Home » Saltbound: A Block Island Winter by Chilton Williamson
Saltbound: A Block Island Winter Chilton Williamson

Saltbound: A Block Island Winter

Chilton Williamson

Published December 31st 1980
ISBN : 9780416005011
Unknown Binding
263 pages
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 About the Book 

Chilton Williamson, Jr. was born in New York City and raised there and on the family farm near South Windham, Vermont where he acquired a lifelong love of nature and of the outdoors, horses, fishing, and hunting.At Columbia College, he majored in European History and studied voice privately for some years, training to become an operatic tenor. Having given up a musical career, Williamson did four years of graduate work in American history at Columbia before becoming History Editor for St. Martins Press in New York. During his three years with St. Martins, he contributed numerous essays and book reviews to many publications, including Harpers, The New Republic, National Review, Commonweal, and The Nation.In 1976 Williamson became Literary Editor (later Senior Editor) for National Review. The following year he moved to Block Island, Rhode Island, where he spent an isolated winter, gathering material for his first book (Saltbound: A Block Island Winter: Methuen, 1980) and commuting every other week to the magazine offices in New York. In Saltbound, Williamson interwines the history of the island from colonial days down to the present with a narrative account of his own experiences and adventures to depict an isolated traditional community transformed over three centuries by the forces of modernization and progress.Williamson moved to Kemmerer, Wyoming in the summer of 1979 to begin work on what he originally planned as the Western equivalent of Saltbound. Still on the payroll of National Review, commuting bi-monthly to his office in New York for four days at a time, he went to work with a crew on a drilling rig in the famous Overthrust Belt, in those days the symbol of the Energy Boom, the Sagebrush Rebellion, and the New West. From his lodgings in the Regency Apartments in Kemmerer, Williamson edited his reviews section, wrote his columns, worked long hours as a rigger and afterward at his desk making notes of all he had seen and heard that day, and completed his education as an outdoorsman begun years before in Vermont. By paying close attention to experienced people who had something to teach him, he learned to shoot a rifle fast and with accuracy, to navigate and survive in the backcountry, to break his own horses and train them to the mountain trails, load a packhorse, and butcher and pack big game. The literary result of his first year in the Rocky Mountain West is Roughnecking It: Or, Life in the Overthrust (Simon & Schuster, 1982): a thoroughly reprehensible work that has been described as a kickass book. Inspired by Mark Twains classic, Roughing It, the books theme is how the New West was foreshadowed by the Old, and how the Old West lingers on in the New. Roughnecking It was excellently reviewed, and is said to have found its way into the syllabus of a University of Wyoming course devoted to the study of social problems in Wyoming. Best of all, from the authors point of view, it won acceptance in the West as a kind of Oilriggers Bible. Though presently out of print, it is still in demand by oilpatch veterans twenty-four years after its publication.Williamson made his permanent residence in Kemmerer after arranging with National Review to become a long-distance editor and contributor, working from his home. In 1989 he left NR for a similar position at Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, published by the Rockford Institute in Rockford, Illinois. Early in 1994, Williamson inaugurated a regular Chronicles column, The Hundredth Meridian, that continues today. Here he has recorded, for more than a decade now, espisodes from his life and adventures as a Westerner-hunting, fishing, horsepacking, backpacking, pushing cattle, breaking horses-and his travels throughout the West, in particular the southwest and northern Mexico and including the great Indian reservations where he has many friends and acquaintances. (The first twenty-two columns, deliberately planned as a serial book, have recentl