The Bohemian Heiress Who Shattered 19th-Century Taboos

Outside Magazine

Great journeys often start with a mystery. For Aimée Crocker, the late-19th-century railroad heiress and pioneering adventure traveler, the mystery arose when she was just a small child.

According to Crocker’s 1936 memoir, And I’d Do It Again, one evening in the late 1860s or early 1870s, she bounded up the stairs of her California home ahead of her nanny to discover a surprise. In her room, bathed in silvery moonlight, a ghostly woman lay on her bed, dressed in magnificent silk robes and a gossamer veil unlike any attire the young girl had seen. (She later learned it was the dress of a Hindu noble.) The woman looked at Crocker and smiled…