The route was used extensively in the 1850s, especially by the Mormon companies..  Maps put out by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) show the network of rivers followed to get to California. Although magnifying lenses had been discovered in 1592 effective microscopes that could see germs well were just being developed and widely used starting in the 1860s. Our hotels, restaurants and location are within the beautiful Bear Lake Valley and offer the tourist traveler a unique vacation stopover. Initially, steamboat navigable waters on the Missouri River ended just upstream of Independence, Missouri/Kansas City, Kansas. As the 1850s progressed and armed hostilities escalated in "bleeding" Kansas, travelers increasingly traveled up the Missouri River to leave from or near Omaha. The telegraph lines that diverged from the railroad lines or significant population centers were largely abandoned. Before the railroads came in, horse, mule or oxen pulled freight wagons from either California or the midwest were the only way new supplies from the east, midwest and Europe could get to several states. Steel shoes for oxen, mules or horses and some spare parts for the wagons were carried by most. see NPS National Trail Map. By the spring of 1849 tens of thousands of gold seekers headed westward for California. Miscellaneous deaths included deaths by: homicides, lightning strikes, childbirths, snake bites, flash floods, falling trees, and wagon wrecks. The first decision to make was what route to take to California, the California Trail or the various sea routes. The Placerville route would be the first route that could be kept at least partially open even in winter. IX, 209, 231, 238-9, 246-51, 266-7, 268-71, The Chautauqua Press, Chautauqua, New York, 1931. Death and Danger Along the Trails Dangers Along the Trail The Oregon Trail is this nation’s longest graveyard. Families often planned for a trip months in advance and made many of the extra clothing and other items needed. He felt that the best way to go about this was to encourage emigration by Americans to California, and in this way the history of Texas would be repeated. "From Trails to Freeways."  Today's Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway is a very scenic drive but one of the least traveled highways across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Later, after 1869, it was mostly used by ranchers moving their stock to and from summer grazing or markets. Mormon emigration records after 1860 are reasonably well known, as newspaper and other accounts in Salt Lake City give most of the names of emigrants that arrived each year from 1847 to 1868. Big Tree Road & Ebbetts Pass Road (est. The Sierra Nevada comprise a large block of weather-worn granite tilted towards the west. The ongoing massive needs for millions of board feet of Sierra timber and thousands of cords of firewood in the Comstock Lode mines and towns would be the single major exception, although they even built narrow gauge railroads to haul much of this. A review by a founder of the Oregon-California Trails Association, historian and author William E. Hill: If 'n you're hanker in' for a historical novel that is full of adventure and that takes a hard look at the "elephant," ie., the dangers and hazards, that so tried the emigrants going west, look no further, it is Fred Dickey's Days of Hope, Miles of Misery. The trails, when not in flat country, typically went down ridge tops to avoid the trees and gullies normally found in valleys. Oregon-California Trail. From here the settlers entered a difficult portion called Rock Avenue which moved from spring to spring across mostly alkaline soil and steep hills until it reached the Sweetwater River. His letters were read, reread, passed around, and printed in newspapers throughout the country, and started the first significant immigration to California. 1836) on the Snake River in present-day Idaho. By 1853, other faster, easier, and shorter routes had been worked out, and traffic on the Applegate-Lassen cutoff declined to a trickle. Letting it sit in a bucket for an hour or so allowed most of the silt to settle out. Sometimes an unfolded feather bed mattress was brought for cushioning the ride in the wagon if there were pregnant women or young children along. Diseases and serious illnesses caused the deaths of nine out of ten pioneers. Exactly why the road was to terminate at Honey Lake near Susanville is a legislative mystery, since very few went that way in 1857 or later. At the end of the Humboldt River, where it disappeared into the alkaline Humboldt Sink, travelers had to cross the deadly Forty Mile Desert before finding either the Truckee River or Carson River in the Carson Range and Sierra Nevada mountains that were the last major obstacles before entering Northern California.. They made numerous topographical measurements of longitude, latitude and elevation as well as cartographic sketches of the observable surroundings.  