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

California Trail

An Epic Migration that Opened the West

California Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 14, 2018
1. California Trail Marker
Inscription. "August 26, Sabbath."
"... We got a late start traveled directly across the valley before us, (Almo Valley) amidst the best scenery we have seen since we have been among these hills. South, a high range of mountains (Raft River Mountains) speckled with snow.
East, a range of high bluffs (Jim Sage Mountains) with a level pla(i)n (sic) at the foot. West the marble buildings; and in the background high, broken and detached cragged mountains (Castle Rocks) speckled with pure white marble cropping out in ledges. Halted to noon in a ravine bounded with the most splendid rock scenery I ever beheld... (City of Rocks)"
-- From the diary of William Swain, August 1849

The year was 1848, the place -- Sutter's Mill, California. Word spread to the East like wildfire that gold had bee discovered along the South Fork of the American River. That same year in December, President James K. Polk confirms the discovery -- setting into motion a mass migration of men, women, and children from Missouri that would peak at more than 250,000 people traveling this way to California.
Known as the "49'ers," they passed where you are standing on the California Trail headed toward City of Rocks. As emigrants topped the Elba-Almo Divide located behind you, they may have watched dust trails from wagon trains traveling the Salt Lake
California Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 14, 2018
2. California Trail Marker
Caption: (bottom, panorama of features L to R) Raft River Mountains, Salt Lake Alternate, Almo Valley, Smoky Mountain, City of Rocks, Castle Rock, Cache Peak.
Alternate in the distant valley. From the divide, they headed south and west toward the now famous City of Rocks. City of Rocks provided a welcome campsite for weary travelers who had been on the trail for nearly one hundred days, accomplishing 800 miles of a 1,200-mile journey.
By 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad, along with new gold and silver strikes found in Nevada and Idaho, signaled the end of the California Trail.
As you retrace the California Trail today, you'll be on a voyage of discovery - experiencing first hand what the early emigrants observed traveling toward the City of Rocks.
Erected by City of Rocks Back Country Byway.
Location. 42° 9.906′ N, 113° 34.164′ W. Marker is near Elba, Idaho, in Cassia County. Marker is on Elba-Almo Highway (at milepost 7) near Forest Road 708, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Malta ID 83342, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. California Trail - Summit Creek (a few steps from this marker); California Trail - Leaving Cassia Creek (approx. 5.8 miles away); Horrible Indian Massacre (approx. 5.8 miles away); Camped...
California Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, May 14, 2018
3. California Trail Marker
(approx. 6 miles away); Replica Wagon (approx. 6 miles away); California Trail - Nearing City of Rocks (approx. 6.4 miles away); Distant Views (approx. 8.9 miles away); Fading Away (approx. 8.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elba.
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Credits. This page was last revised on September 27, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 27, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 29 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 27, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.
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