The California Trail was a major overland emigrant route across the Western United States from Missouri to California in the middle 19th century. "Emigrant" redirects here For the Butterflies, see Catopsilia. The Western United States &mdashcommonly referred to as the American West or simply the West &mdashtraditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost Missouri ( or) is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee California ( is a US state on the West Coast of the United States, along the Pacific Ocean. The 19th century of the Common Era began on January 1, 1801 and ended on December 31, 1900, according to the Gregorian calendar It was used by 250,000 farmers and gold-seekers to reach the California gold fields and farm homesteads in California from the early 1840s until the introduction of the railroads in the late 1860s. Gold (ˈɡoʊld is a Chemical element with the symbol Au (from its Latin name aurum) and Atomic number 79 The California Gold Rush (1848&ndash1855 began on January 24 1848 when Gold was discovered by James Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California Events and trends Technology First use of General anesthesia in an operation by Crawford Long. Events and trends Technology The First Transcontinental Railroad in the USA was completed in 1869 The original route had many branches and encompassed over 5,000 miles (8000 km) of trails. Over 1,000 miles (1600 km) of the rutted traces of the trail remain throughout the Great Basin as historical evidence of the great mass migration westward. The Great Basin is a large arid region of the western United States. Portions of the trail are now preserved by the National Park Service as the California National Historical Trail. The National Park Service ( NPS) is the United States federal agency that manages all National Parks, many National Monuments, and other conservation
The exact route of the trail depended on the starting point of the voyage, the final destination in California, as well as the condition of livestock and vehicles. The main branch of the trail across the Great Plains was identical to the Oregon and Mormon trails, going up the Missouri River then crossing Nebraska along the Platte and North Platte to present-day Wyoming. The Great Plains are the broad expanse of Prairie and Steppe which lie east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada Pioneers traveled across the Oregon Trail, one of the main overland migration routes on the North American Continent, in wagons in order to settle new parts of the The Mormon Nebraska ( is a state located on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States and The Platte River is an approximately 310 mi (499 km long river in the Western United States. The North Platte River is a tributary of the Platte River, approximately 680 mi (1094 km long in the U The State of Wyoming ( is a sparsely populated state in the western region of the United States. The trail then followed the Sweetwater River across Wyoming, crossing the continental divide at South Pass (where it diverged from the Mormon Trail). The Sweetwater River is a tributary of the North Platte River, approximately 150 mi (241 km long in the U A continental divide is a line of elevated Terrain which forms a border between two watersheds such that Water falling on one side of the line eventually South Pass (elevation) is a Mountain pass on the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Wyoming. From South Pass it went northwest to Fort Hall in the Oregon Country in present-day southeastern Idaho along the Snake River. Fort Hall was a 19th century outpost in the eastern Oregon Country, part of the present-day United States, and is located in Fort Hall Idaho. Oregon Country or Oregon (to be distinguished from the American State also called Oregon) was a predominantly American term referring to The State of Idaho ( is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States of America. The Snake River is a major Tributary of the Columbia River in the U
West of Fort Hall (near present day Pocatello, Idaho) at the junction of the Raft River and Snake River, the trail diverged from the Oregon Trail. Pocatello (ˌpoʊkəˈtɛloʊ is the County seat and largest city of Bannock County, with a small portion on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in neighboring The Raft River is a Tributary of the Snake River located in northern Utah and southern Idaho in the United States. The trail followed the Raft river southwest to near present day Almo, Idaho. Almo is a very small unincorporated town in Cassia County, Idaho, United States. It then passed through the City of Rocks and over Granite Pass where it followed southwest along Goose Creek, Little Goose Creek, and Rock Spring Creek. The City of Rocks or more formally the Silent City of Rocks is a U It passed through Thousand Springs Valley, and then along West Brush Creek to Willow Creek, then to the headwaters of the Humboldt River in present-day northeastern Nevada. The Humboldt River runs through northern Nevada in the western United States. The trail followed the north bank of the Humboldt across Nevada, passing through the narrow Carlin Canyon, which became nearly impassable during periods of high water. West of Carlin Canyon the trail climbed through Emigrant Gap then descended through Emigrant Canyon to rejoin the Humboldt at Gravelly Ford. At Gravelly Ford the trail divided into two branches, following the north and south banks of the river. The two branches rejoined at Humboldt Bar.
