Trails West

Across the Plains
And Mountains

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The Applegate Trail | The Beckwourth Trail
The Bozeman Trail
The California Trail | The Cherokee Trail
Crossing the Great Divide: South Pass
The Mormon Trail | The Nevada Emigrant Trail
The Nez Perce Trail | The Oregon Trail
The Overland Trail | The Pony Express
The Smoky Hill Trail... and the Butterfield Overland Dispatch
South Pass
Trails to the Gold Rush
Western Trails. . .Across Plains and Mountains

  • The Applegate Trail: "Betty of Sunny Valley" Sunset's Magazine's article by Peter Fish.
  • The Applegate Trail Family History
  • The Applegate Trail An alternative to the arduous Oregon Trail. It diverted from the main trail at Fort Hall, Idaho and headed through Nevada, to California, and on to Oregon. But it actually was just as tough.
  • Applegate's Road to Oregon The Applegate Trail was used by Oregonians to get a head start on the 49ers coming from the East. They followed the Applegate Trail to Tule Lake and then the Lassen Cutoff to the Sacramento River
  • A good history of the Applegate Trail and its establishment by the Applegate Brothers.
  • The Applegate Trail: Go The Distance! A summary and a good map.
  • The Applegate-Lassen Trail The Fandango Pass Section
  • The Applegate Trail, blazed in 1846 as an alternate, and hopefully safer route to Oregon.
  • The Applegate Trail Intrepretive Center offers a glimpse into the colorful history of this rugged area through the stories of the pioneer settlers, the naming of Grave Creek, the discovery of gold, the impact of the stageline, and the building of the railroad.
  • The BLM's page on the Applegate Trail
  • Historic Trails The Applegates were among the earliest settlers in Douglas County. The three brothers and their wives - Charles and Melinda, Jesse and Cynthia Ann, Lindsay and Elizabeth - crossed the Oregon Trail in 1843 on one of the first wagon trains.
  • The Men of the South Road Expedition The Men of the Applegate Trail who tried to find a southern route to the Oregon Trail
  • Sunny Valley Applegate Trail Interpretive Center The interpretive center is a 17-year dream come true for Betty Gaustad, who is also the society's president, has been collecting pieces for a museum and planning for a center for years.
  • Books on The Applegate Trail From

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  • African-Ameican Fur Traders and Frontiersmen An article by the Superintendent of the Fort Laramie National Historic Site illustrating the wide ranging impact made by blacks in all areas of the fur trade.
  • Along the Beckwourth Trail Follow the Trail, and click on points to read of that area
  • James P. Beckwourth: Rugged individualist and a trail blazer
  • James Beckwourth: The Mountain Man
  • Beckwourth Frontier Days: Marysville, California Established to honor James P. Beckwourth, an unsung, genuine American hero who created a lower, safer passage across the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the mid-1800s.
  • James P. Beckwourth: A Biography From the Stamps on Black History web page.
  • The Beckwourth Trail: "Living Large in the West" Sunset Magazaine's article by Peter Fish.
  • Beckwourth On The Santa Fe Trail Beckwourth and others set out on the Santa Fe Trail for Fort Vasquez, established in 1835 on the Platte River in what is now Colorado. Beckwourth was named "agent-in-charge," and he immediately set out to establish himself among the Cheyenne. Through a Crow interpreter, he put on a display of braggadocio for the astonished Indians, playing on their pride and respect for the brave deeds of enemy warriors.
  • The Beckwourth Trail Route In Plumas National Forest, Northern California, on the National Register of Historic Places
  • The Beckwourth Trail A route to the Gold Country; includes a good map.
  • The Beckwourth Trail The Beckwourth Trail originated from The California Trail, a system of wagon roads and pack trails used by the emigrants of 1841 and later as they forged their way to California.
  • Following the Beckwourth Trail by car and on foot
  • The James P. Beckwourth Mountain Club located in Denver Colorado
  • California National Historic Trail The Beckwourth Trail is a portion of this.
  • The Mountain Man Rendezvous from the Overland Trail web site
  • Map for Beckwourth Pass
  • Books about Jim Beckwourth From

