California Trail - Legacy


One of the main enduring legacies of the Oregon and California Trails is the expansion of the United States territory to the West Coast. Without the many thousands of United States settlers in Oregon and California with their "boots on the ground" and more thousands on their way each year, it is highly unlikely that this would have occurred. Surprising to some, the Oregon and California Trails were both established as known emigrant routes in 1841 by the same emigrant party. In 1841 the Bartleson-Bidwell Party group set out for California, but about half the party left the original group at Soda Springs, Idaho and proceeded to the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the other half proceeded on to 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 towards Omaha, Nebraska. The trail branch John Fremont followed from Westport Landing to the Wakarusa Valley south of Lawrence, Kansas became regionally known as the "California Road."

Part of the same general route of the trail across Nevada was used for the Central Pacific portion of the first transcontinental railroad. In the 20th century, the route was used for modern highways, in particular U.S. Highway 40 and later Interstate 80. 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.

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Famous quotes containing the word legacy:

    What is popularly called fame is nothing but an empty name and a legacy from paganism.
    Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1466–1536)