Talk:California Trail

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Description in lead[edit]

Isn't it odd to read that the California trail stretched "across the American West from Missouri to California"? Wouldn't it be more sensible to describe it as departing from the Oregon Trail at Fort Hall near Pocatello Idaho and describe its route from there? --Wetman 19:16, 10 May 2005 (UTC).

Very good but historically the trails were both basically coterminous from the middle of Nebraska westward (there were several access trails that fed the main branch, coming from several "juming off" places along the Missouri River (all the jumping off routes were used by all the trails, so it is not really accurate to associate one jumping off point with a particular trail, as you sometimes see). In any case, the trails were historically known as such along the entire route from whever a particular emigrant started until the desitnation. People going to California thought of themselves as following the California Trail the whole way, for example, and likewise the Mormons on Mormon Trail, which was coterminous with both California and Oregon Trs. up through western Wyoming. Throw in the he Pony Express route, which often followed the same wagon rut trails. On the roadway, the trails are marked that way today, with road traills that show what trail you are following (approximately of course) at any time. Where all four trails are coincidental, as in western Nebraska, the road trails has four emblems for the four trails, then in western Wyoming, it splits down to two emblems: if you go north, down to the California and Oregon Trails, you get those two emblems, along U.S. Highway 30. Finally those two trails separate in Idaho (actually branching off in several places, of course, each one called the "Parting of the Ways"). At that point you're down to one emblem on the road sign. Collectively, the group of trails is called the Emigrant Trail, but from my experience the "people-associated" stories are generally better discussed in terms of one of the trails in particular, since that's how people thought of them at the time -- Decumanus 00:12, 2005 May 11 (UTC)

KCAHTA "California Road" Legacy Supression[edit]

During Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area skirmishes between Kansas and Missouri raiders, the jumping off points for emigrant wagon trains shifted north from Gardner, Kansas. They followed the Kaw River ridges westward from the Shawnee Methodist Mission which was the same route John Fremont used from Westport Landing to the Wakarusa Valley south of Lawrence, Kansas. The Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association (KCAHTA) carefully marked this National Historic Trail branch as the "California Road."

geoWIZard-Passports 09:55, 5 December 2006 (UTC)


What happened? The source says immigration went from 44k to 1k to 50k. The middle term doesn't fit. Was there an Indian war on? or what? -LlywelynII (talk) 22:33, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

Length of Article[edit]

This article is too long. The sections about preparation, and portions of the trail east of Idaho, should be transferred to Emigrant Trail (and even then they could use some cutting). Vgy7ujm (talk) 06:13, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

I disagree -- this is a wonderful article, and much of that is wealth of detail. Maybe some careful editing could remove a few unnecessary redundancies, but it would have to be careful. As for putting some of that detail into Emigrant trail ... maybe, but as another comment indicated, people tend to think of the various "trails" individually, and in a specific historical context, not as one thing. [I actually came to the talk page to praise the article, when I saw your note.] Snogglethorpe (talk) 23:15, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

File:Humboldt River Papa 2.jpg to appear as POTD soon[edit]

Hello! This is a note to let the editors of this article know that File:Humboldt River Papa 2.jpg will be appearing as picture of the day on December 27, 2011. You can view and edit the POTD blurb at Template:POTD/2011-12-27. If this article needs any attention or maintenance, it would be preferable if that could be done before its appearance on the Main Page so Wikipedia doesn't look bad. :) Thanks! howcheng {chat} 23:03, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

Picture of the day
Travelers on the California Trail

A drawing of travelers on the California Trail, one of the major emigrant trails across the Western United States used by over 250,000 people heading west during the California Gold Rush. This, combined with those coming from the east across the Isthmus of Panama or around Cape Horn, greatly increased the population of California, and spurred the movement to make it the 31st U.S. state.

Artist: Daniel A. Jenks; Restoration: Papa Lima Whiskey
ArchiveMore featured pictures...