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  • The Bozeman Trail The Bozeman Trail began as a gold-rush trail--a shortcut from the main trail on the North Platte River to the gold fields of Montana. Read how this trail led to military occupation of the region, and ultimately resulted in the Indian wars on the Northern Plains. Also includes a lot of information regarding Historic Sites in the Bozeman Trail Corridor, maps, diaries, and a calendar of events for the year 2000.
  • The Bozeman Trail Project The Bozeman Trail was integral to American western expansion. The Bozeman Trail was actually two distinct emigrant and military trails that were widely separated in some places but overlapped in others. The Bozeman Trail began as a gold-rush trail. As a shortcut from the main overland trail on the North Platte River to the goldfields in Montana, it overlaid earlier Indian, trader, and exploration routes in Wyoming and Montana. Read about the Bozeman Trail Project and its activities in the Year 2000.
  • The Bozeman Trail The Bozeman Trail was blazed as a fast way to get to the gold mines in Western Montana. Read about the hardships John Bozeman endured while trying to establish the route.
  • The Bozeman Trail And also information about the preservation, development, & interpretation at Fort Phil Kearny, and the Fetterman & Wagon Box Battles
  • The Bozeman Trail Where Settlers and Sioux Collided. In 1868 a treaty between the U.S. Government and the Sioux Nation shut down the Bozeman Trail, but the conflicts over it signaled the beginning of the end of a way of life for the Plains Indians.
  • Museum of the West A regional, western history museum, dedicated to preserving the integrity of the American West, in particular, the Powder River-Bozeman Trail Region.
  • Travel the Bozeman Trail: A guide for the casual traveler and scholar alike While only about 3,500 emigrants traversed the trail in 1864-66, its most significant consequence was that it cut through the Powder River Basin, the last and best hunting grounds of the Northern Plains Indians, and led to military occupation of the region and ultimately resulted in the Indian wars on the Northern Plains.

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  • "California As I Saw It" First person narratives of California's early years: 1849-1900. This comprehensive web site consists of the full texts and illustrations of 190 works documenting the formative era of California's history through eyewitness accounts. This collection covers the dramatic decades between the Gold Rush and the turn of the twentieth century.
  • California Emigrant Trail images along the trail
  • The California National Historic Trail This trail carried over 200,000 gold-seekers and farmers to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840's and 1859's, the greatest mass migration in American history.
  • The California Trail Map OCTA's clickable map of the California Trail.
  • The Emigrant Summit Trail --known as the Carson Route--includes the highest known point ever crossed by emigrants' wagons heading for the California gold fields.
  • The Establishment of the California Trail The trail to California was by members of the "Emigrant Societies" formed in the 1840's
  • The Geography of the California Trail The Traveled Routes-Elevation, Plains and Mountains from the OCTA Web Site.
  • The Route Through Truckee Meadows Extensive research over the past decade has revealed a far more complex development of emigrant wagon trails into and across Truckee Meadows in the 1840's and 50's than emigrant trail historians have heretofore realized.
  • The Search for a Southern Route to California A significant Spanish presence in New Mexico began in 1598, nine years before the founding of Jamestown. When the Spanish discovered that they could not adequately supply and populate their California settlements by a sea route from Mexico's western coast, they pioneered an overland route from Sonora to southern California. The year was 1774, two years before the signing of the American Declaration of Independence and fifty-two years before Jedediah Smith became the first American to enter California by an overland route.
  • An Overview Map Showing Truckee-Donner
  • Opening of the California Trail: 1994: The 150th Anniversary and the Stephens - Murphy - Townsend Party

