“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Montpelier in Bear Lake County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)

The McAuley Cutoff

The McAuley Cutoff Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2015
1. The McAuley Cutoff Marker
Inscription. On April 7, 1852, seventeen-year-old Eliza Ann McAuley, with her older brother Thomas and sister Margaret, left Mount Pleasant, Iowa, to travel overland to California. For a time they were accompanied by the "Eddyville Company," led by William Buck and Ezra Meeker.
Eliza Ann left a notable diary account of the journey west and here on July 15 she wrote:
Traveled ten miles today and camped on Bear River. Just before coming to the river we had the hardest mountain to cross on the whole route. It was very steep and difficult to climb, and we had to double teams going up and at the summit we had to unhitch the teams and let the wagons down over a steep, smooth sliding rock by ropes would around trees by the side of the road. Some trees are nearly cut through by ropes. The boys fished awhile then took a ramble around the country and discovered a pass, by which the mountain can be avoided by doing a little road building.
On July 17 the Meekers went on toward Oregon, but William Buck remained behind with the McAuleys. Here they stayed for fourteen days building a road around Big Hill. On July 24 Eliza wrote: "We have 8 or 9 hands today to work on the road. The boys want to get it finished to save people from having to cross that dreadful mountain."
One hired hand, William H. Hampton of Galesburg, Illinois, wrote
The McAuley Cutoff Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, September 11, 2015
2. The McAuley Cutoff Marker
This marker is located between the two larger signs.
on July 24: "Still laying over and working we get $2 per day. Hot and sultry working at the foot of the mountain."
The road was completed by July 29 and the McAuleys continued west leaving Thomas McAuley and William Buck to "remain on the road a week or two to collect Toll and pay the expenses of making it."
On present-day maps the cutoff begins on private ranch land on Sheep Creek, about five miles east of here. From there Highway 30 follows the approximate route of the cutoff around the south base of Big Hill, some seven and one-half miles farther west.
On August 7, 1852, John McAllister took the cutoff: "by going it you avoid a long ascent, a long steep & rough & dangerous descent."
On August 13 Cecelia Adams wrote: "the new road is two miles farther but saves some very high mountains."
No references can be found of the use of the cutoff in subsequent years. Rising waters of the Bear River may have washed the road away or perhaps nature, unchecked, took control again with a new growth of thickets and brush.
The McAuley or "Eliza Ann" Cutoff will never rank among the great shortcuts of the Oregon-California Trail, but it does reflect the initiative and thought of a group of young Americans in the year 1852.
The McAuleys reached California September 18. To years later Eliza Ann married Robert Seeley Egbert. She died in Berkeley, California, November 16, 1919, at the age of eighty-three.
Erected 1992 by Oregon-California Trails Association.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Oregon Trail marker series.
Location. 42° 14.159′ N, 111° 13.987′ W. Marker is near Montpelier, Idaho, in Bear Lake County. Marker is on U.S. 30 at milepost 441.7 near Hunters Lane, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Montpelier ID 83254, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Big Hill (here, next to this marker); McAuley's Road (here, next to this marker); Big Hill... (a few steps from this marker); Hot, Cold, Dry, Wet, Dusty, 2,000-Mile Trail (a few steps from this marker); Idaho's Emigrant Trails (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Big Hill (a few steps from this marker); One Continual Stream (within shouting distance of this marker); Smith's Trading Post (approx. 1.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Montpelier.
Categories. Roads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 124 times since then and 67 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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