Family: A Gold Mine for Young Readers

Little may remain of the gold that drew thousands of dreamers and schemers to the American Wild West, but there's a mother lode of adventure to be mined out there. Many of the old towns are alive and well, still surrounded by soaring forests and roaring rivers--and mapped for all posterity by the likes of John Muir, Mark Twain and other great 19th century writers.

Muir, in fact, wrote the book on environmentalism--and more than one. Our National Parks, The Yosemite and The Mountains of California helped shape the nation's attitudes on conservation. Some would argue that were it not...

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