[136] The trail passed through Rabbithole Springs, crossed the Black Rock Desert and High Rock Canyon before finally (after nearly 100 miles (160 km) of desert travel) arriving at Surprise Valley and climbing steeply to go over 6,300 feet (1,900 m) Fandango Pass. [70] A few miles further north is present day Montpelier, Idaho (site of an Oregon-California Trail interpretive Center). [37] By 1848 the newspapers of the day often published articles about California. Other common causes of death included: freezing to death (300–500), drowning in river crossings (200–500), getting run over by wagons (200–500), and accidental gun deaths (200–500). At that time, the trail forward was blocked by the Carson Spur, a sharp ridge not passable by wagons. One thing the Transcontinental Railroad did for the west was eliminating the Oregon Trail. A typical wage then was from $1.00 to $2.00/day for laborers, teamsters etc., with higher wages when men were scarce. Some resented the toll charges, but the users of the road paid for the improvements and maintenance on the roads, and taxpayers of this era in general were very hesitant to pick up the very hefty cost of building and maintaining good "free" roads. The trail from Fort Bridger to Salt Lake City and over the Salt Lake Cutoff was about 180 miles (290 km) before it rejoined the California Trail near the City of Rocks in Idaho. The Auburn Emigrant Road (1852) from the Truckee trail to Auburn was established to bring emigrants to the new gold diggings at Auburn, California. 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 canyon was filled with boulders and rocks that had often fallen over a thousand feet into the canyon carved by the river through the Carson Range. The economy class fare across the western United States of about $69 was affordable by most California-bound travelers. When the Union Pacific Railroad started west in 1865, Omaha was their eastern terminus. [30] The Donner party spent over a week's hard work scratching a barely usable path across the Wasatch mountains, getting ever further behind Hastings's Party. They finally abandoned their wagons in eastern Nevada when they realized the route they were on was getting ever rougher and they had missed the head of the Humboldt River. The main trail going to Fort Hall went almost due north from Fort Bridger to the Little Muddy Creek where it passed over the Bear River Divide to the pleasant Bear River Valley. Many took their fishing gear along—at least lines and hooks as a usable pole could usually be cut from a willow or other bush. After the first transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, the telegraph lines along the railroad tracks became the main line, since the required relay stations, lines and telegraph operators were much easier to supply and maintain along the railroad. For many emigrants, Forty Mile Desert was the end of their trail. IX, 209, 231, The Chautauqua Press, Chautauqua, New York, 1931. The California Trail was one of three main ways used as Argonauts went by the California Trail, across the disease ridden Isthmus of Panama and around the storm tossed Cape Horn between South America and Antarctica to get to California. They found that if they started a fire (driftwood was easily available) on boulders or impassably narrow canyon walls the hot rocks became easily breakable when doused with cold water and hit by picks and shovels. The dry desert air sometimes dried the tires so much the iron tire was prone to fall off. Shovels, crow bars, picks, hoes, mattocks, saws, hammers, axes and hatchets were used to clear or make a road through trees or brush, cut down the banks to cross a wash or steep banked stream, build a raft or bridge, or repair the wagon where necessary. The "regular" California Trail from Fort Bridger via Fort Hall on the Snake River and on to the City of Rocks was within a few miles of being the same distance as going to Salt Lake City and on to the City of Rocks via the Salt Lake Cutoff. Jedediah and his fellow trappers rediscovered South Pass and the Sweetwater River in 1824. When the Army established the shorter Central Overland Route in 1859 from Salt Lake City, Utah to Carson City, Nevada, it used local streams and springs found in the desert along the way. They followed the Humboldt River across Nevada and eventually made it into northern California. The 1849 travelers went in a wet year and found good grass almost the entire way and that most had taken too many supplies. "Firewood" usually consisted of broken brush, and the grass was sparse and dried out. The Pony Express used this route in the summer and winter of 1860–61. The usually much cheaper animals in the mid-west could be herded to California etc. From Ely the route is approximated today by the roads to Ibapah, Utah, Callao, Utah, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, Fairfield, Utah to Salt Lake City, Utah (See: Pony Express Map[10] and Pony Express auto route[27]), The Central Overland Route was about 280 miles (450 km) shorter than the 'standard' California Trail Humboldt River route. In their heyday from about 1861–1866, these roads had major improvements made at many thousands of dollars per road and paid the salaries of a small army of employees that worked on building and maintaining different sections of the road and the service centers located roughly every ten miles. 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. Without guides or maps, they traveled down the Bear River as it looped southwest through Cache Valley, Utah. This river junction is deep in a canyon now filled by the Pathfinder Reservoir. This canyon was one of the paths across the Carson Range of mountains. Branching off the Truckee Trail was the Nevada City Road (est 1850) to Nevada City. In busy times the wagons traveled all day, filling the road, and the six or so stages traveled at night. [73][74] The long and very difficult trail they had blazed was used by virtually none of the succeeding emigrants. On the open plains, the wagons typically spread out to minimize traveling in dust. About 25 pounds (11 kg) of soap was recommended for a party of four for washing, bathing and washing clothes. On March 2, 1861, before the American Civil War had actually begun at Fort Sumter, the United States Government formally revoked the contract of the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach Company in anticipation of the coming conflict. Surprisingly few people were taught to swim in this era. The route went south from Salt Lake City across the Jordan River to Fairfield, Utah, then west-southwest past Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, Callao, Utah, Ibapah, Utah, to Ely, Nevada, then across Nevada to Carson City, Nevada. This route, the Central Overland Route, which was about 280 miles (450 km) shorter and more than 10 days