Chiles Party & Malheur River[edit]

The article intimates that the Malheur River can be followed into California. Since the great bend of the Malheur River north is roughly forty miles east of the present-day town of Burns, it puts you about 180 miles from the modern intersection of the California-Nevada lines with the Oregon line. This puts you through arid desolate terrain with little potable water unless you follow the Silvies River or Silver Creek down to Hart or Malheur Lake and then south along the Donner and Blitzen to the foot of Steens Mountain and the surrounding rugged, confusing terrain or you edge west between Beatty Butte and Abert Rim and down into Warner Valley and its lakes. You can follow the outlet south into Surprise Valley but this ends up on the eastern side of the equally rugged South Warner mountains and their few passes. It does hook you up to Fandango Pass, which was eventually on one of the alternate routes of the Applegate Trail. The third option is to travel about 150 miles across sagebrush, cheat grass, and alkali flats with no water and little game until you get south of Abert Lake, where Crooked Creek and the Chewaucan River flow. Water was abundant in what is now Lake County OR, and the north fork of the Pit River, although its shallow gorge and scabrock slopes at the south end of Goose Valley must have been forbidding back then, can be followed all the way to the confluence of the three main branches and on to the Sacramento.

It would be interesting to know how the Chiles party proceeded.Euonyman (talk) 22:21, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Fandango Pass[edit]

Fandango Pass is steep on the eastern slope and a gentle grade on the western slope in Fandango Valley down to Goose Valley, not the other way around as the article states. It is so steep on the eastern side that only a series of narrow switchbacks can accommodate the route.

In addition, the explanation of the route west is a little confusing, especially since Lost River is encountered after a roughly hundred mile trip up Dry Creek and a series of headland ridges, wet meadows, and high pine forest flats. Then you can head north through the marshes and sloughs of Poe and Langell Valleys, south into the arid low hills of the river's headlands, or due west skirting the rimrock and through Hopeless Pass in the cut between hills. To this day there are dirt roads west, east, and south and a highway north following all these old-time routes.Euonyman (talk) 23:02, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

"California toll roads over the Sierras": 1 correction explained[edit]

In the section: "California toll roads over the Sierras", I spotted a fixable error. Go to the paragraph on the Dutch Flat and Donner Lake Wagon Road. The article has said, "... the railhead would not actually reach Dutch Flat ... until 4 July 1866, as it was built over difficult terrain and required several extensive cuts and two tunnels to reach Dutch Flat." That's incorrect regarding the tunnels. There weren't any tunnels on the railroad below Dutch Flat when it originally opened. There was a tunnel built in 1873, to replace a difficult trestle bridge, but that tunnel wasn't needed for the initial operation to Dutch Flat. Source: Donner Pass: Southern Pacific's Sierra Crossing, by John Signor, p. 24. So I removed the words "several extensive cuts and two tunnels", replacing these words with "very heavy construction". Here's another source, which I don't have handy, but I commend it to other authors: David Haward Bain, "Empire Express." Oaklandguy (talk) 22:47, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

History and Establishment sections should be merged[edit]

(The History header is one I just added to isolate a much briefer introduction) These two sections appear to cover the same ground (sorry!) and overlap in timeframes. Combined, in chronological order, I think some subheadings (by dates?) would then help organize them for the reader. Huw Powell (talk) 12:40, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

Error in map image[edit]

The map in the section "Early history and maps of the California Trail" incorrectly labels the Pit River as part of the Sacramento. (Granted, it contributes the majority of the water flow, and probably should have been so named, but it wasn't.) Anyone able to fix that?
Bn (talk) 15:33, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

Date formats in article[edit]

Is there a compelling reason why this article uses {{Use dmy dates}}? Apparently, the article used the traditional 'mdy dates' prior to September 2011 when they were inexplicably changed to 'dmy dates'. As an indisputably American topic, the article should use the American 'mdy dates' format. If there is no objection to this over the next week or so, I intend to convert the article's date formats to 'mdy dates', as per MOS:DATETIES... --IJBall (contribstalk) 23:25, 11 April 2016 (UTC)

Per WP:ENGVAR, I don't think you have to wait. Even if the article were originally written in British, its U.S.-only nature means it should have been immediately changed. —EncMstr (talk) 04:07, 12 April 2016 (UTC)
Well, yeah, that, and the fact that the article was using 'mdy dates' before September 2011, so it's not just a MOS:DATETIES issue – it's a MOS:DATERET issue too!! Anyway, I'll go ahead and change the date format... --IJBall (contribstalk) 05:41, 12 April 2016 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done! --IJBall (contribstalk) 05:46, 12 April 2016 (UTC)

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