You have arrived at this place by driving east on Interstate Highway 80. Did you know that since entering Nevada you have been traveling along the route of the historic California Trail? From 1843 to 1869, an estimated 250,000 people made the trek from the Missouri River to California on a rutted dusty road that was a dramatic contrast to today's high-speed freeway.
The California Trail began at the Missouri River and crossed the future states of Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada before reaching California. The distance was approximately 2,000 miles. The California Trail was the major travel route to the West until the Pacific Railroad was completed in 1869.
Only a few hours of driving time has brought you from Reno or Carson City in western Nevada to this point. For a California emigrant, the same distance took over two weeks of walking in the heat and dust of August and September, and upon reaching the Sierra Nevada mountains, they still had 150 miles of walking and climbing before they would reach their destination, central and northern California.
As you travel east, you will parallel the California Trail from here to Wells, Nevada - about 90 miles, or six days of emigrant travel. From Wells, the trail turns northeast into Idaho and does not rejoin Interstate 80 until Fort Bridger, Wyoming. As you travel on, consider what you would experience in the miles you see from your car window if you were walking through uninhabited country with worn out boots, tattered clothes, tired livestock, and scant food supplies.
"Clouds of dust arise as we pass along the road...I do not think our own mothers would know their sons were they to see us...Some of us are shoeless, hatless, and nearly clothless and we are generally so tired when we arrive at camp that we feel no inclination to mend or repair the rents our clothes sustain on our journey."
Joseph Waring Berrin; 1849