At the Humboldt Sink the trail again diverged, with the Truckee River Route proceeding west across the Forty Mile Desert and reaching the Truckee River at the site of modern-day Wadsworth, Nevada. Humboldt Sink is an intermittent Dry lake bed approximately 11 mi (18 km long and 4 mi (6 km across in northwestern Nevada in the United States. The Lahontan Valley and the Carson Sink playa/slough form the central portion of the lakebed of the prehistoric Lake Lahontan of Nevada, which existed at The Truckee River is a River 140 miles (225 km long in northern California and northern Nevada in the United States. Wadsworth is a Census-designated place (CDP in Washoe County, Nevada, United States. This trail then followed the Truckee River to Donner Lake, crossed the Sierra crest through Donner Pass, and then proceeded down the Sierra through Emigrant Gap. Donner Lake is a freshwater Lake in northeast California on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada and about 11 miles northwest of the much larger Lake Donner Pass (el 7085 ft / 2160 m is a high Mountain pass in the northern Sierra Nevada, located above Donner Lake about nine miles west Emigrant Gap is a gap in a ridge on the California Trail as it crosses the Sierra Nevada, to the west of what is now known as Donner Pass.
The Carson Trail (also known as the Carson River Route) proceeded south through the Forty Mile Desert, skirting the western edge of the Carson Sink and striking the Carson River near modern-day Fallon, Nevada. Carson Sink is a large Playa, approximately 300 sq mi (780 km² in area in the Lahontan Valley of northwestern Nevada. Fallon is a city in Churchill County, located in western Nevada, United States. The trail then followed the Carson River and crossed the Sierra Crest through Carson Pass. Kit Carson Pass, named after the famed explorer Kit Carson, (el Both trails ended up at Sutter's Fort, which is located in modern-day Sacramento, California. Sutter's Fort State Historic Park is a state-protected park in Sacramento California which includes Sutter's Fort and the California State Indian Museum
The Beckwourth Trail (also known as the Beckwourth Cutoff) left the Truckee River Route at Truckee Meadows (now the site of Sparks, Nevada), proceeded north to Beckwourth Pass, and then west through Plumas, Butte and Yuba counties into California's great central valley terminating at Marysville, California. The Truckee Meadows is a Valley in Northern Nevada which contains the cities of Reno and Sparks. Sparks is a city in Washoe County, Nevada, United States. The population was 66346 at the 2000 census. Beckwourth Pass (el 5221 ft / 1591 m is the lowest Mountain pass in the Sierra Nevada mountain range Marysville is the County seat of Yuba County, California, United States.
The Applegate-Lassen Cutoff left the California Trail near the modern-day Rye Patch Reservoir, and passed through the Black Rock Desert and High Rock Canyon to Goose Lake. Rye Patch State Recreation Area is a State recreation area in Nevada. The Black Rock Desert is a Dry lake bed and the surrounding Endorheic basin in northwestern Nevada in the United States. Goose Lake is a large Alkaline lake on the California - Oregon border in the western United States. There the trails split, with the Lassen Cutoff proceeding south into the Sacramento Valley along the Pit River; the Applegate Trail proceeded west into southeastern Oregon along the Lost River, and eventually up into Oregon's Willamette Valley, by following the track of the Siskiyou Trail from south-central Oregon to Portland, Oregon. Peter Lassen ( October 31, 1800 – April 26, 1859) was a Danish-American Blacksmith, Rancher and prospector. The Sacramento Valley is the portion of the California Central Valley that lies to the north of the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta in the U The Pit River or Pitt River is a major river watershed draining Northeastern California into the State's Central Valley. The Applegate Trail was a wilderness trail through today's US The Lost River is a river in northern California and southwestern Oregon in the United States, approximately 70 mi (113 km long The Willamette Valley () is the region in northwest Oregon in the United States that surrounds the Willamette River as it proceeds northward from its emergence The Siskiyou Trail stretched from California's Central Valley to Oregon's Willamette Valley; modern-day Interstate 5 follows this pioneer path Portland is a city located in the Northwestern United States, near the Confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers
The area of the Great Basin through which the trail had passed had been only partially explored during the days of Spanish and Mexican rule. Spain () or the Kingdom of Spain (Reino de España is a country located mostly in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. The United Mexican States ( or commonly Mexico (ˈmɛksɪkoʊ () is a federal constitutional Republic in North America. In 1828-29 Peter Skene Ogden, leading expeditions for the Hudson's Bay Company, explored much of the Humboldt River Valley. Peter Skene Ogden (alternately Skeene, Skein or Skeen) (baptised 12 February 1790 &ndash September 27 1854 was a Fur trapper and a Canadian In 1834 Benjamin Bonneville, a United States Army officer on leave to pursue an expedition to the west financed by John Jacob Astor, sent Joseph Walker westward from the Green River in present-day Wyoming with the mission of finding a route to California. Year 1834 ( MDCCCXXXIV) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian Calendar (or a Common Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville (April 14 1796 &ndash June 12 1878 was a French -born officer in the United States Army, fur trapper, and explorer The United States Army is a military organization whose primary mission is to "provide necessary forces and capabilities. For other pages relating to Astor see John Jacob Astor (disambiguation John Jacob Astor (born Johann Jakob or Johann Jacob Astor) ( July The Green River, located in the western United States, is the chief tributary of the Colorado River. Walker confirmed that the Humboldt River furnished a natural artery across the Great Basin.