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  • The Cherokee Trail In 1849 a group of whites and Cherokee pioneered the first wagon road northwest through northeastern Oklahoma. The trail then continued west along the Santa Fe Trail, north along the Front Range of Colorado and then through southern Wyoming towards California.
  • A Clickable Map of the Cherokee Trail
  • The Cherokee Trail passes through Jimmy Camp named for an Indian trader called Jimmy, family name unknown. Once a year during the 1830's Jimmy was said to have brought his wagons to this beautiful valley in the shadow of Pikes Peak, on the eastern edge of Colorado Springs.
  • Fagan's Grave Just over 150 years ago a teamster named Michael Fagan was buried beside the Cherokee Trail in what is now central Colorado. His grave remains there still, in mute testimony to the history of the region.
  • The Cherokee Trail from the White Mountain Junior High School in Rock Springs, WY
  • The Cherokee Trail by Louis L'Amour This book is filled with good storytelling and there is plenty of action to go around.
  • Cherokee Trail Ruts Good image and map of the trail and ruts through southern Wyoming.
  • The Cherokee Trail From the Overland Trail site

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  • The Heritage Gateways: Mormon Pioneer Trail
  • The PBS web site on the Mormon Trail includes a story about the Invention of the Roadometer.
  • The Mormon Trail from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley.
  • The Mormon Trail: "The Cost of Salvation" Sunset Magazine's article by Peter Fish.
  • Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail From 1846-1869, about 70,0000 Mormons traveled along an integral part of the road west, the Mormon Pioneer Trail.
  • A very comprehensive index to many Mormon Pioneer References
  • On The Trail to Zion: Mormon Pioneers
  • A listing of Mormon Trail Sites across Iowa
  • The Morman Road in Kansas Territory
  • Women on the Mormon Trail
  • Mormon Pioneers Page
  • Books about The Mormon Trail From

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  • The Trail Through Nevada It has been estimated that some 200,000 people took this arduous route to California through Nevada between 1840 and 1860, the greatest peacetime migration in history. By comparison, 53,000 people traveled the Oregon Trail during that same period.
  • The Central Nevada Emigrant Trail Association Headquartered at Battle Mountain, Nevada
  • The Drama of the Emigrant Trail Pioneers Recount the Challenge of the Truckee Route
  • Where The Heck IS California, Anyway? In November of 1828, Peter Skeen Ogden came down from the north and discovered the Humboldt River, the last major river in America to be discovered. This was to become the highway across Nevada--and to California!

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  • The NPS's web site on the Nez Perce National Historical Park
  • The Nez Perce Interpretive Center Located in the beautiful Wallowa Valley in the far northeast corner of Oregon
  • The Nez Perce National Historic Trail Foundation includes lots of links to other Nez Perce sites
  • The Flight of the Nez Perce: Through the Bitterroot Valley, Hamilton Montana. Quite a bit of information about the Nez Perce
  • The Nez Perce Home Page developed by University of Idaho students.
  • The Nez Perce Trail: "Joseph's Country" Sunset Magazine's article by Peter Fish.
  • Words spoken by Chief Joseph
  • Chief Joseph Surrenders: Great Speeches from The History Place
  • The Nee-Me-Poo National Recreation Trail Nee-Me-Poo = the real people. "Let me be a free man - free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade, where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my father, free to think and talk and act for myself - and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty." Chief Joseph in Jan. 14, 1879
  • A Map of the Nez Perce Trail
  • A collection of Nez Perce Literature This site also includes information on foods, dances, and the appaloosa horse
  • Narrative Reversals: The Historical Poem as Fiction and The Historical Document as Poetry An interesting exploration of how narrative authenticity becomes a question of propaganda disguised as poetry

