Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2002


Published in Great Plains Research 12:2 (Fall 2002). Copyright © 2002 Center for Great Plains Studies.


Drawing on the term "cast iron forest" used by Washington Irving in the 1830s to describe a central Oklahoma component of the larger Cross Timbers region, Richard Francaviglia fashions a thoughtful, thorough, and updated account of this bio-region. Nurtured by American expansion westward, the Cross Timbers was a formidable barrier to transportation and of immediate interest to anyone traveling east-west through the region. From early Euro-American encounters to recent times many of the explorers, surveyors, adventurers, and scientists who encountered and observed the Cross Timbers recorded their experiences. Francaviglia does a superb job bundling the diverse types of accounts into a well-organized compendium of the region that is always mindful of the interface between society and environment and of the impacts of human activity on the Cross Timbers. The author discusses the region's natural and cultural history at a level readily accessible to a general audience, while at the same time providing sufficient depth to be of value to the researcher and scientist or as an introductory field guide to the region.