Throughout the 1840s the trail began to be used sporadically by early settlers. Events and trends Technology First use of General anesthesia in an operation by Crawford Long. The first recorded emigrant to use the trail was John Bidwell, who led the 1841 Bidwell-Bartleson Party and later founded Chico in the Sacramento Valley. John Bidwell ( August 5 1819 &ndash April 4, 1900) was known throughout California and across the nation as an important For the game see 1841 (board game. Year 1841 ( MDCCCXLI) was a Common year starting on Friday (link In 1841 the Bartleson-Bidwell Party led by Captain John Bartleson and John Bidwell, became the first American emigrants to attempt a wagon crossing from Missouri Chico (pop 86949 is the most populous city in Butte County, California, United States, with 105000 The Sacramento Valley is the portion of the California Central Valley that lies to the north of the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta in the U Two years later in 1843, Joseph Chiles followed the same route. Year 1843 ( MDCCCXLIII) was a Common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian Calendar (or a Common In 1844, Caleb Greenwood and the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party became the first settlers to take wagons over the Sierra Nevada. Year 1844 ( MDCCCXLIV) was a Leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian Calendar (or a Leap year "Old" Caleb Greenwood (b circa 1763 Virginia - d 1849 or 1850 California was a Western U The Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party party consisted of ten families who migrated from Iowa to California prior to the Mexican-American War or the California In 1845, John C. Frémont and Lansford Hastings guided parties totaling several hundred settlers along the trail to California. Year 1845 ( MDCCCXLV) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common John Charles Frémont ( January 21, 1813 July 13, 1890) was an American military officer, explorer, the Lansford Warren Hastings (circa 1819 – 1870 is best remembered as the developer of Hastings Cutoff, a shortcut across what is now the state of Utah which was a The following year Hastings persuaded another party of emigrants to follow his "shortcut" that ran to the south of the main route. One such, the Donner Party, became the most infamous group of emigrants to follow the mountainous trail through the rough terrain later named Hastings Cutoff. The Donner Party was a group of California -bound American settlers caught up in the "westering fever" of the 1840s The Hastings Cutoff was an alternate route for Emigrants to travel to California, as proposed by Lansford Hastings.
The trickle of emigrants would become a flood after the discovery of gold in California in 1848, the same year that the U. Gold (ˈɡoʊld is a Chemical element with the symbol Au (from its Latin name aurum) and Atomic number 79 Year 1848 ( MDCCCXLVIII) was a Leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian Calendar (or a Leap S. acquired the Southwest in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ( Tratado de Guadalupe Hidalgo in Spanish) is the Peace treaty, largely dictated by the United States to Within several months of the public announcement of the discovery by President Polk in late 1848, tens of thousands of gold seekers headed westward into California to seek their fortunes during the California Gold Rush. James Knox Polk ( November 2 1795&ndashJune 15 1849 was the eleventh President of the United States, serving from March 4 1845 to March 4 1849 Year 1848 ( MDCCCXLVIII) was a Leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian Calendar (or a Leap The California Gold Rush (1848&ndash1855 began on January 24 1848 when Gold was discovered by James Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California
During pre-American Civil War "Bleeding Kansas" skirmishes between Kansas and Missouri raiders, the jumping off points for westward-bound wagon trains shifted northward. Causes of the war See also Origins of the American Civil War, Timeline of events leading to the American Civil War The coexistence of a slave-owning South Bleeding Kansas, sometimes referred to in history as Bloody Kansas or the Border War, was a series of violent events involving Free-Staters Kansas ( is a Midwestern state in the central region of the United States of America, an area often referred to as the American " Missouri ( or) is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee The trail branch John Fremont followed from Westport Landing to the Wakarusa Valley south of Lawrence, Kansas became regionally known as the "California Road. John Charles Frémont ( January 21, 1813 July 13, 1890) was an American military officer, explorer, the Westport is a historic Neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. The Wakarusa River is a tributary of the Kansas River, approximately 50 mi (80 km long in eastern Kansas in the United States. Lawrence is the sixth largest city in the US State of Kansas and the County seat of Douglas County. The branch of the California Trail John Fremont followed from Westport Landing to the Wakarusa Valley south of Lawrence Kansas became regionally known "
Part of the route of the trail across Nevada was used for the Central Pacific portion of the first transcontinental railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad was the California-to-Utah portion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in North America This article refers to a railroad built in the United States between Omaha and Sacramento completed in 1869 In the 20th century, the route was used for modern highways, in particular U.S. Highway 40 and later Interstate 80. The twentieth century of the Common Era began on Interstate 80 (I-80 is the second-longest Interstate Highway in the United States (after I-90) Ruts from the wagon wheels and names of emigrants, written with axle grease on rocks, can still be seen in the City of Rocks National Reserve in southern Idaho. The City of Rocks or more formally the Silent City of Rocks is a U