Forlorn River (Nevada I) (1927)

10 Jun

Forlorn River - complete dust jacket

Ladies Home Journal March – April 1926
Harper & Brothers, New York 1927
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Sep 1951
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Mar 1953 (Galactic Central)

Klamath River; Credit: Wandering Lizard

Klamath River; Credit: Wandering Lizard

Forlorn River takes place before the Department of Reclamation starts emptying the Lamath Valley of fresh-water and after the Modoc wars. Its setting is around 1890, (ZGWS) so 17 years after the Modoc war/Lava Beds war/Modoc campaign ended in 1873. That war was fought because of a lack of understanding from the US military about the differences between the tribes and their views on the settlers. Secondly, one might even venture to say that once again it was about ownership of the land. One of the results was the creation of the Klamath Reservation. Hard feelings had taken over and the settlers were now harassed by Modoc who were unwilling to settle in the reservation. No wonder as the Klamath people were their traditional enemies and how do you make friends with your enemies.

Forlorn River - The Lost River Ranch

That brought about the Lost River war, a fight for the right to a Modoc reservation on Modoc land. The ironic and sad thing is that the US government would have saved a whole lot of money and lives if they had just bought the land needed from the settlers.

At the time of Forlorn River I imagine hatred between the settlers and the Modoc might possibly have barely started to lessen. Whether the war between the Modoc and the US military is the reason Zane Grey includes a Native American in his story that is called Modoc is difficult to say but it is a definite possibility considering his previous stories. He had definite views on what happened when settlers took over the land.

Ben Ide was the kind of person adventure and trouble sought. First he has to leave home because of his carelessness with money and obsession with wild horses. After he leaves he rescues and befriends a man with a mysterious background, Nevada. Then he falls for the daughter (Ina Blaine) of one of the ranchers. Of course, other men want her as well. In addition, the land he has bought is also sought by other men and they will shy from nothing in order to get the land. As if that was not enough, Ben and Nevada run into Nevada’s old friend, Bill Hall. Bill has managed to follow a criminal career and one of Ben’s acquaintances seems to be involved in the gang’s decision-making.

Copper Wild Mustang by Kimerlee Curyl

Copper Wild Mustang by Kimerlee Curyl

In the films, both Ben and Nevada are in love with Ina, but in the novel Nevada falls in love with Ben’s younger sister (who is very definitely not Ina). Ina has come home from school with newfangled ideas about her own independence. She gets into trouble with her family for that for they had foreseen an old but wealthy husband for her. Both Ben and Ina have different plans, but in order to realize these plans Ben is going to have to capture the wild horse California Red. He brings Nevada and Modoc along on the hunt and in the meantime, well in the meantime Ina gets into trouble

“Ina saw in his face that he was telling the truth, if not the whole truth. This then had been the secret of his veiled power; and he had unmasked himself before her because he believed she dared not betray him.”


Forlorn River on Open Library







  • 1931: Il fiume abbandonato (Italian)
  • 1964: Jakten på kvegtyvene (Norwegian)
  • 1978: Kadotettu joki (Finnish)
  • 1973: Der verlorene Fluß (German)


Battle of Lost River

Lost River, California

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Posted by on 2014-06-10 in Books


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