out a few weeks ago when the insurance men at San Francisco took their losses with a grin.”

Also like Muir, Kipling was relatively young when he visited the Northwest, and his reputation as an English author was not yet established. He had already traveled widely around the globe, but he had not really begun to publish the stories and verse that would make him famous and in 1907 earn the Nobel Prize for Literature.

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