Robert Louis Stevenson’s Train Adventure


Author Robert Louis Stevenson fell in love with Fanny Osbourne, a married California woman nine years older than he. In 1879, Fanny sent the Scottish writer a telegram saying she missed him. Despite serious illness, Stevenson crossed the Atlantic and rode trains across America to find his love.

In “The Amateur Emigrant,” a book he wrote of the experience, Stevenson described his impression of the Sierra: “I had a glimpse of a huge pine-forested ravine upon my left, a foaming river, and a sky coloured with the fires of dawn. I am usually very calm over displays of nature, but you will scarce believe how my heart leaped at this. Down by Blue Cañon, Alta, Dutch Flat…this was ‘the good country.’ ”


Photograph and caption are from Tahoe historian Mark McLaughlin’s award-winning book “Western Train Adventures: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly,” available in stores or at


Courtesy Silverado Museum

Mark McLaughlin
Tahoe historian Mark McLaughlin is an award-winning, nationally published author and professional speaker with seven books and more than 800 articles in print. A prolific writer, Mark has received the Nevada State Press award five times. He is a popular lecturer and experienced field trip leader who has lived at North Lake Tahoe since 1978. He teaches Sierra Nevada history using entertaining stories, slide shows and informative tours. He has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio and has appeared as an expert consultant on CNN, The History Channel and The Weather Channel, as well as many historical documentaries.