quicker, went south of the Great Salt Lake and across the middle of present-day Utah and Nevada through a series of springs and small streams. Farm tools such as a plow, pick, shovel, scythe, rake, hoe; plus carpentry tools—saw, hammer, nails, broad axe, mallet, plane were often carried along. Gratitude in the workplace: How gratitude can improve your well-being and relationships In 1844, Caleb Greenwood and the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party became the first settlers to take wagons over the Sierra Nevada and into California over what became the Truckee Trail. From Smoot, the road then continued north about 20 miles (32 km) down Star Valley west of the Salt River before turning almost due west at Stump Creek near the present town of Auburn, Wyoming and passing into the present state of Idaho and following the Stump Creek valley about ten miles (16 km) northwest over the Caribou Mountains (Idaho) (this section of the trail is now accessible only by US Forest Service path as the main road (Wyoming Highway 34) now goes through Tincup canyon to get across the Caribous.) The Beckwourth Trail (est. Volunteer members of John C. Frémont's California Battalion assisted the Pacific Squadron's sailors and marines in 1846 and 1847 in conquering California in the Mexican–American War. The stream froze in winter and didn't thaw until early summer due to the insulating layer of vegetation. The trail was used by about 2,700 settlers from 1846 up to 1849. Greeley published his detailed observations in his 1860 book "An Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco".[28]. Sept. 11, 2020. They were also harder to find and re-capture if they got lost. This barren and rocky section lasted almost 12 miles (19 km), and was considered a major obstacle in the trail. Travelers rarely made the entire trip without one or more in their traveling group dying. A better route variation was finally blasted out of the face of the cliffs at Carson Spur in 1863 by the Amador and Nevada Wagon Road—a toll road around Carson Spur. TRAIL BASICS - DANGERS Major threats to pioneer life and limb came from accidents, exhaustion, and disease. The future Oregon/California wagon trail had minimal improvements usually limited to partially filling in impassable gullys, etc.. By 1836, when the first Oregon migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been scouted and roughed out to Fort Hall, Idaho. The Seminoe cutoff split from the main trail at the 6th crossing and rejoined it at Burnt Ranch, bypassing both Rocky Ridge and four of the river crossings, which was an advantage in the early spring and summer during high runoff. In 1848 most emigrants developed and used this route. Johnson's route became a serious competitor as the main route over the Sierra. Some believe scurvy deaths from poor nutrition may have rivaled cholera as a killer, with most deaths occurring after they reached California. The descent was soon scattered with fragments of many wagons and dead animals. Such diseases as cholera, small pox, flu, measles, mumps, tuberculosis could spread quickly through an entire wagon camp. Hundreds of late arriving Forty-niners, and some parties of Mormons, both packers and teamsters, looking to avoid the fate of the Donner Party, in the fall and winter of 1849–1850 used the snow free Southern Route to Southern California. The unknown culprits were believed to have been Native Americans. [53] The eastern end of the trail has been compared to a frayed rope of many strands that joined up at the Platte River near new Fort Kearny (est. In addition, their animals were getting in ever poorer condition. Initially, about half of the Argonauts going to California went by sea, and half overland by trail. Letting it sit in a bucket for an hour or so allowed most of the silt to settle out. When it was obvious a person wouldn’t last the day, the train would often hold up moving in order to wait for the end. "From Trails to Freeways"; California Highways and Public Works; 1950; (Centennial Edition); p61. Students will read two Read Kansas cards that are reminiscences by trail travelers. [154] In a few years, as the gold strikes continued, nearly any and all foods were grown or imported into California—for sale if you had the gold. Another hazard was getting pulled under the wagon wheels by loose clothing getting caught in the wheels. The busy times on the trail were from late April to early October with almost no winter traffic (several parts of the trail were impassable in winter). Condiments like: mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg, vinegar, pepper and other spices were usually included. Individuals buying most of the needed items would end up spending between $150 and $300 per person. Many dead animals were concentrated at and in these "bad" water springs—often preventing access to them. Wooden or canvas buckets were brought for carrying water, and most travelers carried canteens or water bags for daily use. Families often planned for a trip months in advance and made many of the extra clothing and other items needed. Most emigrants got there in late August through early October—one of the hottest, driest times of the year. The road was built in response to pressure from California Congressmen who wanted a good road to California, preferably one that bypassed Forty Mile Desert. The Carson Trail was named after the Carson River, which was in turn named after Kit Carson, scout for John Charles Fremont who had guided the Fremont party over the Sierra through what was subsequently called Carson Pass in February 1844. His map, although in error in minor ways, was the best map available in 1848. After finally finding the Humbodlt, they continued slogging west and continuing to struggle through most of November 1841 getting over the Sierra—gradually killing and eating up their oxen for food as their food supplies dwindled. The road reverted to a free county road in 1911 and was accepted into the California State Highway system in 1926 as California State Route 4. In 1851, William Nobles surveyed a shorter variation of the Applegate–Lassen trail. [134] It is not recommended for vehicles towing long trailers or commercial truck traffic. Continuing upstream from Casper, the North Platte bends to the southwest headed for the Colorado Rockies. At river crossings their food usually had to be removed and carried across on a boat or raft to keep it dry—one of the reasons toll bridges or ferries were popular. Most of the wagons[41] had a large toolbox, mounted on the left side, usually containing an ax, wagon jack, ropes, short handled shovel, wheel chains for securing the wheels for steep descents and extra chain to hook up another team if double teaming was required for steep ascents and other tools often needed or used. 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