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West Wendover in Elko County, Nevada — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

The Hastings Cutoff

- Taking the Long Way

 
 
The Hastings Cutoff Marker image. Click for full size.
By Chris English, September 7, 2014
1. The Hastings Cutoff Marker
Inscription.  In 1846, Lansford W. Hastings led a group of about 60 emigrant wagons on a route that diverged from the California Trail near Fort Bridger, Wyoming. After encountering almost impassable difficulties getting through the Wasatch Mountains via Weber Canyon, Hastings left word for the Donner-Reed party - following his trail - not to attempt Weber Canyon. The Donner-Reed party found his written warning and set James Reed to find Hastings and get his advice. Following Hastings' advice, the Donner-Reed party chose to reach the valley of the Great Salt Lake by way of Emigration Canyon. Unfortunately, it took 18 days of cutting and hacking trees and brush to bring the Donner-Reed wagons to the valley.

From this point, they followed Hastings' trail across the Western Desert and the Salt Flats east of present day Wendover, crossing the route of I-80 about 50 miles east of here. Traveling for three days without water for themselves and their livestock, abandoning wagons and equipment, they finally arrived at fresh-water springs near Pilot Peak, 20 miles north of Wendover.

Still following Hastings' train, they crossed the route of I-80
The Hastings Cutoff Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 19, 2016
2. The Hastings Cutoff Marker
at Silver Zone Pass, about 20 miles west of here. They continued on and took Hastings' long detour around the Ruby Mountains, finally rejoining the California Trail at the site of the present-day National California Emigrant Trail Interpretive Center at Elko, Nevada.

After being delayed by following Hastings route, the Donner-Reed party was trapped by October snows at what is now called Donner Pass and spent a horrible winter in survival mode before being rescued in the early spring of 1847.

Anguish and dismay now filled all hearts. Husbands bowed their heads, appalled at the situation of their families. Some cursed Hastings for the false statements in his open letter and for his broken pledge at Fort Bridger. They cursed him also for his misrepresentation of the distance across this cruel desert. Mothers in tearless agony clasped their children to their bosoms with the old, old cry, 'Father, Thy will not mine, be done.’ It was plain that try as we might, we could not get back to Fort Bridger. We must proceed, regardless of the fearful outlook…
Eliza Donner, 1846
 
Location. 40° 44.444′ N, 114° 4.35′ W. Marker is in West Wendover, Nevada, in Elko County. Marker is on Wendover Boulevard (Business Route 80) one mile west of Alternate U.S. 93, on the right
The Hastings Cutoff Marker (<i>view looking north; West Wendover Police complex in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 19, 2016
3. The Hastings Cutoff Marker (view looking north; West Wendover Police complex in background)
when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: West Wendover NV 89883, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Victory Highway (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln Highway (within shouting distance of this marker); Western Pacific Railroad (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic Wendover Field (within shouting distance of this marker); Ancient Lake Bonneville (within shouting distance of this marker); Transcontinental Telephone Line (within shouting distance of this marker); Wendover Will Reclaims Skyline Once Again (within shouting distance of this marker); 509th Composite Group – First Atomic Bombardment (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in West Wendover.
 
Categories. ExplorationSettlements & Settlers
 
The California Trail Marker Series of West Wendover image. Click for full size.
By Chris English, September 7, 2014
4. The California Trail Marker Series of West Wendover
Hastings Cutoff Marker (<i>wide view; marker is located near Victory Highway Arch & Monument</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 19, 2016
5. Hastings Cutoff Marker (wide view; marker is located near Victory Highway Arch & Monument)
James Reed, wife Margaret and daughter Patty image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 5, 2019
6. James Reed, wife Margaret and daughter Patty
These two photographs are from Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, Sacramento, California. Its captions read:

James Reed was banished from the wagon train after he killed a man in a fight. When he reached Sutter's fort, he realized the rest of the travelers must be snowbound in the Sierra. He was determined to return eastward to rescue his wife Margaret, pictured with him here, and their children. He went with the first rescue party sent out by Sutter in November. They were driven back by a blizzard. Reed went with another expedition in February, and was able to get through, bringing out many survivors. Mrs. Reed and the couple's four children were among them.

Patty Reed as a teenager, c. 1855
 

More. Search the internet for The Hastings Cutoff.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 7, 2019. This page originally submitted on July 16, 2014, by Chris English of Phoenix, Arizona. This page has been viewed 395 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on July 16, 2014, by Chris English of Phoenix, Arizona.   2, 3. submitted on March 26, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   4. submitted on July 16, 2014, by Chris English of Phoenix, Arizona.   5. submitted on March 26, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   6. submitted on August 7, 2019, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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