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Dennis M. Larsen

A retired Yelm High School history teacher, Dennis M. Larsen still enjoys educating others about the region’s fascinating past. Years ago, he became captivated by the extraordinary life of one historical figure in particular—Hop King Ezra Meeker, who faced tremendous adversity and heartbreak, but always rose above it.
Larsen wanted to know more. The Washington State Historical Society preserves an astounding collection—close to 50,000 letters written by the Puyallup businessman, and he started transcribing that mountain of correspondence. His first challenge was learning to read the adventurer’s scrawl, “which at times would do a doctor proud,” he says. Now considered a foremost expert on the Oregon Trail pioneer, he even keeps a room dedicated to Meeker-related paraphernalia in his home

Larsen has written articles for the Oregon-California Trails Association’s “Overland Journal,” Lewis County Historical Society and Steilacoom Historical Society publications, and local newspapers. His other books include “The Missing Chapters: The Untold Story of Ezra Meeker’s Old Oregon Trail Monument Expedition” (Ezra Meeker Historical Society), “Slick as a Mitten: Ezra Meeker’s Klondike Enterprise,” “Saving the Oregon Trail: Ezra Meeker’s Last Grand Quest,” and “A Yankee on Puget Sound: Pioneer Dispatches of Edward Jay Allen, 1852–1855,” (all Washington State University Press).

Dennis M. Larsen graduated from Washington State University and currently lives in Olympia.

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