I'm changing the theme of my blog from gold prospecting too seeking gold! Any type of gold in other words any way we can make enough money to buy Gold or Silver
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The California Trail - Rush to Gold
California Trail courtesy National Park Service
"If we never see each other again, do the best you can, God will take care of us."
- Patty Reed of the Donner-Reed Party 1846
TheCalifornia Trailcarried over 250,000 gold-seekers and farmers to the gold fields and rich farmlands of theGolden Stateduring the 1840s and 1850s, the greatest mass migration in American history. The general route began at various jumping off points along theMissouriRiver and stretched to various points inCalifornia,Oregon, and the SierraNevada. The specific route that emigrants and forty-niners used depended on their starting point inMissouri, their final destination inCalifornia, the condition of their wagons and livestock, and yearly changes in water and forage along the different routes. The trail passes through the states ofMissouri,Kansas,Nebraska,Colorado,Wyoming,Idaho,Utah,Nevada,Oregon, andCalifornia.
Before the trail was blazed, the Great Basin region had only been partially explored during the days of Spanish and Mexican rule. However, that changed in 1832 when Benjamin Bonneville, a United States Army officer, requested a leave of absence to pursue an expedition to the west. The expedition was financed by John Jacob Astor, a rival of the Hudson Bay company. While Bonneville was exploring the Snake River inWyoming, he sent a party of men under Joseph Walker to explore the Great Salt Lake and find an overland route toCalifornia.
Early settlers began to use the trail in the 1840's, the first of which was John Bidwell, who led the 1841 Bidwell-Bartleson Party. In 1842, a member of the Bidwell-Bartleson Party returned toMissourion the Humboldt River Route. Among them was a man named Joseph Chiles, who would lead another party toCaliforniain 1843 and play an important part in the subsequent opening of more segments of the California Trail. Throughout the 1840's settlers would develop short cuts on the route toCalifornia. One such short cut, called the Hastings Route, ran south of the main route. This "new" route would spell the death of many of those in the infamousDonner Party.
The main branch of the trail across the Great Plains generally followed the same path as theOregonand Mormon Trails, but extended toCaliforniafrom various points in southernWyomingandIdaho. The trail followed theMissouriRiver before crossing the great plains ofNebraskaalong the Platte and North Platte Rivers to present-dayWyoming. It then followed the Sweetwater River acrossWyoming, then northwest along the Snake River to Fort Hall in present-day southeasternIdaho. Fort Hall was the Hudson Bay Company's post on the Snake River. From here, the primary route followed the Snake Riversouth to American Falls, past Massacre Rocks, and Register Rock to cross the Raft River. After the crossing of the river, the trail split with theOregon Trail, with theCaliforniabound emigrants turning south through the Raft River Valley to the City of Rocks.The trail then climbed through the Pinnacle and Granite Passes, before dropping down to Goose Creekand meandering south through the northwest corner ofUtahand intoNevada. Atthe headwaters of the Humboldt River in present-day northwesternNevadatheCalifornia Trailfollowed the north bank of the Humboldt River southwest through present day Elko,Nevadaand the narrow Carlin Canyon, where, during periods of high water, the route was almost impassable.
West of Carlin, theCalifornia Trailclimbed Emigrant Pass, descending into Emigrant Canyon to rejoin the Humboldt River at Gravelly Ford. Here, the route divided to follow the north and south sides of the river, before rejoining at Humboldt Bar. Various routes branched out across the SierraNevada, as the emigrants made there way tovarious destinations inCalifornia.
Early emigrants once called the California Trail an elephant, due to the difficult journey. If you wanted to get toCaliforniain pre-railroad times, you were guaranteed an arduous trek.Californiaemigrants faced the greatest challenges of all the pioneer emigrants of the mid-19th century. In addition to the Rockies, these emigrants faced the barren deserts ofNevadaand the imposing SierraNevadaRange.
"I think that I may without vanity affirm
that I have seen the elephant."
- Louisa Clapp
The travelers of the California Trail often quipped that if you had "seen the elephant," then you had hit some hard traveling.
When gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in Coloma,California, the trickle of emigrants became a flood as thousands of prospectors and families made their way to the Golden State in hopes of finding their fortunes. According to some statistics, over 70,000 emigrants used the California Trail in 1849 and 1850 alone.
In the two decades of the 1840's and 1850's, the California Trailcarried over 250,000 gold-seekers and farmers to the state's gold fields and rich farmlands. It was the greatest mass migration in American history.
Eventually, the portions of the railroad followed parts of theCalifornia Trailand as the automobile was introduced and began to be used by the masses, highways replaced the trail. Today, U.S. Highways 40 and 80 follow the path of theCalifornia Trail.
TheCalifornia Trailsystem, which now includes approximately 5,665 miles of trails, was developed over a period of years. Numerous cutoffs and alternate routes were tried along theCalifornia Trailto see which was the "best" in terms of terrain, length and sufficient water and grass for livestock.
Today, more than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen in the vast undeveloped lands between Casper,Wyomingand the West Coast, reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American travelers and settlers.About 2,171 miles of this system cross public lands, where most of the physical evidence that still exists today is located, including the names of emigrants written with axle grease on the rocks at theCity of RocksNational Reservein southernIdaho.More than 300 historic sites along the trail will eventually be available for public use and interpretation.