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  • Spotlight of the Month January 2001 Pony Express Home Station Ranked among the most remarkable feats to come out of the 1860 American West, the Pony Express was in service from April 1860 to November 1861. Its primary mission was to deliver mail and news between St. Joseph, Missouri, and San Francisco, California. Visit the "Bunkhouse" where you'll find links to the history of the Pony Express, a list of riders, stations located from 5 to 20 miles apart, museums along the route, statues, and much more! You'll also find stories of the Pony Express as published in the newspapers of the times, and "Pony Tales."
  • The Pony Express Trail: "The Middle of Everywhere" Sunset Magazine's article by Peter Fish.
  • The Pony Express School House This page was created particularly for students and teachers (and anyone else) who wish to use the resources of the Pony Express Home Station.
  • "Pony Tales:" a collection of newspaper articles from the 1860's reporting the goings on of the Pony Express.
  • Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic SiteHollenberg Station served as a relay point for the Pony Express.
  • The Rock Creek Stage Station in Nebraska, used by the Pony Express as a swing station and Holladay's Overland Stage. "Wild Bill" Hickok was hired as a stable hand here in 1861.
  • Broncho Charlie: The Youngest Rider of the Pony Express In July, 1861, 11 year old Broncho Charlie mounted a riderless Pony Express horse, dashed out of Sacramento, on his way to Placerville and hence, became the youngest rider of the Pony Express. He rode faithfully for five months, until the operation shut down in November of that same year. At 81, he rode again from New York City to San Francisco on a seven month adventure to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Pony Express!
  • The Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri
  • Pony Express History The Pony Express actually began as an advertisement. Its purpose was to draw public attention to the central route in hopes of gaining the million dollar government mail contract for the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company (COC&PP).
  • The History of the Pony Express The University of Kansas web site
  • Pony Express Information From AmericaWest
  • The Pony Express Out went the call in 1860. And the applicants streamed in. The position? Riders for the first overland mail courier service connecting the eastern States with California, the Pony Express.
  • The Pony Express on the US Postal Service web pages.
  • Books on The Pony Express From Barnesand

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  • Smoky Hill Trail History and this site too from the Kansas Historic Trails page
  • An account of travels with the Brantner/Smith Party along The Smoky Hill Trail
  • The Butterfield Overland Dispatch on The Smoky Hill Route
  • The Butterfield Overland Despatch or Smoky Hill Trail On July 8, 1844, John Fremont located the junction of several small sandy creeks which proved to be the beginning of the Smoky Hill River. The life of the Smoky Hill route really began when David A. Butterfield took hold of it in 1865.
  • Names and Location of Butterfield Overland Dispatch Stage Stations in Western Kansas
  • Mapping and Marking the Butterfield Overland Dispatch
  • Maps of the Butterfield Stations
  • Mapping and Marking the Butterfield Overland Despatch Trail In November of 1958 the Butterfield Route was mapped, but in over 90 years since the trail was first surveyed, the Smoky Hill River changed its course, partially obliterating the Trail.
  • Fort Wallace Established in 1865 as Camp Pond Creek was one of four military posts protecting the Smoky Hill Trail
  • Books about Smoky Hill From

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  • Cheyenne to Deadwood Stage Line A treacherous trail for l870s travelers: Following the route charted in the Cheyenne office, the first Gilman and Salisbury coaches followed a trail of recognizable landmarks across the lonely prairies into the rugged mountainous area of the latest gold rush.
  • The Meeteetsee Trail The Meeteetsee Trail was founded in 1881 by the US Army. This old stage and freight road headed out of Red Lodge, Montana south to Meeteetsee, Wyoming. It is about 100 miles long.
  • Sanderson's Overland Stage Company Mileage Chart from Junction City, Kansas to Santa Fe New Mexico, along the The Dry Route of the Santa Fe Trail.
  • Stagecoach Routes in Hamilton County Iowa The earliest stagecoach came to Hamilton County Iowa in about 1853. The last stagecoach passed through the county in 1869.
  • The Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway Company. Transportation has always been central to the control of East Kootenay. When several thousand miners stampeded to a new gold strike on Wild Horse Creek in 1864, they followed very rough and circuitous trails.

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