Book Details

The Adventures of Gunnar Mann

By 1840, travel on the Santa Fe Trail was well underway. One of the major gathering places for the nearly 800 mile trek was Independence, Missouri. Here, many merchants and traders formed wagon trains for safety in numbers to ship their trade goods to Santa Fe and beyond. The lure of adventure and opportunity saw many young men leave their families to sign on with a caravan. Gunnar Mann was one such youth. He left tranquil Springfield, Illinois, to join one of these wagon trains that would travel the perilous trail. Once on the trail Gunnar would experience days of boredom but there were times when he found himself immersed in the violence and cruelty that was the southwest. It didn’t take long for Gunnar to grow physically and mentally tough for his youthful nineteen years. He had to. Sometimes it is kill or be killed. Staying alive was his biggest concern but he had another that plagued him all the while he was absent from Springfield. Gunnar left his girlfriend, eighteen year-old Sue Ellen Whitney, to satisfy his passion for adventure . . . . . but only after her assurance she would await his return. Exchanges of letters saw them not received in a timely manner or not at all. They could only guess what the other was up to. Would she be there for him when he returned? He would have to make it back to Springfield to find out.


About the Author

Richard Hollenback

Richard Hollenback authored Gunnar’s Odyssey, the first in a series about a young man in search of adventure in 1840. He signed on with a wagon train headed for the nearly 800 mile trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Having worked in his father’s freighting business and his own personal adventures, Gunnar was well prepared. There were many miles of boredom crossing the seemingly endless prairie, but he had his share of challenges as well. Marauding Indians protecting their homelands were always a threat. Difficult river crossings, lack of water, wagon breakdowns and adverse weather presented even more demanding conditions. The author raised Quarter Horses for 30 years for competition, hunting and racing taking him to Texas and New Mexico. It was during these travels he developed a passion for the captivating history of the southwest. His research time was interspersed with horseback hunting forays into the Colorado Rockies and into British Columbia, Canada, (including a 30-day hunt for a cattle killing grizzly!). The author’s father, a mining engineer, wrote several books on Colorado history. He took young Richard on numerous trips throughout Colorado to gather material for his books. The author’s wife, after he read many books and made numerous visits to historical sites, suggested to him, “you’ve acquired a great deal of knowledge of the early southwest, you have a vivid imagination and you like to write. Why not a book?” She was right on all counts but sadly, she did not live to see the work completed.