By Gabriel Hemery
160 years after the disappearance of a promising young explorer, the discovery of his missing journals finally reveals the truth behind an extraordinary adventure
Sunday, 14 May 2017
The extraordinary journey of John Jeffrey
John Jeffrey, the main character in my latest book Green Gold, walked, paddled and rode at least 10,000 miles across North America while hunting for plants from 1850-4. During the two years I spent researching and writing the book I plotted his travels in detail and can now publish the route in full for the first time.
After sailing 2,600 nautical miles from London, via Stromness in the Orkney Isles, to York Factory on the eastern seaboard of North America, the young explorer travelled crossed the continent covering at least 2,500 miles to reach the west coast so that he could begin his work. But that was only the beginning. For his work as a botanist for the Oregon Botanical Association — made up of wealthy Subscribers and managed by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh — he explored Washington and Oregon Territories, California, and eventually Arizona and New Mexico. Even 'as the crow flies' he travelled at least 6,300 miles but accounting for explorations and the realities of travelling in the country this is likely to have been at least 10,000 miles.
I hope you enjoy this short film I made using Google Earth which follows his main route between 1850 and 1854, from London to Fort Yuma, where he ultimately disappeared.