California Trail





A GUIDE TO THE
CALIFORNIA TRAIL
TO THE HUMBOLDT RIVER
(Third Edition – 2010)

FROM THE RAFT RIVER TO THE
HUMBOLDT RIVER AND HUMBOLDT WELLS
[at Wells, Nevada]





A Guide To The California Trail To The Humboldt River




 

 

 

 



A GUIDE TO THE
CALIFORNIA TRAIL
ALONG THE HUMBOLDT RIVER
(Third Edition – 2012)

FROM THE HUMBOLDT WELLS
TO THE HUMBOLDT SINK
 





A Guide To The California Trail Along The Humboldt  River



 

 

If you would rather pay by personal check, an order form is on the “Trail Guides For Purchase” page.

 

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The information in the two guides to the California Trail are presented in a similar format. The first guide is of the eastern section of the trail and is “A Guide To The California Trail To The Humboldt River” and covers the section of the trail from the Raft River to Humboldt Wells. It includes information on the 32 markers along this section.

The second guide of the western section of the trail is “A Guide To The California Trail Along The Humboldt River” and covers the section from Humboldt Wells to the Humboldt Sink and includes the 72 markers along this part of the trail.

The following information is an example of what is included in both guides, as most people purchase them as a set.

1. A description of each of the 105 Inscription Plates that are attached to the Trails West Markers along this trail.  Presented below is a sample of one of these Inscription Plates:

2. How-To-Find instructions.  These explicit written instructions are designed to take the modern traveler along the California Trail and the Greenhorn Cutoff the quickest but safest way from one Trails West Marker to the next. When the written instructions for driving to a marker become too complex, a supplemental map is provided to help you find the location.

3. The approximate location of each Trails West Marker using GPS Latitude/Longitude and UTM coordinates.

4. Cautionary notes, where appropriate, to warn the user of the Guide where difficulties might be encountered.

5. 393 quotations from 142 emigrant diaries and journals spanning the period from 1841 to 1863.  Of these 142 diaries and journals, 87 were published while 55 were not. These Overland Narratives help give the modern traveler a feeling of what it must have been like at or near each Marker location when the mid-1800’s emigrants passed by.  Presented below is a sample of one of the diary quotations or Overland Narratives included in these Guides:

“July 6.  8 miles travel brought us to Raft River here our course turned up the valley, twice crossing it. …an hour or two before nooning Ed McCarty and Reyney from Lexington Ky overtook us. we had quite a friendly meeting, found and tapped a bottle of old Bourbon and had great jollification- the boys dined with us today, being an extraordinary occurrence to have visitors in the mountains, the “judge” tried himself, got up spedily and in good stile a most excellent dinner. Indeed the boys were surprised and astonished at findin such comforts and luxuries here in the mountains”           –Dr. William L. Thomas, 1849
(One of the Overland Narratives For Marker C-2)

6. Thirty historical commentaries and eight “Tales of the Trail” relating to areas near a marker.  Some commentaries include capsule histories of the areas that are unique to this guide.  Presented below is a short sample of the historical commentaries included in the new guide:

“…. Contrary to popular beliefs about the ferocity of Plains Indians, between 1840 and 1860 approximately 90 percent of all emigrants killed by Indians took place west of South Pass, principally along the Snake River and Humboldt River routes and on the Applegate and Lassen Trails. …”
Part of the Commentary on Indian-Emigrant Relations along the Humboldt

7. Trail descriptions.  The route of the trail and the difficulties encountered on that route is described for each marker.  For some markers, additional information about 4-wheel drive trip along the trail is provided.  To follow these additional instructions, a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is generally needed.  Presented below is a sample of the 15 Additional Trips information presented in the California Trail Guide:

TRAIL DESCRIPTION AND 4WD TRIP
Remains of the original Southside Trail pass by Button Point heading west for a quarter-mile between the frontage road and railroad tracks, after which the trail weaves across the tracks for a half-mile, and then returns to the south side of the tracks for a quarter-mile to Marker C-61A. From the marker, the original trail descends into a gully (see photo on page 100) and merges with the dirt road for the next 13/4 miles to a housing development which blocks further travel on the Southside Trail.

To drive to the next marker, turn left (south) for a quarter-mile to Prairie Dog Ave. on the right. Turn right and go about one mile to Thompson Drive. Turn left. Go about 2 1/2 miles to Pedroli Lane. Turn left. Go three-quarters mile to a “T” junction. Turn left to I-80 interchange, Exit 180, East Winnemucca. Go 2 miles on I-80 to Exit 178, Winnemucca Blvd. East. Turn left on Winnemucca Blvd. and follow the How-To-Find instructions to Marker C-61B on page 100.

By this time along the Humboldt River, the wear and tear on livestock had taken its toll. Increasingly, parties like James Evans’ company, abandoned their wagons to pack the rest of the way to California. Though 1850 may have been a worse year in this respect, the same tendency occurred in 1849. Near Lassen Meadows on July 17, 1849, Peter Decker recorded-perhaps exaggerating-that “Packers pass us daily probably 3/4th of the Emigrants will pack last part of trip.”
( Trip Description for Marker C-61A)

8. 97 photographs of locations along the trail. Most of these are unique to this Guide.

9. 31 maps unique to this guide.  These maps show the route(s) the emigrants actually followed. Sometimes the route(s) shown can still be seen as ruts, a depression, a scar, or an area of moved rocks. In other cases, the route shown is now a road or is no longer visible due to modern development.
Compared to other trail guides, the maps in the two California Trail Guides are more complete.  Instead of merely showing one, generalized trail, the maps in Emigrant Trails West identify, where they exist, segments of the California Trail that have not been used by motor vehicles, segments that have been used by motor vehicles, and segments that are identified in emigrant diaries but can not be physically located.  In addition, alternate routes are identified.

10. The emigrant traveling to California in the mid-1800s had approximately 860 miles of trails he or she could travel from the Raft River to the Humboldt Sink.  Making their choice of route, the typical emigrant would travel about 530 miles.  Special features include an introductory history of the California Trails and travel along the Humboldt River, historical commentaries on emigrant travel, emigrant trail poems, life of a mule packer, a Fourth of July celebration, violence at Stony Point, river drownings, along with an extensive bibliography.

For a photo tour of the California Trail click here.