They followed the Bear River to present-day Soda Springs, Idaho. The Sublette cutoff saved about 50 miles (80 km) but the typical price was numerous dead oxen and the wrecks of many wagons. Those with capital could often buy livestock in the Midwest and drive the stock to California or Oregon and usually make good money doing it. It approximates the present California State Route 4 route over 8,730 feet (2,660 m) Ebbetts Pass. A thin fold-up mattress, blankets, buffalo robes, pillows, canvas or rubber gutta percha ground covers were used for sleeping (usually on the ground) at night. The steep descent from Johnson's Pass brought the trail down to Slippery Ford on the South Fork American River. About 25 pounds (11 kg) of soap was recommended for a party of four for washing, bathing and washing clothes. Nearby, trees scarred by ropes, chains and pulleys used to haul the heavy wagons up the precipitous slope, can be seen. At that time, the trail forward was blocked by the Carson Spur, a sharp ridge not passable by wagons. The estimates are made even harder by the common practice then of burying people in unmarked graves that were intentionally disguised to avoid them being dug up by animals or Indians. They and their surviving wagons and teams were in poor shape. Hundreds of wagons followed before, during, and after the gold rush. A usable but very rough wagon route had finally been worked out along the Humboldt River and the rugged, hot and dry Forty Mile Desert across Nevada and over the rugged and steep Sierra Nevada by California-bound settlers.  In about 1848 or 1849 a large group of pioneers cut a switchback trail over the final steep section of Roller Pass, eliminating the need for rollers and chains to get over Roller Pass. Food for the trip had to be compact, lightweight, and nonperishable. The trail followed the north banks of the Humboldt west for about 65 miles (105 km) until it encountered the narrow 5 miles (8.0 km) long Carlin Canyon on the Humboldt.  In about 1853, the road through the canyon was converted intermittently to a toll road and made much easier to use when even more large boulders were removed and two permanent bridges were constructed. The first "decent" map of California and Oregon were drawn by Captain John C. FrÃ©mont of the U.S. Army's Corps of Topographical Engineers, and his topographers and cartographers in about 1848. Some alcohol was typically taken for "medicinal" purposesâand used up along the way. In 1842 (a year without any known California Trail emigration), Joseph Chiles, a member of the BartlesonâBidwell Party of 1841, returned with several others back east. In general, as little road work as possible was done. were needed if they had a horse or riding mule, and many men did. Howard, Thomas Frederick; "Sierra Cossings: First Roads to California"; University of California Press; 2000; p 84; Adams, Kenneth C., ed. Cooking equipment was typically light and included only simple cooking utensils such as butcher knives, forks, metal plates and cups, spoons, large spoons, spatulas, ladles, Dutch ovens, pots and pans, grills, spits, coffee pots, pot hooks and an iron tripod to suspend the pans and pots over the fire. Some damaged wagons were salvaged by cutting the wagon in half and converting the front or rear half of the wagon into a two-wheeled cart. The only power available was human, ox or mule pulled plows, wagons and mule powered dump carts. Lyman, George D. John Marsh, Pioneer: The Life Story of a Trail-Blazer on Six Frontiers, pp. If the cargo weighed too much, and it often did initially, these boxes were typically discarded and nearly everything put into bags. In the Thomas Fork area, the trail is forced to go up "Big Hill" to by-pass a narrow canyon filled by the Bear River (Today's U.S. Route 30 blasted and bulldozed a wider canyon to follow the river). In 1852 Auburn was reachable by wagons from Sacramento. Many travelers went via Salt Lake City, Utah and the Salt Lake Cutoff to get repairs, fresh or additional supplies, fresh vegetables and fresh livestock. Today's Interstate 80 goes over much of the same route and is the main transportation artery over the Sierra in northern California. Possible Indian troubles was about the only condition that kept large trains together for mutual protection. About half of the party elected to attempt to continue by wagon to California and half elected to go to Oregon on the more established Oregon Trail. The Luther Pass Trail (1854) was established to connect the Carson River Canyon road with the Johnson Cutoff (Placerville Road or Lake Tahoe Road). See: U.S. Nearly all improvements were financed by tolls on the various roads, bridges and ferries. The river was now often in a deep canyon, and the road had to veer away from it. However, many would linger in misery for weeks in the bouncy wagons. This new toll road was developed so the new railroad could earn money even as it was being built as well as supplying their own hefty transportation needs. Initially, the trails across the Sierra were improved only enough to make them barely passable. It is now followed roughly by U.S. Highway 50.. Luther Pass (present CA SR 89) joined the older emigrant route northeast of Carson Pass through Carson River Canyon rather than following the trails along Lake Tahoe.  