Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trails Across Nebraska

The Great Migration across the middle of the continent primarily began in 1841.  Earlier than that  steamboats brought people on the Missouri River to the eastern part of the territory of Nebraska.  During a twenty year period of time, approximately 40 to 50 steamboats plied the waters of the Missouri River.  The Platte River served as a natural corridor for migration and eventually provided a vital link from ocean to ocean.  The primary trails in Nebraska included: 

South Pass Trail- key to the Continental Divide and then on to the west coast; the Platte River provided a natural link to the South Pass in what is now Colorado 

Oregon Trail -  a famous trail that followed the Little Blue and Platte River Valleys with eastern connecting points along the Missouri River at Bellevue, Nebraska City and actually further south at St. Joseph and Westport Landing in Missouri

Mormon Trail - originally used by fleeing Mormons who camped at Florence in what is now Omaha, also known as Winter Quarters 

California Trail or California Road - used by gold seekers; also known as the Independence Road; followed the Oregon Trail until it reached the area near Fort Hall and then dipped southward to Sutter's Fort in California 

Overland Stage Trail - alternative route designed in 1858; provided a link from the Platte River to the Green River area; a more direct route than the original route along the North Platte River; went up the Lodgepole to Cheyenne Pass; became the route taken by the Union Pacific Railroad 

The two most famous trails in Nebraska were the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail. Traditionally the Oregon Trail followed the south side of the Platte River.  The Mormon Trail was on the north side of the Platte River, then following the North Platte River westward. However, in my years of research of early pioneers using both of these trails, this was not always true.  In some cases diaries reveal that pioneers to Oregon were also on the north side of the river and in a few cases Mormons were traveling on the south side toward Utah.   In some years the river changed course and in some cases flooded, so the routes would be diverted.  

I live between the rivers, a short distance north of the South Platte River.  Further north along the North Platte River would be the route of the Mormon trail.  The magnitude of people traveling through here is incomprehensible.  This all took place to make Nebraska a great state. I hope you enjoy the YouTube video, "This is Nebraska."  It is one of my favorites.  

1 comment:

  1. I really like your Nebraska Roots and Ramblings their are thing that I didn't know.

    Nancy Mancuso