To get across the Carson Range of mountains the trail then followed the Carson River, traveling about six miles (10 km) in a very rough stretch of the Carson River canyon. There was no effective treatment for many of these diseases then (the germ theory of disease was just gaining acceptance) and little that any doctor of this era could do for those that got them except let them recover on their own or die. California Trail Ruts Early emigrants once called the California Trail an elephant, due to the difficult journey. This barren and rocky section lasted almost 12 miles (19 km), and was considered a major obstacle in the trail. Chiles and Walker split the company into two groups. To minimize friction on the chain it ran over round logs (rollers) put at the top. After 1860, extensions went southward to Carson City, Nevada, and on to the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada. The cold North Platte was easier to ford here for those who were unwilling or unable to pay to cross at one of the ferries downstream.  Nearly all were impressed by the City of Rocksânow a national reserve and Idaho State Park. Independence Rock was named by Jedediah Smith and party when they first observed it in 1824 on July 4--Independence Day in the United States. In hot weather bacon and ham was often hauled in large barrels packed in bran so the hot sun would not melt the fat. Due to lack of use after 1869, most of the wagon roads across the Sierra were allowed to deteriorate until, by the early 20th century, many were again next to impassable to wagons. By 1910, only the Placerville route (now a state highway) was maintained well enough for car and truck traffic to get over the Sierra. There were many hardships and challenges along the way on the Orgon Trail. This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC. From Parowan onward to the southwest, the original route closely followed the route of the Old Spanish Trail diverting from that route between the Virgin River at Halfway Wash to Resting Springs, following the cutoff discovered by John Fremont on his return from California in 1844. The iron wheels on the wagons were not very forgiving. It took about three months to make the transfer of stages and stock, and to build a number of new stations, secure hay and grain, and get everything in readiness for operating a six-times-a-week mail line. Life and Death on the Oregon Trail: Provisions for Births and Lethal Circumstances. They were able to finish their rugged trip over the Sierra and into the future state of California by killing and eating many of their oxen for food. Fourth Grade Life on the Trails No. , The immigrant trail continues west along the Sweetwater River eventually crossing the meandering river nine times, including three times within a 2 miles (3.2 km) section through a narrow canyon in the Rattlesnake Hills. Crossing rivers were probably the most dangerous thing pioneers did. 1846â48) left the California Trail near the modern-day Rye Patch Reservoir in what is now called Lassen's Meadows on the Humboldt River in Nevada. The first recorded party to use part of the California Trail to get to California was the BartlesonâBidwell Party in 1841. Meat filled barrels (200 pounds (91 kg)) were often bought and then, to reduce weight, the bacon and ham were usually transferred to bran filled sacks and stuck in the bottom of the wagons to stay as cool as possibleâthe barrel being discarded. Visit us to learn about the trails, the people and the hardships they endured in the 1800's. The trail through the desert was soon cluttered with discarded supplies, thousands of dead and dying animals, abandoned wagons, and hundreds of emigrant graves. The 1850 migration was in a dry year and with roughly double the number of travelers on the trail it suffered seriously from lack of grass and good water. How many of these maps were actually in the hands of early immigrants is unknown. 2) Indian attacksâIndian attacks increased significantly after 1860 when most of the army troops were withdrawn and miners and ranchers began fanning out all over the country often encroaching on Indian territory. To be more useful the Truckee Trail needed extensive and expensive work spent on it. See U.S. River maps-USGS for map of rivers followed across the United States.. This combination wagon-stagecoach-pony express-telegraph line route is labeled the Pony Express National Historic Trail on the National Trail Map. In all the trail(s) traveled about 450 miles (720 km) in the present state of Nebraska in the Platte River Valley. The gold and silver found more than paid for the wages, development, lumbering and shipping costs. Create a clean and professional home studio setup; Sept. 10, 2020 Many emigrants from the eastern seaboard traveled from the east coast across the Allegheny Mountains to Brownsville, Pennsylvania (a barge building and outfitting center) or Pittsburgh and thence down the Ohio River on flatboats or steamboats to St. Louis, Missouri. Before crossing the Forty Mile Desert, the California main trail splits with one branch going towards the Truckee River Route (or Truckee Trail) (est. Wooden or canvas buckets were brought for carrying water, and most travelers carried canteens or water bags for daily use. 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